Apr 27, 2024 | By: Matthew Freeman

In Focus: 5th ‘Tattoo You’ Convention Makes Its Way to Walker

Northern Lights Casino in Walker is hosting the fifth Tattoo You Midwest convention, a special weekend event that invites artists from all over the Midwest to meet new clients and show off their abilities.

“Well, I’ve been doing this for about 35 years, and it started out as a reason for me to party,” said David Nelson, Tattoo You Midwest Convention Promoter. “But we got into it. I really made a commitment for this to be well-intended, very hygienic, and very reputable.”

Artists are invited to be a part of the convention to hopefully meet new clients, but to also meet fellow artists.

“This is a convention where artists come together, they show off their artwork, and they do new tattoos for people,” explained Nelson. “They tattoo next to their friends. They meet their friends here. And over the years, we’ve become a Tattoo You family.”

“A big part of it is just networking and getting to meet all the different artists around the area,” says Shannon Thompson, an artist from The Art of Ink Studio in New London, Minnesota. “A lot of these artists I worked with at the previous conventions and some of them are like new ones that are just starting to come.”

“As an artist, you know, it’s crucial to put yourself out there, and this is one of those ways that you can do that,” added Justin Jimenez, an artist with Electric Blue Tattoo Co. out of Forest Lake. “There’s a lot of foot traffic. Just a lot of one-on-one face-to-face with potential clientele. So it works out really well.”

And if you have an itch to get a tattoo and like one of the designs on display, you can step up and get inked by a Minnesota artist.

“You can come into our show and you can pick your own artist,” said Nelson. “You can see all their artwork that’s laid out in front of them and find one that you really vibe with. And I think by the time this is over, we’ll probably do about 400 new tattoos.”

The artists are also put into a small competition over the weekend with awards to see who has the best tattoos.

“We have two huge contests,” Nelson explained. “We have a panel of judges that these contestants will go in front of. And we have, like, 27 different categories where we break it up. Like you might have a small color tattoo or you might have a big mythological piece, but we have different classifications and categories that you go in front of a judge when your category is called, and we compete for prizes and nice trophies.”

“I have a couple of pieces that I have entered, and then I have a couple of pieces I got done on me that I’m entering as well. So that’s fun, a little competition,” added Thompson with a laugh.

And even though Walker is a smaller town compared to other places the convention stops at, the city is a special place for the convention to be held.

“We always like coming up to this casino to do our convention year ’cause it’s very kind of [a] personable town,” says Skyler Nelson, Host of the Tattoo You Midwest Convention. “But we do, you know, Hinckley, St. Cloud, we did one in Morton and they’re big shows, big booths. But you’re just getting so many people, you don’t get a lot of like family time, I call it, with everyone who comes to the show. So Walker’s a little different for an atmosphere but we like it that way.”

Corey Medina and Brothers, a local blues band from Bemidji, will be at the convention on Saturday to provide entertainment for those who attend. Weekend passes start at $20, and doors open at 9 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

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