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Convention Report Anime Ink Review: Where Alternative and Geek Culture Collide

Convention Report Anime Ink Review: Where Alternative and Geek Culture Collide

Tattoos. Anime. Anime Tattoos. Welcome to Anime Ink, the first Nerd-exclusive Tattoo Convention focusing on Japanese Animation style body art. How did we review Anime Ink in its banner year?

Anime Ink is the brain child of world renown East Coast Anime Tattoo specialist Bunny Machine and Ryan Braces of Black Rabbit Tattoo, an all-female artist tattoo studio located in Richmond, Virginia. As a tattoo convention, it was a rousing success with over 100 artists in attendance. Many were completely booked weeks before the show took place while others offered at-show deals and specials all focused around anime and nerdom.

“I’m used to having to warn [people] looking through my book that it’s all nerd stuff,” one artist explained, “but here it’s just [expected.]”
Love for the medium was obvious, from banners to prints to business cards.

Artists were eager to engage in conversation about their fandoms and their work equally. Though this was a first year event, the atmosphere remained lively. There was always conversation to be had, tattooing to observe, and something beautiful to look at.

Even among the anime-inspired art there was a wide variety. Some used more moe or cutesy styles reminiscent of Pusheen or Miyazaki. Some were explosively colorful, tattooing to imitate shine and glitter in the style of magical girl anime like Puella Madoka Magicka or Sailor Moon. Others went for more adult themes, incorporating ero guro, hentai and tentacle monsters. Some used anime as a natural extension of their artistic style, whether realistic or animation based design.

Artists like Kyle Patrick at Seventh Sin Tattoo Company focus on certain artistic styles like blackwork tattoo.

Anime conventions overall tend to attract a fairly young crowd. The very nature of tattooing and the related age restrictions appeal to a more adult crowd. Because of this dichotomy, Anime Ink was able to push boundaries into alternative interests in a way many anime conventions are unable to. As a result, the art and merchandise were very diverse while the atmosphere felt quite mellow in comparison to, say, Otakon or Katsucon.

Adult themed freebie stickers in a goodie bag from Shannon Parcell at Authentic Art Studio.

Aside from the extensive body art community, there were also other staples of convention life. A mini-arcade was available with game cabinets free to play. These were courtesy of VGTcon, an upcoming event that will feature artists inspired by video games.

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Tattooing is a form of artistic self-expression using the body as a canvas. It then makes sense that other forms of physical presentation would play a role at Anime Ink. In this way, cosplay is a natural extension of the same principle. Anime Ink was unique in having aptly chosen perfectly qualified guest judges for the cosplay contest. Not only are Erika Fett, Lua Stardust, and Neptune experienced cosplayers themselves, but as Alternative and American Models, they are  well-acquainted with embodying a character on stage and capturing the nuance of performance.

Left to right: Erika Fett, Lua Stardust, and Neptune

For a Quirky Nerd, this was an excellent event that provided a little something for everyone, from convention events, after parties, photo ops and a real community of like-minded adults. We recommend checking out Anime Ink and giving them a follow– you don’t want to miss out for 2020!

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