In 2015, I attended my first anime convention. I was both excited and nervous in the days leading up to the convention; I had no idea what to expect, but I was ready to dress up as one of my all-time favorite characters and surround myself with fellow anime fans. I attended my first tattoo convention a few years later, motivated again by my love for anime. On June 14th to June 16th, I and many others will be attending our first ever anime tattoo convention in Richmond, Virginia. Anime Ink Con will host over 100 anime-focused tattoo artists side-by-side with cosplay, fan artists and crafters, and vendors. The event is organized by Kim Wall, owner of Richmond’s Black Rabbit Tattoo, an all-female tattoo shop boasting multiple anime tattooers, namely Wall and Isashah Pereira. Since opening in November 2015, Black Rabbit Tattoo has held multiple wildly successful tattoo flash events, including an annual Sailor Moon flash day as well as a Pokemon event where all 807 Pokemon were fair game for flash tattoos. With the success of these flash day events, organizing a full anime tattoo convention just makes sense.
I attended my first anime convention around the same time that I got my first anime tattoo, but back then there were very few artists whose repertoire boasted primarily anime art. Since I had never heard of any anime artists at the time, I went with an artist I trusted and we created a design that blended his style with that of the subject, Spirited Away. Soon after, I stumbled across Kim Wall’s work on Instagram, and eventually made my first trip to a tattoo convention for the chance to have her tattoo me. Loving anime is a lot like loving tattoos. People who count themselves as enthusiasts of either are willing to travel far to spend a long weekend surrounded by fellow artists and fans.
Still, tattoos and anime are both polarizing, and until recently, they were two subcultures that existed simultaneously but separately. Though these subcultures did not totally collide until recently, both tattoos and anime have always attracted people that steer clear of mundanity. Conventions have always been a setting for people who gravitate to these alternative lifestyles to not only spend a few days immersing themselves in the culture, but also where they can discover new aspects of the community that they had not encountered before. At anime conventions, attendees can sometimes get a first look at new shows, or they can simply dedicate their time to cosplay and meetups with like-minded fans. Tattoo conventions are not all too different from anime conventions. Although they don’t necessarily promote cosplay, it’s not uncommon to see people wearing elaborate alternative fashion as well as seeing more people with extreme body modifications.
This June, Anime Ink Con will bring these two worlds together, gathering anime-focused tattoo artists from all over the world while also holding cosplay contests and hosting fan artists. Like any tattoo convention, attendees will have the chance to get tattoos from artists that they’d likely otherwise have to travel to for the opportunity. The convention will also act as a celebration of all things anime, as both anime and tattoo focused vendors will have space to meet with fans alongside tattoo artists themselves. The cosplay contest will be judged by cosplayers who blend edgy tattoo culture with anime fandom. Neptune, Erica Fett, and Lua Stardust will host and judge the contest. The convention is certainly shaping up to be a perfect combination of anime fandom and tattoo enthusiasts.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.