Ink Spot: Bethlehem’s Skindustry Tattoo Expo showcases work of artists from Luzerne, Lackawanna counties
Ink Spot hit the road this week and wound up at the Skindustry Tattoo Expo, at the Sands Bethlehem Events Center from March 11 to 13.
The Skindustry Expo, in its 9th annual year as a convention, has grown to have a lot of clout throughout the tattoo industry. In other words, spots at this highly selective expo are extremely coveted and quite a few Northeastern Pennsylvania artists managed to get on that roster.
The Skindustry Expo boasted 72 booths and more than one hundred tattooers from all across the globe.
Artist Steve Malley travelled nearly 8,000 miles to attend this year’s Skindustry. As owner and operator of The Jolly Octopus in Christchurch, New Zealand, Malley is a repeat artist at the convention.
“The first time I attended was chance, after that was pure enjoyment,” Malley said. “This year, honestly, has been my favorite so far!”
Some of the artists present were even Ink Spot veterans, such as Tunkhannock Tattoo’s Eric Brocious and Art Rage Tattoo’s Erik Gola.
“It’s been really busy,” said Gola, hard at work, as he tattooed a client. ”We’re definitely having a great time, it’s a great second time back here.”
Electric City Tattoo Gallery’s Woody Wodock is no stranger to conventions. The Scranton-based artist is a long-time regular of the Skindustry Expo – and he also runs his own convention: The Electric City Tattoo Convention.
“It’s a great experience every year for our shop to come down here and tattoo,” Wodock said. “We get a lot of clientele from the Lehigh Valley region who see our work on Instagram, they come here to get tattooed by us.”
Being at Skindustry has helped Wodock grow the Electric City Tattoo Convention into what it is today.
“Steve (Lemak, creator of the Skindustry Expo) is a great guy, we often bounce ideas back and forth off of each other,” Wodock said. “He and I have lots of different ideas, I think it’s really beneficial for us both.”
Lemak is no stranger to the tattoo arts. As both the owner and senior artist at The Quillian Tattoo Shop in Allentown, Lemak has been tattooing for more than 21 years and hosting his convention for nearly a decade.
“The Skindustry, honestly, was created personally as a tool to help myself grow creatively,” Lemak said. “One of the most important tools in any industry is to create a healthy sense of professional envy. I wanted to give exposure and invite artists that I knew had talent – some I knew personally, some I didn’t – and have them come here and exchange ideas, and also help me raise my own bar, professionally.”
Lemak said the Skindustry’s sense of exclusivity is important to the integrity and popularity of the convention.
“When we started 9 years ago at the Holiday Inn in Fogelsville, we had 50 booths. Today, we have 72 and we aren’t looking to grow,” he said. “We like the personable level in which this convention is kept. It helps keep returning artist’s spots guarded and keeps the quality of the convention high.”
Marc’s Tattooing 315 artist, Vinny Peachey, summed up the energy of the weekend aptly: “It’s been a great crowd and it’s by far a favorite convention for almost everyone invited and those who attend.”
Rachel Holly is a correspondent for Weekender. Reach Weekender at [email protected]