By Lisa Morgan
Thousands poured into the doors of the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs last year for the inaugural Palm Trees and Tattoos Convention. The event began with UFC champion, Cub Swanson’s victory party, where he celebrated his 6th straight win. The three day event went on to feature many of the nation’s top tattoo industry artists and vendors, live entertainment, a $1000 bikini contest, and the crowning of the first Ms. Palm Trees and Tattoos. This year, co-founder Sean Wood has put pressure on himself to make this year’s convention even more memorable than last. With a full hotel buy-out, a towering mural being painted over three days on the west facing wall of the Hard Rock, 32 Sullen Artists, including a record number of international artists, there is little doubt that these three days will satisfy every tattoo enthusiasts’ wildest dreams and then some.
Wood, the co-owner, marketing, promotions and PR brain behind Tg Tat in Cathedral City, shared how he and business partner, artist, organizer and multi-tasker, Tony Francois, began formulating a plan for this large, upscale, unprecedented undertaking. “A few years ago, when we found out the Hard Rock was coming, Tony and I started brain storming,” he shared. “We wanted to be part of bringing back that 60’s Hollywood glam the city used to be famous for. We’re not bringing them a bunch of freaks and geeks. We are showcasing top notch, fine body art with the industry’s best artists – a more upscale event, proving to people that tattoos are not just about hoodlums and scoundrels.”
“Our culture needs to start viewing individuals with tattoos as regular, hard-working, human beings,” shared Wood. “We tried real hard to push that last year, and we will hopefully continue to do so successfully this year. Inevitably, you can’t stand in line at Starbucks without seeing a tattoo on somebody’s hand, neck or wherever. The days of the drunken random tattoo are dwindling. Many, these days, are intelligent, researched people making artistic, lifetime commitments to their collection of fine, body art. People who are unfamiliar with the culture will look at someone with tattoos and try not to stare. But really, it’s ok to look deeper. These pieces of art are part of our story that we are proud to have seen permanently on our bodies.
The tattoo industry is an ever evolving art form, and you’ll really be able to see that at this year’s convention with the artists we have coming, both national and international.”
In the United States alone, tattoos have turned into a 1.65 billion dollar a year industry. Approximately 40% of adults, age 25-40, have at least one tattoo. The surge in the popularity of tattoos has created a growing forum for artists whose canvases are the bodies of those who very specifically collect art from artists who emerge in this industry that has become very visible, thanks in large part to the internet, social media and reality television. Wood, a collector himself, explains, “More and more of these incredible artists come up, and I’m finding myself running out of room. I love all my tattoos. It’s the idea of making a lifetime decision, a statement of a person’s true character and the honest, committed expression of themselves. If I take my shirt off, you can read the journal of my life and know what’s important to me. On my stomach I have my wife. I have music artists Paloma Ford and Eazy-E, a big cobra that says, ‘No snakes in my garden,’ and I have, ‘True love never dies,’ above my chest with a burning heart for my daughter, Ava. They each have a story behind them that I’m happy to tell you about. You can also see the times in my life where I found artists that were obviously at the top of their game. As a collector, when I take my shirt off you’ll know exactly who I am and what I’m about.”
“Just as these street artists who have emerged into the art scene, who were once scoffed at, and are now turning out valuable, high priced art, the same thing is happening to tattoo artists. These artists are creating new styles and landscapes. Even the placement of tattoos is evolving. The entire body is being used as a canvas.”
Wood has always been an advocate of researching your artist, and the studio where you plan on getting your tattoo art: “If you’re down to pay $2,000 for a shitty little Honda to get you around town, why wouldn’t you invest at least that much on a badass piece of art that you’ll wear with you for your entire life, if that’s what you’re into. Do your research,” he says. “Do your homework. Make an investment. With today’s technology and social media, there is zero excuse for not being informed or for not finding exactly what you want. Better yet, if you are considering a piece of body art, come to the convention where all that information is in one place for you.”
SEVENTH LETTER MURAL
The seventh letter in the alphabet is the letter G, and for this group of street artists, G stands for “Gods of Graffiti”. They represent what many consider to be one of the most racially diverse and prolific street artist crews ever assembled. Three of their more than 100 modern muralists operating under the Seventh Letter banner, will be painting a huge mural on the west facing wall of the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs starting Friday night. They will be working day and night, through Sunday, to complete a mural approximately 15 feet high and 100 feet wide. Every morning guests will wake up to a continually evolving, incredible piece of street art. Once it’s finished, it will be up to the Hard Rock Hotel whether it stays up, or gets painted over.
SULLEN ARTISTS: What began as a college art project, a love of tattoos and two best friends brainstorming, somehow emerged into Sullen Clothing, a hugely popular clothing line, with designs based on tattoo artistry. The brand that originally focused on the production of t-shirts grew into much more with added products and collaborations with everyone from music artists to athletes. Owners Jeremy Hanna along with business partner and best friend, Ryan Smith, a professional tattoo artist for many years, decided to start a clothing company as Smith was finishing up with his degree at The Art Center of Pasadena and tattooing on the side. Since Smith’s style of art work was on the darker side, and his tattoo background was designing a lot of tattoos of skulls, they landed on the name “Sullen.” They now work with over 70 amazing artists which represent the Sullen Art Collective.
