My first convention ever – off to Salzburg!
You may wonder why my blog is called “Chaos”, but the longer you read my articles you will be convinced that the title is very fitting. So the tickets for the Wildstyle-Tattoo-Convention were sold in the year of 2020. Back then Sabine Fuhrmann and I still shared the studio in Floridsdorf, Vienna. It was a perfectly normal day when I got the flyers from Wildstyle and that they’re looking for exhibitors and I asked myself: “Why not?”, so I ordered two tickets. One for me and one I thought for Sabine, or for anybody who would like to share the stand with me. That would be Future-Lucy’s problem.
The months passed by like the trees and houses when you travel by high-speed-train. As I told you in my lore I was busy moving to my smaller studio at the end of 2020/beginning of 2021 and therefor I mostly forgot about the Wildstyle.
The Anxiety kicking in
A few weeks before I got a reminder from the organizer by Mail and started to freak out. What am I supposed to do? Who will go with me? Where would I get a car from? What if I forget something? Just the normal thoughts. I started calling through my whole phone and started with my Artist Friends from Salzburg first, since I got an exhibitor-ticket for the Wildstyle-event in Salzburg. Everybody was occupied that weekend or they didn’t want to go. At the End I called Boldi Balla who immediately said “sure”. I met him a few times before, mostly at random occasions but I knew his style and I had the impression that either everything will be total chaos at the convention and I will totally lose my mind, or due to his many years of experience it would all run smoothly, but nothing in between.
Afterwards you’re always wiser and I remembered that I still have to get a rental car. In Vienna nobody of my friends has a driver licence because everything is easily accessible via public transportation (and finding a parking lot is a pain), and the ones who had a car needed it themselves. So I tried to find a rental car last-minute on budget. The only one I found on my budget was super old (older than my first car, that was even older than my Puch Maxi, can you believe it?) and therefor sucky to drive (oldtimers have “personality” you know). Good thing that I’m experienced with old cars.
I packed the rusty Polo with my whole shop-interior and parked my car near my then-boyfriend’s flat in the no-parking zone (because there was no vacant parking spot), didn’t sleep for the whole night because I was so nervous that I forgot something. The next day I started the tour at 5 o’ clock in the morning, slapped myself in the face multiple times to not fall asleep during driving. I also ignored the ticket I got for parking in the restricted area until it got blown off the windshield on the freeway. Future-Lucy’s problem. The goal was to arrive alife and in one piece in Salzburg.
Somehow I managed to get there and allowed myself to rest for a while before I tried to find my booth in the exhibition hall. And what I whitnessed intimidated me so much that I almost decided to just go straight back to Vienna. Then the phone rang.
A strange looking figure robbed my shop and drove off in a rusty Polo
It was my shop neighbor from my studio. He was upset! “OMG Lucy, somebody robbed your shop! One of my clients told me that he whitnessed a strange looking figure driving away with a rusty Polo! He took everything, the shop is completely empty! But we have the licence plate!”, he yelled. The first time that day I had to smile. What an amazing neighborhood I have! He was confused that I laughed it off, but then I explained, that the strange looking figure was me and I went to a convention and that I’d be back the next week. Then he laughed too and apologized for calling me a strange looking figure.
Why I was so intimidated
The phone rang again, it was Boldi, the other Tattoo Artist who I shared my booth with. “Hey, I’m running late, please go in, I’ll be there in about an hour!”, he said. I looked at the other artists in their business-vans printed with their logos, their fancy all-black-carts, the inks wrapped in clingfilm and almost all of them wore black hoodies with their studio logos printed on the back. Of course almost all of them were huge, bald, and fully covered in tattoos. They looked so insanely cool and professional, I started crying for 20 minutes straight. I had no business-van, not even a black hoodie with my logo printed on the back. I was wearing basic-white-girl – clothes, jeans, and a long beige coat, sitting in a rusty little rented car, my inks were just in a cardboard box and Aldi-bags, not in fancy carts. And I was alone. So I called Boldi again:
“Excuse me, where the f*ck are you? Can you please come and find our booth? I can’t go in.”
“Sorry dude, go in, don’t worry, just don’t think, just go in, I’ll be there in 20 min, I overslept a little.”, he said and hung up.
Well, okay, what would be the worst thing that could happen? I thought of a few scenarios: They could laugh at me because I looked stupid. Couldn’t get worse than in high-school so I’d be fine. They could refuse to let me in. That wouldn’t happen because I brought my business-licence printed for that scenario and also the bank wire confirmation that I paid the booth. I would only be f*cked if they’d ask me for an ID because I noticed that I left my driver’s licence at home for whatever reason. What else? Well, there wasn’t anything else. Somebody knocked at the car-window. It was one of the cool, very professional and scary looking tattooers.
