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Robin Hood tattoo festival

Photo credit: Claire Gable Photography
Photo credit: Claire Gable Photography

Photo credit: Claire Gable Photography

I’m not a tattoo artist, or even a tattooed artist, but I spent a wonderful weekend as a stallholder at the Robin Hood tattoo festival over the weekend of the 31st August.

There are independent tattoo conventions and festivals all around the country. With one just up the road in Derby,  Nottingham is a little late to the party, but when Nottingham people do things, I like to think we wait until the opportune moment and do them with flair!

Hosted by the incredibly talented and well respected folks at Rampant Ink in Netherfield, this was by far the friendliest and best organised event I have ever had the pleasure to attend. There were incredible tattoo artists from all over the country in attendance, many of whom were fully booked for appointments long before the doors opened! At the weekend progressed we watched their work take shape on the beautiful bodies of people all shapes and sizes. At the end of each day, clingfilm wrapped folks were proudly entered into competitions by their artists. New designs were shared, compared and discussed at length, as people shared a beer and a sausage sarnie and mopped up oozy plasma dribbles from their rather sore looking backs and legs and hands and feet …etc! Everyone was keen to chat about the new artists they’d discovered at the festival and more importantly, what their next tattoo would be!

Photo credit: Claire Gable photography

Photo credit: Claire Gable photography

We were entertained all day and all evening  by all kinds of musicians, from rock & country to rockabilly. We watched medieval re-enactors sword fight on the lawn and ate ice cream from a vintage ice cream van called Betsy! There were cakes, beer, clothing, jewellery, taxidermy and art in absolute abundance.

As a non-tattooed person there is always a fear of feeling like the odd one out, but you couldn’t hope to find a more warm and welcoming community. We were made to feel like part of the family by Grey and Claire from Rampant Ink and by all of their ‘Squires’ and made a lot of new friends.

What I particularly loved about the Robin Hood tattoo festival was that it wasn’t obsessed by being the biggest or the brashest, it was humbly held in a most unexpected, but ideal venue, away from the crowds of the city centre. Cotgrave Miners Welfare! Having grown up in Cotgrave and spent many an hour watching village pantomimes and teenage band rehearsals, it was lovely to see somebody acknowledging the potential of a venue like this. Many would dismiss it as a quaint relic of a the coal-mining era, but bringing an event like this out of the city boosts a small local community and economy and it’s great to see people realising that it isn’t just the city centre that deserves to host cultural events!

Photo credit: Claire Gable photography

Photo credit: Claire Gable photography

Love tattoos or hate them, you cannot deny that many tattoo artists are simply incredible artists, full stop. they creative beautiful and meaningful artwork. They just happen to choose skin as their canvas! If you dismiss this art form you are missing out on a wealth of talented creative people, in the Midlands alone!  Next year why not come along and see a living art gallery take shape in front if your eyes and share a beer with some friendly and talented people!

If there is one thing that you cannot underestimate about tattoo enthusiasts, is their love of art and willingness to invest in (and wax lyrical about) the art and artists they adore. What wonderful company to be in!