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Israelis get distinctively inked at Tattoo Convention

Annual Tel Aviv event is a celebration of body art, which has been growing, gaining acceptance here over past decade

Luke Tress is an editor and a reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Israelis from across the country and visitors from abroad flocked to the Tel Aviv Convention Center on Friday for the fourth annual Israel Tattoo Convention.

Friday’s event drew around 2,000 attendees and featured about 50 Israeli tattoo artists and 50 visiting studios. Many of the artists offered discounted tattoos and piercings, and many of the mostly young, mostly alternative crowd sported fresh ink covered in plastic on their arms, legs and torsos.

“What I want to happen with this event, is first of all for people to have fun, get ink, show their ink, and to feel very comfortable with how they look and no one will judge them,” said Shay Daudi, the producer of the event.

Tattoo and body modification culture has grown in Israel over the past 10 years, said Daudi, who does piercings for a living.

Shay Daudi, producer of Israel's Tattoo Convention, pierces a client at the annual event in Tel Aviv. October 7, 2016. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
Shay Daudi, producer of Israel’s Tattoo Convention, pierces a client at the annual event in Tel Aviv. October 7, 2016. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

“It’s more common today when people get sleeves, a full back tattoo, a chest piece, neck tattoo, face tattoo. It’s getting more popular and more normal to do it,” he said.

In addition to the rows of artists’ booths, the event featured body paint, piercings, and jewelry, art and clothing for sale. A live band played rock covers, and a troupe called the Squidling Brothers put on a NSFW “freak show.”

Around 50 Israeli tattoo artists and 50 visiting studios offered discounted tattoos at the Israel Tattoo Convention in Tel Aviv. October 7, 2016. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
Around 50 Israeli tattoo artists and 50 visiting studios offered discounted tattoos at the Israel Tattoo Convention in Tel Aviv. October 7, 2016. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Mostly, Israelis gathered to celebrate the tattoo subculture in the country.

Daudi believes Israel’s diversity has created a distinct tattoo scene, mixing art, styles and skin tones from different regions of the world.

Israelis and visitors from abroad got tattooed at the Israel Tattoo Convention in Tel Aviv. October 7, 2016. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
Israelis and visitors from abroad got tattooed at the Israel Tattoo Convention in Tel Aviv. October 7, 2016. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Another recent exhibit celebrating tattoo culture in Israel called “LOOK AT ME” opened in Jaffa this week. Fashion photographers took pictures of Israeli celebrities who unveiled their inked skin for the show.

"Sideshow Rambo," a member of the Squidling Brothers "freak show," performs at the Israel Tattoo Convention. October 7, 2016. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
“Sideshow Rambo,” a member of the Squidling Brothers “freak show,” performs at the Israel Tattoo Convention. October 7, 2016. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Daudi said he hopes events like this will help move tattoo culture in Israel into the mainstream.

“It’s going to be much more normal for people, to accept it more,” he said. “People will look at it just as art and as something beautiful.”

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