Traveling shows extend showcase opportunities for tattoo artists

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Stephanie “Chilindrina” Simon spends her time expressing herself through tattoos in her Lakewood, Colo., studio and placing her works of art on people’s bodies.

She began her art as a hobby, eventually earned an internship and now expresses herself with tattoos.

“I saw the opportunity for an apprenticeship and took it,” she said from her home.

“Since then it really has become my world completely. The apprenticeship was difficult but once I had established a clientele base things started taking off and it became smoother as a profession to me.”

Stephanie Simon

Tattoo artist Stephanie Simon speaks to potential customers during Star City Tattoo And Arts Expo on March 3rd, 2018. Photo credit: Fandi Zapien

Simon, who is heavily tattooed, was one of 150 tattoo artists at the recent Star City Tattoo And Arts Expo at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center.

Artists nationwide found a place to showcase their work so people from two different nations could be exposed to different techniques and forms of art that can be displayed in their bodies. Artists from Colorado, Texas, Florida, California and many other states have visited this border to share some of the inspiration behind their work.

The expo takes place annually, celebrating and portraying the talent of national tattoo artists and has become a reason to praise this innovative and sometimes called “taboo art.” Artists find their inspiration through other forms of art, people, their lives and experiences.

Simon has been a tattoo artist for a long time, in her booth, she practiced her drawings on paper while she prepared for her scheduled appointments for the day.

Her music is part of her inspiration.

“I listen to all types of music, from metal to electronica; anything with cryptic or poetic lyrics that I can digest and form ideas from. The band Chevelle has been a big source of inspiration for me since I was a teenager, nowadays I pull a lot of inspiration from the band Architects,” Simon said.

With something that began as just a hobby, Simon said her hobby became something stable and became her profession. The job has allowed her to travel and meet new customers in conferences and events just like it happened in Star City Expo but all over the nation.

“My favorite part of my job is the freedom it allows me to travel and get to know people and bond through artwork,” Simon said.

Star City Tattoo And Arts Expo 2018

An artist and a disc jockey prepare for the opening of the Star City Tattoo And Arts Expo at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center on March 3rd, 2018. Photo credit: Fandi Zapien

At the expo, families walked together browsing, looking for an artist to ink something in their bodies. Moms with tattoos and bright-colored hair sit on the chairs while their children wait in a spot or on the floor, strollers and grandparents made the event family-friendly.

Children, teens and adults saw a variety of tattoos, including monochromatic pieces of quotes or small figures, to large pieces composed of a variety of colors and styles, including dragons, women, fantasy pieces and skulls.

Rachel, 20, who did not want to reveal her last name, is from Louisiana traveled to El Paso so she and her husband could get tattooed at the show.

She is open to the idea of letting her baby boy getting tattooed when he turns 18, “absolutely, it’s a form of self-expression so, why not?” she says as she holds her son in her arms.

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