“It’s your turn! You can park directly in front of the door and unload your stuff!”, he said very friendly. He wasn’t confused at all. He just accepted me of “one of them”. So I did as he told me, mechanically, but when I went to the entrance-dude to register, I wore my sunglasses to hide my red eyes. When I carried all of the stuff to the booth, my fear quickly faded away. I only got a few glances from the others, but not because I looked like a hobo, but because they were just curious of who I am since they never had seen me before.
The booth was finished and Boldi showed up. “Now nothing can’t go wrong anymore. Why are you wearing sunglasses inside? Did you smoke pot?”, he asked. “Yes.” I said because I was too ashamed to admit that I had a full blown anxiety attack in the car with a crying session.
Soon, before we even hung the posters, I had my first client. It was my former piercing-student from Salzburg, Tynki! What a nice surprise! As soon as I started tattooing I was in the zone and nothing could startle me any more. Later when we had some time to chat, I told Boldi about my anxiety disorder and that he just should let me tattoo and I’d be fine. I don’t need any break, I don’t need any distraction, I only want to tattoo and that’s it. He didn’t believe me first.
“You look just normal and very confident to me. No way you have an anxiety disorder.”
“Thank you, it’s nice that you say that but the reason my eyes were red before was because I cried in the car, I didn’t smoke pot.”, I stated.
The more I tattooed, the calmer I became. Our booth was always occupied and there was constantly a little crowd standing in front of it. I had clients non-stop and many of them are regulars up until today. For example Harry who I tattooed for the first time at the convention came to my studio and got a coverup of one of his older tattoos.
One incident was also very remarkable about this Convention. A group of girls wanted some tattoos and one of them, Anna Maria, she was about 19 years old back then I think and wanted to get her first tattoo, a dragon. She showed me a reference-picture on her phone which I really liked but I sent her away again to think about the size and placement, because the reference dragons were a little too tiny-tiny for my taste. She agreed on making it bigger and more detailed and i started drawing. Meanwhile she went for a walk with her friends. I sent her the finished sketch and she immediately replied: “Yes, that’s it, exactly like you drew it.”
The Dragon Tattoo
It was already a little late and I started making the stencil (or did I do it freehand? I can’t remember exactly). It was on her chest. She was totally relaxed but I was a bit worried because lots of people stopped to stare at her tattoo. I put Boldi as a wall in front of her so i can do the tattoo in peace and shield her from the people staring at her half-naked body. The dragon was so detailed and I constantly had to fight off people staring at her, so it took me a while. But the girl seemed so relaxed, she didn’t flinch one time, didn’t move and never complained about anything. I think I was more nervouse than her the whole time. The pressure increased because it was already past midnight and the organizer tried to kick us out multiple times. That’s where I started to panick again. Boldi took the tattoo machine out of my hand one time, there I started shaking. As soon as he put it back into my hand I was completely calm. “Ok now I understand.”, he said and continued to shield us from the chaos of the “outside world”. At half past midnight we had to leave. I was devastated. I needed to finish this dragon! And it was her first tatoo! We already went through so much hassle, now it was my personal main quest I had to finish. But how? It was in the middle of the night and I couldn’t just sneak back into the fair-hall since all the securities looked at us very pissed (which I totally understand… I would be pissed aswell) since they had to stay overtime to close the building.
We were standing at the parking lot and Boldi suggested: “You can finish the tattoo in my studio if you want to.” So we went. “But you have to take me there, I drank alcohol so I can’t go by bike any more.”
The night was pitch-black and I saw the lights of another car behind me. At a red light I pushed through the gas and outspaced the car behind me.
“Why did you do that? That was your client, lol”, Boldi said.
“Really? I thought it’s the police.”, I answered.
“But why would you be afraid of the police? Do you carry drugs?”
“No, but I don’t have a driver’s licence.”
For a second he turned pale. “… You have one, but you don’t have it with you!”
“Gotcha! But the situation called me to make that joke.”, I explained.
“And you’re right!”
Soon we arrived at the studio after Boldi called the client to explain the route after I outspaced them. As soon as I finished the dragon at 3 in the morning, took the photo and wrapped up my Client Anna Maria I collapsed in a chair and slept like a corpse until the next morning.
The next day somebody wanted a tattoo of his own self-drawn sketch but it was too small and he refused to let me redraw it. But I didn’t have a printer. A nightmare! Of course I would have been able to find somebody with a printer on a tattoo convention but in the end we’re all more or less rivals and lending me the printer would have been an act of 100% generosity. Luckily Boldi was friends with our neighbors and they let me scan, resize and print the clien’s sketch. Later I lent them my arm-talbe and I felt so relieved to have some friends nearby.
New friends and exchanged Guest-Spots
At the very end of the convention we chat a little with them and the owner Kilian invited me to visit his studio to do a guestspot some times. That was the very beginning of our business-relationship and I’ll tell you more about my Piercing-Guestspot in an extra-article.