Hundreds flock to Jiminy -- for tattoos

By Meghan Foley, North Adams Transcript Article Launched: 10/27/2008 10:59:19 AM EDT Monday, October 27 HANCOCK -- Hundreds of tattoo artists, industry followers and curious locals descended upon Jiminy Peak this weekend for a conference that not only focused on the art of tattooing, but also on educating artists on how to do it better. "The main focus of this was for tattoo artists to come in to learn, and they did," Gabe Ripley, organizer of the conference, said Sunday afternoon. Besides being treated to the works of the finest tattoo artists the world has to offer, including Yang Zhuo of Beijing, Alex De Pasa of Italy, Stephane Chaudesaigues of France and Max MacAndrews of Scotland, those attending the conference had opportunities to participate in panel discussions about various aspects of the industry and to take seminars on their craft. "Lots of artists came out here just for the seminars," Johnny Love of Glen Burnie, Md., said. "It really helps everybody better service their clients and customers." Love said the event was "a good thing for the industry." Ripley, who owns Off The Map Tattoo in Easthampton, said he hopes the artists who learned tips and tricks from other artists this weekend will be inspired to do better tattoos and will also learn to give back to the tattoo community. "It's real important when you're marking somebody's skin for the rest of their life -- there is no room for ego or greed," he said. While people attending the conference said they were impressed with the assortment and quality of artists, they also liked its location at the ski resort. "It's a great place for artists to learn from each other, and in such a unique venue as well," said Larry Brogan of Chicago, as he was worked on a "sleeve" -- a full-length arm tattoo -- for Nick Lemay of South Deerfield. Lemay said he came to the conference because he knew Ripley from getting tattoos at his parlor, and he sees Brogan occasionally as well. "It's great. I don't like Boston very much, so it is better than going there," he said. Gail Michaud and Skylen Dailey came from Connecticut for the conference. "It's beautiful here," Michaud said. Dailey, who has been to two tattoo expositions, said the Paradise Tattoo Gathering was not the same old "humdrum" tattoo artistry. She said the art being shown seemed to "pop" the imagination and was "mind blowing." "I think it's definitely a new dawn and day for tattoo artists," she said. Thad Minnick of Warren, Ohio, said having the forums and discussions was an aspect of the tattoo convention that was different from others and was the reason he came to the Paradise Tattoo Gathering. "Tattooing has finally reached a point where tattoo artists are talking to each other," he said. His girlfriend, Amanda White, added, "Communication is making the industry better as a whole." Ripley said three aspects of the Paradise Tattoo Gathering made it different from other conventions: the educational aspect, where the conference was held (tattoo conferences are typically held in cities) and the quality of artists that were hand-picked for their talent and philosophy. "It's great because everybody has been really friendly and willing to talk with other artists about their techniques," said Stacy Blanchard, an apprentice with Spirit Gallery in Franklin, Conn., who was at her first conference. Ripley estimated about 800 people attended the conference, and while that is a relatively small number for a tattoo conference, he said he considered the Paradise Tattoo Gathering a success. "Basically, every artist has given [nearly] 100 percent [positive] feedback," he said. Due to the success of the conference, he said he plans to have a second Paradise Tattoo Gathering at Jiminy around the end of October next year. "It's humbling to see so many people get so much out of this," he said. Taken from http://www.thetranscript.com/ci_10827685