Barcelona Tattoo Expo is one of the oldest tattoo conventions in Europe as well as one of the most respected tattoo festivals worldwide. This year Barcelona Tattoo Expo is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. For those reasons we wanted to discover what lies behind the festival’s success and longevity. Therefore, we had a discussion with the three pillars of Barcelona Tattoo Expo; Mik Garetta, Mao, and Laura Cubero, among sharing some “historical” photos taken at the convention from 1996 to 2016, including the likes of tattoo legends Lyle Tuttle and Paulo Suluape, as well as (a young) Paul Booth and many more!
Barcelona Tattoo Convention opened its doors very modestly for the first time in 1996, the first venue chosen by the organisation was much smaller than the current one; it started in a venue of only 1500m2. “That’s why we are very proud of currently organising the convention in an 18000m2 fairground, totally different to our beginnings,” remarks Mik Garetta, director of the convention since the very beginning.
“The idea arose from the admiration we have for tattooing. We used to travel to the few conventions celebrated in Europe, then we thought it would be a great idea to show tattooing in a non marginal way to the general public, and also, to share learning and exchange knowledge among international artists and the few tattooists working in Spain at the time,” says Mik. “Conventions weren’t very common at the time, so we thought: why not start something new in our own town? We couldn’t find any reason not to do it. That’s how we created the first Spanish International Tattoo Convention, in Barcelona, which is known worldwide as the most cosmopolitan and modern Spanish city”.
Since the first convention, Barcelona Tattoo Expo has been a reference point for other conventions in Europe and has always welcomed remarkable international artists from countries like USA, Japan, Polynesia and New Zealand, among others. The aim of the convention since the beginning has been liaising with the best national and international artists and joining all of them in Barcelona for three days a year, sharing art, experiences and wisdom. This in turn offers the local public the chance to get a tattoo from the best worldwide artists in their own city.
“Currently travelling is much easier, so it’s much more feasible for people to go abroad and get a tattoo from international artists in their own studios. Each time, bringing these artists to Barcelona is more difficult due to the large quantity of conventions you can find around the world nowadays, and this number is increasing considerably each year,” explains Mik. “The main motive of this project all along has been the diffusion and evolution of tattooing in our society”.
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Fira Barcelona Montjuïc, Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, Barcelona, Spain