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United Ink Summer Vibe Tattoo Festival - The United State Of Ink
In preparation for their fall United Ink Convention, "Tattoo Lou" Rubino and company whet our appetite for body art with their first Summer Vibe Tattoo Festival. Held over the weekend of June 7-9, Lou and his (HBIC) wife, Jackie, got the summer of 2013 off on a heavily inked foot by filling the convention space at the Nassau Coliseum in Hempstead, NY, with King slingers, wild freak show madness, beautiful "Tattooed Angels," and an assembly of some of the sickest ink collectors on the planet.
The roster of artists churning out masterful mark-ups all weekend boasted such impressive names as "NY Ink" cast member Chris Torres, our friends from Harlem Hype Tattoo, Alex, from Freestyle Mania in the Bronx, the tat-crazy crew from Long Island's own Murda Ink 3, and a collection of all-star tattooers from Tattoo Lou's local shops. Unimax, Metal Taboo, Tattoo Ink Lock aftercare, Razorblade Tattoo Supply, and Inkaddict Apparel were among the vendors scattered through the floor plan, and tattooed celebs on the prowl all three days included Al Fliction, Heather Moss, Crazy Face, Shawn O'Hare, and Lady Live.

Oh yeah, Urban Ink Magazine was there, too! We set up our spacious booth and shooting space smack in the middle of the action, and captured every ink-dripping moment for UI Nation.

The Urban Ink presence was well received at the Summer Vibe gathering. We'd like to think that the crowd around our super-sized booth was three and five bodies deep because people just love our mag. However, the truth is that the attention we garnered had more to do with the constant flow of hot, tatted ladies in bikinis and lingerie who were at the ready to take pics with fans, attendees, and freshly tatted visitors. Heather Moss, Jenny Sunshine Dust, Morgan Renee, KeighlaNight, and Lady Live were some of the top-shelf female specimens who stood with us to take pics, hand out UI swag, and bare as much tatted skin for the cameras as the law would allow.

Pole dancing competition, the balls-to-the-wall antics of the punk sideshow act, Freak Kings, live bands, body paint exhibitions, a pin-up contest, suspension madness, and more kept the crowd entertained and captivated while taking in the ink happenings on the convention floor.

Each day, we broke from our booth to tour the floor to check out the art that was being drilled into eager flesh.

We were a bit blown away by the works being done by the likes of Andres Hurtado, Jason Ackerman, Eddie Castillo, and Mike Pastore. Tattooers across the globe were fully represented, as tat masters from lands such as England, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Ukraine, and the USA were in attendance.

Contests and award presentations were the highlight of each day for those artists and collectors looking for some new editions to their trophy cases. Friday night set the convention in the right direction with a stiff Tattoo Of The Day contest. Saturday saw awards go out in 18 different categories, including male and female back, color, and black & grey, as well as portraits in large, medium, and micro divisions. Sunday was the biggest day for ink competition, with Tattoo Of The Day, Best Overall Female, Best Overall Male, and Best Of Show trophies going out to first-, second- and third-place winners.

The Summer Vibe Festival was also not without some outstanding seminar classes. The legendary Shanghai Kate gave an amazing lecture on the history of body art that included a number of her own personal stories of encounters with some of the most recognized names in the world of tattooing. Troy Timpel ran a Tattoo Watercolor Painting Techniques seminar that received great praise from those in attendance, and the captivating Eva Medusa gave a presentation on body modification that also touched on the subject of transgenderism.

By Sunday night, machines and inks were being packed away, Tattooed Angles were covering up their "assets," and the freaks were being put back in their cages. It was a fantastic show and, as many headed for the doors, we began making plans to reunite a few months down the line at the upcoming Second Annual United Ink Convention.

For information on all of Tattoo Lou's shows and events, visit

Photography by Dan Howell
Article by Felix Cruz

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