Featuring: Cub Swanson and His UFC Victory Party, Over 75 of the Nation’s Top Tattoo Industry Artists and Vendors at Your Service, Tattoos, Ms. Palm Trees and Tattoos Beauty Contest and $1000 Bikini Contests, Live Entertainment and Drinks All Weekend!

by Lisa Morgan

The TG Tattoo studio family is blazing a new trail for the City of Palm Springs by bringing them their first ever tattoo convention. The Palm Springs Tattoo Convention will be launched this weekend with nothing less than a victory party for our Palm Springs native UFC champion, Kevin Luke “Cub” Swanson. Swanson will be celebrating his impressive sixth straight win Friday night, complete with a $1000 bikini contest at the Hard Rock Hotel, thanks to the tattoo studio, Tg Tattoo, he chose to give him his victory tattoo. While this may be the first of its kind in Palm Springs, we will very likely see many more in the future, considering that the booths for this event sold out in less than a month. Our local tattoo studios (most of them anyway) have come on board with Tg Tattoo to prove that they are not only generators of fine body art, but of significant city revenue, even if it is in the middle of summer.

Sean Wood, the marketing, promotions and PR brain for Tg Tattoo shared how he and business partner, artist, organizer and multi-tasker,Tony Francois, began formulating a plan. Their driving reasons for this large, upscale, unprecedented undertaking are bigger than you might think. “Two years ago when we found out the Hard Rock was coming, Tony and I started brain storming,” shared Wood. “It seems like the City of Palm Springs is allowing themselves to become more of a go to destination, out of straight necessity, by saying ‘yes’ to things they used to say ‘no’ to. We want 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 art on the skin with the industry’s best artists. It will be a more upscale event, proving to people that tats are not all about hoodlums and scoundrels. It’s about collecting fine art on your body today. People now shop by artist and will travel all around having studied a particular artist’s tattoos, and make appointments accordingly. There is so much artistic talent right here in this valley, we wanted to shine a light on it. At the same time I wanted to open the eyes of the City of Palm Springs as to what this is really about.”

“When we first opened Tg Tattoo, we had lobbied to be downtown, and downtown said, ‘No’, several times,” recounted Wood. “They gave us about two streets we could open up on. But we wanted to be in the spotlight, right in down town. This convention is a way for us to be able to showcase what has evolved in the tattoo industry… what it’s really about, not just about sideshows and freaks (although they have their place there obviously). More people are starting to realize that they don’t want to get their body art from ‘Joe Shmoe’ down the block. They want to save up the $1,500 to $2,000 to get a piece of fine art put on their body that they’ll have for the rest of their lives. People have no problem putting out two Gs for a piece of artwork for their living room. I want to change the stigma. I want to get rid of the prejudice. I want to order a burger without getting mad-dogged. I like it when I get people staring at me in restaurants and places. There’s nothing more gratifying than when someone comes up to me with the gumption to ask about, and let me talk about my tattoos. Soon, it’s going to be hard to find someone without a tattoo. It’s going to be harder to not put people in positions of leadership within the work place just because they have tattoos.” (According to Statistic Brain, 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo, and a recent Fox News Poll says 1 in 5 adults registered to vote have tattoos)

Not necessarily part of any strategy, simply more of an honest desire to bring education to the format, signing on Sullen artist, Rich Pineda, triggered an onslaught of the nation’s top body art experts and personalities to join the effort. “I owe Rich the world,” said Wood with emphasis. “We gave him a seminar to do on Sunday for people already on top of their game who want to expand their abilities. Once we got him on board, he got the owners of Sullen, Ryan Smith and Jeremy Hanna, to approach me about our convention. They really got behind it and believed in what we were trying to do out here. The Sullen Family really helped make something amazing happen. They’re bringing 20 top notch artists – all the guys you see on TV and are making a name for themselves. Once that happened, everyone else started jumping on board. We ended up having to turn a ton of people away. We sold out within a month, in large part to the Sullen Family of artists getting behind it.”

“Here’s one of the coolest parts of this story,” Wood continued. “As a shop owner, you hear things about other shops, rumors about town, gossip, what not. It tends to create animosity or rivalries among the shops. When you start working with the top of artists in the tattoo world, you don’t find any of that. They really support each other. Well, in spite of the fact that we’re all fighting for the same dollar, I found it to be the same here in the Coachella Valley.”

Wood and Francois, as they have always done with their shop, have worked very closely with the health department to ensure clean and safe procedures during the event. “That was a challenge,” Wood expressed. “We worked EVERYTHING out with the health department. We wanted a safe healthy event for everyone. Since there’s no precedence for tattoo conventions in Palm Springs and no previous platform to build on, we had to set it up from scratch. We will be reviewing everything after the convention as well to see how we can continue to improve the plan we developed together.”

The entire event will be in the very cool atmosphere and air-conditioning of the Hard Rock Hotel, Palm Springs. Sailor Jerry Rum will be bringing a 1920s rat rod with a large old school gas pump that will dispense their liquor. Coachella Valley Brewing has a vehicle armed with tapped kegs to pour from. A ’69 Dodge Challenger will be given away (must purchase a very cool souvenir t-shirt to win). Local car and bike clubs are bringing their vehicles for display, the majority of which will all be inside the Hard Rock.

The basic itinerary for the event will be as follows:

Friday: 10 PM Kickoff Party ~ $1000 Bikini Contest and Cub’s Victory Party

Saturday: 10 AM – 10 PM Convention including over 75 artists, live music and DJs, tattoo contests (awards start at 6 PM promptly)

Sunday: 10 AM – 6 PM Convention awards ceremony at 4 PM, followed by the Sullen Angels Beauty Contest with the naming of the first annual “Ms. Palm Trees and Tattoo”.

Special rates for weekend packages and pre-sale tickets are available while supplies last, right up until the day of the event. Those who purchase weekend passes get discounted room rates and a Sullen gift bag. Tickets also will be available at the door the day of the event. You can purchase pre-sale tickets at any local tattoo studio or at Palmtreesandtattoos.com.

If you’re into the culture of body art or have deep, hidden fascination, this is the event to discover a world that represents gutsy artistry and serious commitment like no other format. For more information on the people, places and things mentioned in this article, check out the following links:


About Tg Tattoo:
The studio owned by Tony Francois and Sean Wood is located at 68186 Ramon Road, Cathedral City. You can call them at (760) 324-9828 or check out their website at tgtattoo.com. This studio is powered by a desire to be the best in the business on every level.

Tg Tattoo’s artists and their expertise:
Tony Francois: Color Realism
Big Belli: Fine Line Westcoast Black and Grey
John Fonoti: Color Realism/Polynesian
Zane Jolley: Neo Traditional
Miguel Arreola: Horror/Sci-Fi