The fourth annual Savannah Tattoo Festival will soon be filling the Savannah Convention Center with the echoes of hundreds of pulsing tattoo machines.
This year’s festival takes place May 17 to 19 and will feature over 200 tattooers, live mural painting, sideshow troupe Carnival of Curiosity and Chaos, and world famous performer The Enigma. Local favorites Savannah Sweet Tease Burlesque will be rounding out the entertainment roster.
Artists from all across the southeast and continental U.S. will be traveling to come sling some ink in our very own port city, where the body art market continues to rise.
Tattooer Chris Norrell, who’ll be attending the convention representing local Savannah shop Kustom Hustle Tattoo, said he enjoys conventions because they allow viewers “an in-person glimpse into the state of tattooing from all over the country.”
“I like having the chance to put my paintings and drawings in front of a large group of people who might never see them otherwise, and I’m really looking forward to tattooing some of my own custom flash designs,” Norrell said.
With all the additional entertainment it can become easy to forget that at its core this festival is centered around art and artists. As working artists, tattooers are constantly striving to create new innovative drawings and designs daily.
The prevalence of Instagram and the ability to publicly share ones work on such a widely used forum has fueled a blossoming public interest in the skin art scene.
Norrell has noticed how social media and the public’s interest has changed the industry during his 16 years as a tattoo artist.
“The demand for higher and higher quality is noticeable,” Norrell said. “People know more about tattoos and have a better idea of what makes them good or bad. I’m also given a lot more creative freedom by clients than ever before.”
Regardless of your standing in the tattoo community from completely covered to the uninitiated, there will be entertainment options for everyone, including various stage shows and a temporary tattoo contest for kids where artists will draw Sharpie tattoos on attendees under the age of 18.
The Enigma, often recognized for his dedication to extreme body modification, is also a classically trained musician, sideshow performer, and magician who has been actively redefining the limits of live entertainment for over 20 years.
Gracing the cover of numerous tattoo magazines and twice featured in National Geographic, The Enigma's major modifications include ear reshaping, horn implants, and most notably the two thousand puzzle-piece shaped tattoos that cover his entire body and won him a Guinness World Record title.
The Carnival of Curiosity and Chaos features a variety of traditional and modern carnival acts, including fire work, human suspension, underwater escapes, and numerous other vaudeville type acts.
If you’re not already familiar with the twirling tassels of the Savannah Sweet Tease, be prepared to be blown away by their revealing costumes and eloquent pageantry.