Your guide to the 2022 Hell City Tattoo Festival in Phoenix

People have used tattoos throughout history to share information about themselves. Today, tattoos often have very personal meanings. They can show a person’s membership in a group, his love for another person, his cultural heritage or his interest in a certain subject.

The Hell City Tattoo Festival celebrates the art of tattooing with three days of inking, tattoo and art themed vendors and live art activities. It’s August 26-28 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

Hell City turns 20 this year. Owner and promoter Durb Morrison hosts two festivals a year, this one and another in Columbus, Ohio. The Phoenix show started in 2008.

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“I want to paint the tattoo in a positive light”

The Hell City Tattoo Festival offers a chance to see tattoo artists at work.

Morrison, a professional tattoo artist for 33 years, showcases tattooing as an elevated art form by bringing in more than 220 high-caliber artists from Arizona and other parts of the country.

The festival often attracts newbies who have never attended a tattoo event or don’t have tattoos.

“This is their chance to go beyond television, to go beyond magazines to experience tattooing live. I want to paint the tattoo in a positive light,” Morrison said.

“People coming in, it could be their first experience in the world of tattooing. I want them to see it from a professional side of the industry. The look and presentation of the tattoo could make or break their way of life. see tattoos and if they want to get tattoos.

Participants can observe the tattoo artists at work.

“You can walk the aisles. You can stand at the artists’ table where their portfolios are, and you can sit and watch. You can have conversations with them,” Morrison said.

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“There are so many things you can learn”

The Hell City Tattoo Festival offers a chance to see tattoo artists at work.

Tattoo artists often try to learn by watching other artists.

“Tattooing is a very visual art form. Even the application is very visual on how to dip in your ink or wipe off skin. There’s so much you can learn,” Morrison said.

Many tattoo artists make it a vacation, spending a few days or a week at a hotel. Every evening, the hotel hosts pool parties filled with artists and tattoo enthusiasts.

“I want to give them an experience that they won’t have in other salons,” says Morrison.

Morrison started attending tattoo festivals when he was 18. Her experiences gave her insight into how to run her own festival.

“I’m not just a yahoo trying to make money from tattooing. In fact, I’ve dedicated my life to tattooing,” Morrison said. “For me, it’s something huge. A lot of artists don’t like to see people making money from the industry without having dedicated at least a decade to tattooing.

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What to expect at the Hell City Tattoo Festival

The Hell City Tattoo Festival offers a chance to see tattoo artists at work.

The festival’s tattoo competitions attract large audiences and pools of applicants. Some categories receive up to 70 participants.

Competitions include categories such as Best Large Color, Best Large Black and Gray, Best Male & Female Overall, Most Unusual, Best Biomechanical, Best Asian Tattoo, Best Small Color, Best Sleeve , the worst tattoo and the best portrait.

The tattoo of the day category highlights tattoos made on site by festival artists.

Five to nine judges determine the winners, who are announced right after each category. Morrison says winning is special because of the personal connection people have with their tattoos.

“When people win the awards, it brings a whole new appreciation not just for artists but for tattoos as well,” Morrison said.

The event will also showcase the talents of tattoo artists in other ways.

As part of the Wet Paint Project, around thirty local and foreign tattoo artists will paint live. Their pieces will be available for purchase.

The Art Fusion Experiment is a collaborative effort in which three to five artists will work together on different canvases, changing every three to five minutes.

“It’s a really cool mix of styles. It is also a very good artistic performance for the crowd to watch the art process. It’s not just instantaneous. It takes hours,” says Morrison.

These pieces will be sold at a charity auction to benefit children’s education. The artists’ works will also be displayed throughout the ballroom.

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Burlesque and body modification shows

The main stage will feature burlesque performances from Maxi Millions and Cervena Fox and a circus act from husband and wife team Captain and Maybelle.

Body modification artist Steve Haworth will also give a special performance on Saturday.

New tattoo styles are always emerging. Morrison said geometric patterns and stippling, or the use of patterns of small dots, became more popular.

“We see so many styles these days with tattoos. It’s something awesome that you thought you couldn’t do on skin 20 years ago,” says Morrison.

Hell City Tattoo Festival

When: 12pm-11pm Friday and Saturday August 26-27. Noon-8 p.m. Sunday, August 28.

Where: Arizona Biltmore, 2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix.

Admission: $25 for Friday and Sunday passes, $30 for Saturday pass, $75 for weekend pass.


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