Celebrating the Art–and Fun–of the Tattoo World

By Sara Smith

The Limestone City Tattoo and Arts Festival brings tattoo artistry to the forefront of a fascinating, family-friendly event.
Tattoo culture has pretty much entered the mainstream, but the idea of a design permanently marked on your skin still isn’t for everyone. Luckily, the Limestone City Tattoo and Arts Festival allows you to enjoy the creativity and artistry of the tattoo world — whether or not you’re after some ink of your own.
The festival, which takes place September 16th and 17th at the Four Points by Sheraton in downtown Kingston, aims to bring together people from all different walks of life — not just those who are heavily into tattoo culture. Over the course of two days, attendees will be treated to activities, performances, and a wide array of fascinating vendors, as well as the chance to meet (and get tattooed by) the 50 international tattoo artists who have been invited to attend.
Celebrating the Art - and Fun - of the Tattoo World
Though the focus is on the artistry of the tattoo world, Ashley Silversides (the festival’s co-organizer and producer) is quick to point out that this festival has something for everyone. “This festival is for absolutely everybody — from the really avid tattoo collector to the individual who has never gotten a tattoo, to the soccer mom whose tattoos you maybe don’t see,” she says. “We are a family-friendly event. There’s even a kids’ station where they can get tattoo stencils — not with real ink, of course! There’s no one that this festival excludes.”

Celebrating the Art - and Fun - of the Tattoo World
A happy tot shows off his non-permanent ink at the kids’ tattoo station. Photo via Limestone City Tattoo and Arts Festival

Features of this year’s fest will include a jail escape room from Improbable Escapes, a strongman performance, live music, and tons of merchandise from vendors such as Motosport Plus, Machete Premium Cuts, Tangled Tine Taxidermy, and more. A Sunday after-party is also in the works, and more information will be posted soon on the fest website and social media.  “We will also have an art gallery consisting of a lot of local Kingston artists,” says Silversides. “It’s going to be a really all-around fun event for everybody.”
She explains that the purpose of the fest is, in part, to bring the creative expression of the tattoo medium to the forefront. “I think it’s really important to sort of change the idea of what tattooing is, and recognize that it is a beautiful art form,” she says. “Although they’re tattooers, all of these individuals are artists first. What people can do now, tattoo-wise and artistically, is pretty mind-blowing.”
By inviting 50 artists from across the nation — and the globe — to the event, the organizers aim to showcase talents and styles not normally seen in this neck of the woods. “Every artist has their own style and their own niche, and it’s pretty cool that we get to bring those people into Kingston,” says Silversides. “We have great art here, but there’s so much more happening outside of this city, and across the world.”
The 50 invited artists will be displaying some of their work, chatting with interested attendees, and of course, offering on-site tattoos. For anyone hoping to get a new piece done at the festival, Silversides recommends getting directly in touch with the artist ahead of time. “Some artists do walk-up only, so it’s a first-come, first-serve type of thing at the event,” she says. “But we always say it’s best to just contact them, get in touch, and go from there.” An example of each artist’s work, as well as links to their social media accounts, can be found on the festival website.

Celebrating the Art - and Fun - of the Tattoo World
Attendees browse the vast range of artist designs. Photo via Limestone City Tattoo and Arts Festival

This year’s fest will also offer an exciting opportunity to win a unique tattoo designed by one of the attending artists. Four of the invited tattooers will create a custom piece, and one lucky attendee will get to choose their favourite and receive a free tattoo on Sunday the 17th. For more details on this contest, follow Limestone City Tattoo Festival on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, or watch their website for updates.
“Kingston is the perfect choice for a festival rich with so many activities, attractions, and forms of creative expression,” says Silversides. The vibe of the city, its centralized location, and welcoming nature of the citizens made last year’s tattoo festival a runaway success, and the organizers expect to repeat the magic again this year. “We have an amazing city. But it also doesn’t feel like a city — it feels more like a lot of small communities brought together,” she says. Many of the volunteers and attendees at the 2016 event weren’t heavily into tattoo culture — they simply wanted to be a part of the fun and artistry of the event. “Even if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy tattoos per se,” she says, “if you’re an art lover, we have all the art you need.”
To learn more about the Limestone City Tattoo Festival, visit their website: http://www.limestonetattoofestival.com/