32 Sullen artists will be part of this year’s convention. Artists are coming all the way from the UK, Dublin, Switzerland, Germany and Canada as well as from throughout the United States. “We are bringing in the heaviest of the heavies,” says Wood. “It’s our sophomore year – there’s a lot of pressure to really bring it. We had several meetings with the Hard Rock, the Health Department and with Sullen. We went over everything that we did last year – what we did right and what we could improve upon. We literally checked off every item on that list of suggestions that we were given to make the event better. This year, attendees can look forward to a more polished show, with a lot more to see as you cruise through the Hard Rock.”
The Sullen artists at the convention include: Rich Pineda, Tattoo Huero, Franco Veskovi, Big Belli, Mr. Flaks, Steve Soto, Justin Burnout, Anam Q, Tony Francois, Remis, Josh Hagan, Justin Hartman, James Strickland, Wane Han, Damon Conklin, Liz Cook, Travis Ross, Mario Roseanu, Josh Duffy, Chase Tafoya, Migugel Arreola, Lio Framasino, Jim Sylvia, Opie Ortiz, Lucky Bastard, Riccy Boy, Sulu’ape, Mr. Flako, Temo Tatts, Tommy Cyclone, Christian Mareh, and Rember Orellana.
THE SULLEN ANGELS
The world famous Sullen Angels will be hosting parties at the pool every day of the event. These beautiful, tattooed ladies have been a big part of Sullen’s skyrocketing brand awareness. The next Sullen Angels model search will take place at the convention, where the new 2015 Ms. Palm Trees and Tattoos contest will be hosted by none other than Bernadette Macias of Sullen TV.
Live Lettering Seminar: Sullen artist, Huero, will be offering a seminar that will be open to anyone in attendance. He will be teaching a new lettering technique that will benefit tattoo artists, as well as artists in other industries. Industry secrets will be taught from one of the best in the business.
DIY Print Shop: Ryonet will be offering a 2 to 3 hour class on how to turn your art into cash. This will be a crash course showing you step by step how to turn your artwork into cash using the screen printing process. You’ll learn how to take an image from your phone and go through the process from start to finish, printing a shirt without a middleman. This will be a free course, open to everyone, but early registration is recommended as space will be limited.
Permanent Makeup: The Scar Treatment Recovery Center will be taking over the entire spa at the Hard Rock Hotel. They will be offering a seminar on permanent makeup and laser tattoo removal as well as offering those services on site.
FLASH ART EXHIBITION:
This art show featuring flash pieces from many artists such as Big Sleeps, Norm and Mike Giant, will be held upstairs at the Hard Rock, and will be produced/curated by Eddie Donaldson and Ryan Campbell. Original flash prints form local artists as well as artists from all over will be for sale at affordable prices throughout the weekend.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Friday, July 10th
All Day Live Mural Painting
2pm-10pm – Tattoo Convention
2pm-8pm – Sullen Angels Pool Party
2pm-10pm – Flash Art Show
(Flash Gallery Upstairs)
8pm-10pm – Awards (Main Ballroom)
10pm-2am – DJ Party! (21+ Only)
Saturday, July 11th
All Day Live Mural Painting
11am-10pm – Tattoo Convention
11am-10pm – Flash Art Show
(Flash Gallery upstairs)
12pm-2pm – Laser Tattoo Removal Seminar (Palladium South)
1pm-8pm – Sullen Angels Pool Party
2 pm-5pm – Ryonet Silk Screen Seminar (Palladium North)
8pm-10pm – Awards (Main Ball Room)
10pm-2am – DJ Party! (21+ Only) Live Performance by DJ Steevie Crooks at 12am
Sunday, July 12th
All Day Live Mural Painting
11am-6pm – Tattoo Convention
11am-6pm – Therapy Sessions with Low Life Music/Inhale/Lifeline (Main Ballroom)
12pm-5pm – Sullen Angels Pool Party
12pm-2pm – Laser tattoo removal seminar
1pm-3pm – Lettering seminar with Huero (Palladium North)
5pm – Announcement of Ms. Palm Trees And Tattoos Model Search Winner
6pm – Awards (Main Ball Room)
DJs scheduled to perform:
Albert Ramirez, Dxsko, InglishTheBeat, DJAddemUP, Captain Osiv, Luthergates, ImDead, Pedro Le Bass, Alex Harrington, Jae Rawkwell and DJ Smoke One.
If you’re into the culture of body art or have a deep, hidden fascination for it, this is the event to discover a world that represents gutsy artistry and serious commitment like no other format, with the best in the industry. For more information on the people, places and things mentioned in this article, check out the following links:
ABOUT Tg Tattoo: Co-owner, Sean Wood, raised in the streets of San Francisco, eventually found himself here in Palm Springs by way of Las Vegas. Wood sold his smoke shop in Palm Springs, when best friend and current business partner, Tony Francois, came to him about opening a tattoo shop. “We took whatever money we had from selling the business, and put all our money down on city permits and licensing. So we literally had no money to put into the business itself. So I would bartend, and Tony would do tattoos. We’d build one station, then repeat, until it was done. We’ve been doing it ever since.”
Tg Tat is now a premier Tattoo Studio specializing in everything from full color realism tattoos to straight traditional tattoos and all things in between. They are located at 68186 Ramon Rd, Cathedral City, CA (760) 324-9828