BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – Nearly 80 tattoo artists from around the nation set up shop in Bristol to tattoo people for the annual three-day State Street Tattoo Fest.
Organizers from The Bristol Tattoo Company started the festival four years ago in 2019.
“This is the busiest year we’ve had so far,” said Justin Brown, organizer and owner of Bristol Tattoo Company. “So, we’re really excited about that. Everyone’s been working, and doing some really cool tattoos.”
Tattoo Fest organizers made sure to invite a wide array of tattoo artists that specialize in a variety of techniques and styles.
“We have people that really do just about anything and everything,” said Brown. “From black and gray to color realism, traditional. So, we hand-selected all of the tattooers that are here. They’re all of our friends and peers. So, we were able to get a wide variety of different styles and everything.”
Robin Simpson recently moved to the Bristol area and said she’s been to several other tattoo festivals. This is her first time at the State Street Tattoo Fest.
“I know Justin, and he gets some of the best tattoo artists from all over the country to come here,” said Simpson. “I’ve been to many tattoo conventions in the past, in different parts of the United States, and I think this is one of the better ones. I just think he does a great job bringing in all different styles and genres of artistry here.”
Simpson ended up getting tattooed by Joey Feliciano.
Feliciano owns a tattoo shop called “Black Asylum Tattoo” in St. Cloud, Florida. He’s been in the tattoo industry for 10 years and has been a tattoo artist for five years. He said he is lifelong friends with some of the artists who work at Bristol Tattoo Company. This is his third year tattooing at the State Street Tattoo Fest.
“I do a little bit more neo-traditional. I try and do a little bit of everything, but I mainly lean towards neo-traditional color work,” said Feliciano, about his tattoo style.
He encourages people to research what styles specific tattoo artists specialize in before getting a tattoo.
“Finding an artist that either clicks with you, as well as finding an art style that you are more drawn to because every artist has a specific art style,” said Feliciano. “So, I would definitely say if you’re interested in getting a tattoo or just new to the industry, there’s so many ways to go about finding different resources and references on different ideas and things like that.”
Simpson encourages anyone that’s thinking about getting tattoos to get them; however, she says to talk to a tattoo artist first.
“It is forever,” said Simpson. “So decide cautiously. But I encourage anybody and everybody. It’s a personal art statement on your body, and I think it’s a great art form to express yourself.”
Awards for “Best in Color” and “Best in Black and Grey” tattoos were awarded to tattoo artists each day. On the last day of the fest, best-in-show overall awards were given to tattoo artists in each of those categories as well.