Not everyone spends Valentine's Day BYOing with their ambiguous are–we–dating–or–do–we–just–fuck–after–Smokes–on–Thursdays person. Last Sunday, the Philadelphia Convention Center played host to its annual tattoo convention for Valentine’s Day. Advertised as the “biggest tattoo convention on the Eastern Seaboard,” this event wasn’t even important enough to merit a Snapchat geofilter. Honestly, though, I respect the notion: relationships come and go, but tattoos are forever.
The room was headache–inducing with the constant buzzing of tattoo guns and some of the 800 different booths playing music ranging from heavy metal to gangster rap. The general anti–establishment feel of the room was evident with each and every tattoo artist I talked to. John Suchoza, a tattoo artist working at a shop called “Off The Map,” in East Hampton, M.A., graduated from art school, but ultimately decided that he would refuse “to be part of the corporate world in any which way. I needed an outlet to express my creativity that didn’t involve responding to anyone above me.”
I tried to talk to everyone that looked like a couple that was there for Valentine’s Day and was met by comments such as, “We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. We just wanted tattoos,” “He’s my brother” and “Fuck Valentine’s day, and fuck everyone who allows corporations to profit off their narrow concept of love confined to a single calendar day.”
As one woman rubbed ointment on the back of a man with a massive shark tattoo, preparing for the “large, colored” category of the tattoo contest, a bald emcee with a long protruding red goatee cursed frivolously at the microphone for not working well enough, while complaining that he was "too high to emcee."
Although I left with a massive headache, this tattoo convention taught me one valuable life lesson: corporations suck.