Annual Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival brings cavalcade of renowned artists to town

Tuesday 13th, October 2015 / 15:54
By Jennie Orton

CALGARY — For those of us who feel the same way about the buzz of a tattoo machine as most people feel about giggling babies, the Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival is a trip to the holy land. The largest tattoo and arts show in the country offers an encyclopedic voyage into not only the art of tattoos, but into the art that inspires them.

The festival takes over the BMO Centre at Stampede Park on October 16th until the 18th and though there are over 350 exhibitors and artists attending this year, these five truly shouldn’t be missed.

Steve Moore

For over 20 years, this Nanaimo, B.C. based master of West Coast new school of tattooing has been cultivating a style that is staggeringly intricate and bold. Moore will be doing work at the Calgary festival where, in 2013, he did a collaborative back piece toe-to-toe with Calgary’s own James Tex of Deadly Tattoos Inc. The resulting thundering stampede of colourful but fantastically real pachyderms is the most action you’ll ever see coming off of ink.

Heather McLean

Charcoal Backpack.  Artwork: Heather McLean

Charcoal Backpack.
Artwork: Heather McLean

A tattoo artist for 15 years, McLean has shifted her focus to painting and will be bringing her work to the Festival Gallery as well as hosting a booth. A fascination with quantum mechanics, biology, psychology, and “express[ing] the ineffable through images” marries deep study with the human body in her work. The result is a very visceral approach to ethereal imagery. McLean also recommends that the audience go check out Connie Conrad a.k.a. Lady Arcane, a taxidermy artist and all-around lover of the divine architecture within the skull.

Brandyn Feldman

Brandyn Feldman has been a tattoo artist for 15 years but has made a name for himself in equal amount for his handcrafted coil machines. Known for being fast, powerful, and extremely consistent, Feldman Electric machines are the labour of love 11 years in the making. Feldman started off making his own machines and quickly decided it was time for machines “built for the tattooer by a tattooer.” Brandyn will be a featured artist at the show (he specializes in traditional tattooing) so be sure to check out his handiwork and get his thoughts on modern machinery.


Psyten will be lecturing a charity seminar on the history and technique of Tebori Art, which is the painstaking practice of tattooing by hand, without the benefit of a tattoo gun. The practice takes years of discipline and study to perfect. In the absence of guns, most of the work is done by wooden handles inch-by-inch; so in other words, wussies need not apply. For information on the seminar you can contact Strictly Tattoo Gallery at 1.604.558.1128.

Clint Danroth

Craftsman Tattoo Parlour is a definitive custom tattoo shop, home to a stable of artists who share Danroth’s love of distinct large custom pieces (though walk-ins are welcome) and a love of West Coast living. Danroth’s pinups are especially sought after, with their large new school eyes and lips popping out from traditional/Asian themes, making the pieces seductively street. Clint pre-books most sitting time for the festival from email requests, but he also keeps sittings open for pre-drawn one-off sketches made specifically for the show. You can catch a glimpse of some of these on his Instagram account @cdanroth and claim one for yourself.

Bring your thick skin and love of the buzz to the BMO Centre at Stampede Park Friday, October 16 from four p.m. until midnight (the licensed “Adults Only” night). The festival is open on Saturday, October 17 from noon until 10 p.m., and Sunday, October 18 from noon until six p.m. Tickets are $25 at the door or $50 for a weekend pass. Kids 14 and under get in free Saturday and Sunday.

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