Midwest Ink & Metal Fest
5800 Will Rogers Road, Midwest City
$15 day, $30 weekend
It will be a very metal weekend as body modification, tattooing, custom cars and metal music get their time to shine during the three-day Midwest Ink & Metal Fest. The expo that began last year as a tattoo convention paired with live music is promoting "metal" as a culture unto itself.
"Metal Fest means more than just metal music," said Stephanie Mathis, event coordinator. "It is a celebration of all things metal in the industry, from the machines that tattoo artists use, to the jewelry tools for piercers, the hooks used in suspensions, and the artist that uses metal as a media to create their art. From the music to the artists, all aspects of metal will be featured."
Despite a widened scope, the link between music and tattoos remains at the heart of the event. According to Mathis, they share a deep, cultural link.
"The music helps the customer get more comfortable with the procedure they are going through. As a metal fan myself, it's more about expressing ourselves," she said. "Yet, I do feel that the tattoo industry is gaining ground with many other styles of music, which is one of the reasons why we are incorporating more styles in the convention this year."
So, what's metal enough for a Metal Fest?
Performance art featuring Teaze Dance & Fitness, Carnival of Cleavage and The Captain's Sideshow; a fashion show of ceramic corsets; car and motorcycle shows; and local bands playing rockabilly, ska, country punk, reggae and, of course, metal. And, for the kids, face painting and a petting zoo on Sunday.
Tattoo artists will remain the centerpiece.
"We have a lot of great artists this year. We have over 40 artist booths, and a lot of them will be filled with talent from right here in Oklahoma. There is no reason to travel outside of this state to receive a top-notch tattoo," said promoter Sabrina DeQuasie. "However, just like any other service industry, it is important to do your research before buying " just like you would when looking for a home or a car."
For the tattoo collector wanting to investigate out-of-state talent, DeQuasie said artists from as far as Florida will promote their work at the show. It might seem a long way to go when there is perfectly good virgin skin back home, but she said conferences are a good way to establish a name in the industry, which is why the convention's host, Tony Garcia of Midwest City's A Different Image Tattoo Studio, established the event.
"The purpose of a tattoo show from an artists' perspective is to showcase your work, learn from other artists' techniques, expand your customer base and win awards. These things will lend credibility to your career," DeQuasie said. "Tony's purpose is to show tattooing as an art form, and bring a part of this culture to Oklahoma, as well as expand our state's reputation in the tattooing industry."
Alex Webber, part of local car club the Road Killers, who are helping organize the event, said that the link between car enthusiasts and tattoos is generational.
"I don't know why it goes hand-in-hand, but it is like milk and cereal," he said. "Everyone that I know that is interested in working on cars has a tattoo somewhere. It's a tradition thing. My mom was a car builder and she was tattooed. My grandpa was a car builder and he was tattooed."
Webber sees the Metal Fest as an important way to demonstrate the professionalism of the tattoo industry to those wary of letting someone repeatedly jab a needle into their skin.
"It's important for people to see we're not just freaks. Everything is hygienically sound. The general public can see the artists in action and see that they are skilled," he said. "It's an open house for people who would otherwise be scared of going into a tattoo shop." "Charles Martin