More than skin deep: photos from the Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention | Fashion | Chicago Reader

More than skin deep: photos from the Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention 

More than 5,000 tattoo enthusiasts and artists from the U.S., Asia, Europe, and South America gathered in Rosemont.

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Randy Pizza Candy, 40, gets himself tattooed every time he travels, he says. He legally changed his middle and last names to "Pizza Candy" because he wanted his son, Vlad Dracula, to carry those names too. - PAT NABONG
  • Randy Pizza Candy, 40, gets himself tattooed every time he travels, he says. He legally changed his middle and last names to "Pizza Candy" because he wanted his son, Vlad Dracula, to carry those names too.
  • Pat Nabong

Tattoos, because of what they stand for, are more than just skin deep. People are often cautious about what they choose to put on their bodies forever. But that doesn’t stop them from getting inked with creative, fascinating, and sometimes outrageous designs.

Last weekend, more than 5,000 tattoo enthusiasts and artists from the U.S., Asia, Europe, and South America gathered in Rosemont for the tenth Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention, which organizers say is the largest event of its kind in the country. v

Thousands of people attended the three-day tattoo convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. - PAT NABONG
  • Thousands of people attended the three-day tattoo convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
  • Pat Nabong
"This is a flash design that I did based off of . . . a horror manga," says tattoo artist Horimomiji. - PAT NABONG
  • "This is a flash design that I did based off of . . . a horror manga," says tattoo artist Horimomiji.
  • Pat Nabong
Horimomiji, who's from Vancouver, Canada, inks a customer. - PAT NABONG
  • Horimomiji, who's from Vancouver, Canada, inks a customer.
  • Pat Nabong
El Mexicano, as he prefers to be called, has 330 hours worth of tattoos from a Chicago artist named Tucan who works on the southwest side in West Elsdon. "The most meaningful ones are these two. It's my father and my mother," he says. "The Virgin Mary's also very meaningful. For me, I'm Latino, and you know my religion and everything. I feel like it protects me." - PAT NABONG
  • El Mexicano, as he prefers to be called, has 330 hours worth of tattoos from a Chicago artist named Tucan who works on the southwest side in West Elsdon. "The most meaningful ones are these two. It's my father and my mother," he says. "The Virgin Mary's also very meaningful. For me, I'm Latino, and you know my religion and everything. I feel like it protects me."
  • Pat Nabong
El Mexicano displays a tattoo from the movie Apocalypto in his armpit. - PAT NABONG
  • El Mexicano displays a tattoo from the movie Apocalypto in his armpit.
  • Pat Nabong
Aerial artist Anna Connors, based in Milwaukee, performs during the convention. To symbolize her "flight from home," Connors first had small wings tattooed on her back when she moved to Ireland. "As I grow as a person, [the wings] have grown," she says. "They're not done yet." - PAT NABONG
  • Aerial artist Anna Connors, based in Milwaukee, performs during the convention. To symbolize her "flight from home," Connors first had small wings tattooed on her back when she moved to Ireland. "As I grow as a person, [the wings] have grown," she says. "They're not done yet."
  • Pat Nabong
Roy Gonzalez, 38, and his colleagues from Miami and Los Angeles were among the hundreds of artists who attended the convention. - PAT NABONG
  • Roy Gonzalez, 38, and his colleagues from Miami and Los Angeles were among the hundreds of artists who attended the convention.
  • Pat Nabong
Cupcake Castillo, 32, shows off the tattoo at the top of her arm: a "Day of the Dead design morphed with a zombie," she says, "because of my husband being Hispanic, and he's a tattoo artist, mixed with my love for, obviously, zombies." - PAT NABONG
  • Cupcake Castillo, 32, shows off the tattoo at the top of her arm: a "Day of the Dead design morphed with a zombie," she says, "because of my husband being Hispanic, and he's a tattoo artist, mixed with my love for, obviously, zombies."
  • Pat Nabong
Brooke Duhem, 26, from Elmwood Park, gets a tattoo from Curtis Cameron, an artist based in New Jersey. "I basically just told him what my ideas were and I showed him a few different pictures," Duhem says. "I put the blindfold on, and from there I haven't seen it. Do you like it?" - PAT NABONG
  • Brooke Duhem, 26, from Elmwood Park, gets a tattoo from Curtis Cameron, an artist based in New Jersey. "I basically just told him what my ideas were and I showed him a few different pictures," Duhem says. "I put the blindfold on, and from there I haven't seen it. Do you like it?"
  • Pat Nabong
Eric Smolinski, 41, from Lowell, Indiana, tattoos horses on Patrick Lopez's back. It "doesn't have to stand for anything," Smolinski says. It "doesn't have to mean anything. It's just bold and out there and looks dope." - PAT NABONG
  • Eric Smolinski, 41, from Lowell, Indiana, tattoos horses on Patrick Lopez's back. It "doesn't have to stand for anything," Smolinski says. It "doesn't have to mean anything. It's just bold and out there and looks dope."
  • Pat Nabong
Mike DeBoer, 36, served as a "guinea pig" for his best friend, who became a tattoo artist. "I never thought I would come this far," DeBoer says. He plans on getting his entire body tattooed—"Except for my face. I'm too pretty." - PAT NABONG
  • Mike DeBoer, 36, served as a "guinea pig" for his best friend, who became a tattoo artist. "I never thought I would come this far," DeBoer says. He plans on getting his entire body tattooed—"Except for my face. I'm too pretty."
  • Pat Nabong
Jozy Warren, 23, from Naperville, says she loves cats. - "My YouTube name is YRCQJ, which stands for Young Rich Cat Queen Jozy, so I actually came here today to look for an artist to do a cat queen on me," she says. "I'm obsessed with cats." - PAT NABONG
  • Jozy Warren, 23, from Naperville, says she loves cats. "My YouTube name is YRCQJ, which stands for Young Rich Cat Queen Jozy, so I actually came here today to look for an artist to do a cat queen on me," she says. "I'm obsessed with cats."
  • Pat Nabong
Andy Siordia, 47, and Mindy Albert, 46, proudly display their complementary tattoos, which Siordia says they got on their arms because Albert holds onto his arm when they sleep. "It's the way that we feel [about each other]," he says. - PAT NABONG
  • Andy Siordia, 47, and Mindy Albert, 46, proudly display their complementary tattoos, which Siordia says they got on their arms because Albert holds onto his arm when they sleep. "It's the way that we feel [about each other]," he says.
  • Pat Nabong
"I'm the piece to [my mom's] puzzle," says Aisha Jones, 35, who convinced her 56-year-old mother, Annette, to get her first tattoo. "We best friends," says Annette. "We do everything together." - PAT NABONG
  • "I'm the piece to [my mom's] puzzle," says Aisha Jones, 35, who convinced her 56-year-old mother, Annette, to get her first tattoo. "We best friends," says Annette. "We do everything together."
  • Pat Nabong
Mother and daughter Aisha and Annette Jones, from Englewood, get complementary tattoos. "She did [convince me]," says Annette, who hasn't been tattooed before. "I won't do it again, though. I did this one for her." - PAT NABONG
  • Mother and daughter Aisha and Annette Jones, from Englewood, get complementary tattoos. "She did [convince me]," says Annette, who hasn't been tattooed before. "I won't do it again, though. I did this one for her."
  • Pat Nabong
The Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention is in its tenth year. - PAT NABONG
  • The Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention is in its tenth year.
  • Pat Nabong

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