By Kiri Westby
When I first heard there was a tattoo convention in Kathmandu, Nepal I was astounded!
I lived in Nepal as a college student, worked there as a human rights activist during the recent civil war and have spent a lot of time studying Nepali language and culture. I also married a tattoo artist seven years ago and have been on a crash course of American tattoo culture ever since. Nowhere in my mind did the tattoo scene that I had come to know and the traditional culture of Nepal mix. But there it was, website and all, and I was instantly fascinated.
My friend Eric Inksmith, a veteran of American tattooing, challenged me to take him to Kathmandu, having never really left the U.S. before. Like a butterfly suddenly wondering about the storms it’s own wings have produced, Eric was curious to follow the trail that he himself had blazed. I was honored to be enlisted for the job and to have the chance to experience alongside him what tattooing on the other side of the world has become.
At almost 70 years old, Eric recalled stories from the National Convention in Philadelphia more than 30 years ago. As I listened to tales of rival biker gangs fighting on convention room floors and people being thrown from hotel room windows, I tried to imagine how the kind, soft-spoken, Nepali people have embraced and come to celebrate tattooing. And not in a subtle, underground way either, the convention was being held at the famous Yak & Yeti hotel, one of the most iconic establishments in the Kathmandu valley.
As these things go, friends were recruited, word of the adventure spread and we soon had a posse heading East from the U.S., including: Mike Wilson, Mac Bibby, Robert Ryan, Jae Connor, Phill Bartell and Chad Koeplinger. Eric handled the longest flight of his life and no one killed each other on the way over…in fact, from the beginning, everything felt pretty magical.
Kathmandu has changed significantly since 2007. Corruption and an inefficient, newly-Democratic government have left city services under-funded and unattended. Half-finished construction projects leave gaping holes and exposed power lines, not to mention the electrical brown-outs and water shortages, which have left things feeling chaotic on the streets. But the upside to Nepal’s new political landscape is that there is also more public art and individual self-expression, and many people I spoke to were hopeful and optimistic for Nepal’s future, a far cry from my time here during the war in 2003. Part of this new self-expression has manifested in a relatively fresh and exciting tattoo scene.
Video by Luke Holley (more…)
By Takahiro “Horitaka” Kitamura
It’s already August, and the tattoo convention I throw with Roman Enriquez (Strong Tattoo/45s Forever) is coming up soon! This year the convention in scheduled for October 21-23 and we are returning to the SFO Hyatt Regency. Even with last year’s power outage on Sunday, the hotel is perfect for us and we look forward to a great weekend. Here are some highlights of this year’s show…
Bio from Tyson McAdoo’s Site:
Born from the secret love affair between a famed Scottish ballerina and the Wolfman, Tyson McAdoo spent his younger years leaping and howling in the dark woods of Carlisle. At age 18 his talents of corn dog sculpture garnered the attention of the Joe Kubert School of Cartooning and Graphic Arts… [Video and Pictures on expanded page] (more…)
Musink was three days of skating, rock ‘n roll and hanging with some old peeps, while meeting some new ones… Oh, I guess some people got tattooed as well? Above is a video compilation we put together from some of the activities at Musink. However, it’s hard to cram a whole show into a three minute video clip, so we have added some pics and another short video below… Enjoy!