Art in action Tom Curran/

The 8th Annual Ink-N-Iron Tattoo and Kustom Culture Festival hit Long Beach, California, this past weekend, using the legendary Queen Mary as the backdrop along with a flock of men with facial tattoos, cabaret dancers and pole aerialists. This unique festival not only showcases the work of tattoo artists from around the world, but also live music, art shows, burlesque girls, pin stripping, vintage cars and motorcycles and even a pin-up girl contest.

Taking up three levels of the Atrium Exhibit Hall inside the ship, close to 300 tattoo artists from 30 states and 25 countries were onsite representing tattoo styles from Sailor Jerry to Japanese Tebori tattoos. From Sweden to New Jersey, the best of the best were busy tattooing. Some patrons waited a year just to be permanently inked by their favorite tattoo artist.

null Tom Curran/

“We had over 20,000 people visit the festival this year,” says Trace Edwards of Keen Entertainment, one of the event producers. “The return of the bumper cars were definitely a standout, hosting the Buzzcocks and Detroit Cobras was outstanding. The Kulture Klash artshow was a smash hit and Dr. Sketchy's broke their own record. This year was the busiest the tattoo convention component has ever been.”

Music and Rides

This year, the car show was hosted by Cavaliers Car Club and featured hand-picked pre-1963 custom cars. Three different music stages hosted a wide range of musical acts such as Adolescentes, Fishbones, The Vandals and The Paladins. Big and small bands alike are excited to be a part of the festival. I spoke with Justin Flag of Anti-Flag after their set who told me “I love playing crowds like this. It’s incredible!”

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