Last weekend I attended the Best in the Midwest III convention in Iowa. My partner Dani and apprentice Jere from Dolly Llama Tattoos were there by my side. We had fun, made new friends and made some real pretty tattoos.
The Best in the Midwest Tattoo convention is situated in Council Bluffs, Iowa which is just a short trip up the road from Omaha Nebraska. Ever wonder what’s in Omaha Nebraska? …….. Me neither, but I can tell you that Big Brain Productions is located there: http://www.bigbrainomaha.com. My lovely partner, Dani was fortunate enough to get some time in with the talented Seth Agar who works at Big Brain.
The Big Brain crew was conveniently located across from the Eternal Ink booth, which worked splendid for me, because I’m always in need of ink. I got to talk with Chuke for a bit and ogle over all the tasty colors. Chuke not only mans the Eternal Ink booth, he has a color line named after him full of offbeat pastels nod interesting color combinations. Next time you’re around the Eternal Ink booth, stop in and say “Hi” to Chuke. He’s a pretty cool dude.
There was a tattoo talent explosion at the convention, like Bob Bitner of Catalyst Art Collective who left me breathless with his skull and apple blossom thigh piece. For a visual treat, here is a link to his Instagram: http://instagram-ps.5thvillage.com/u/bobbitnertattoo. In true Shane O’Neil Productions style, there was an all star line up which included; Meghan Hoogland, London Reese, Marshall Bennett, Timmy B, Josh Woods, Joey Hamilton, Liz Cook, Jimmy Litwalk, Nikko Hurato and many more talented masters of the needle. Here’s a link for the full line up which also has pictures up highlighting the event: http://shaneoneillproductions.com.
My apprentice Jere collected a stellar Medusa tattoo from the Green Bay Bully, A.K.A. Justin Harris. (http://instagram.com/greenbaybully) I’m so impressed with this guy’s style. Keep an eye on this newcomer. He’s got skills and so does his buddy, the Glendale Bully, A.K.A. Bobby Johnson. (http://instagram.com/glendalebully ) These guys are a pretty hilarious duo and exceptionally gifted.
The Best in the Midwest delivered a substantial amount of mind blowing tattoos each night with their tattoo of the day contest. It must have been difficult for the judges to pick just one. At the end of the weekend, there was a Best in Show contest which pretty much summed up all of the best tattoos from the entire weekend into one final competition. The winner of the Best in Show was none other than Timmy B. of Tattoo Afterlife in Huntington, NY. He won this gigantic, tool box, work station from SV Tattoo Solutions. I had to wipe the drool from my mouth twice. Once from viewing the masterful work of Timmy B. and again after seeing the impressive work station he won.
The people working for Shane O’ Neil Productions have been on top of everything from promoting each artist, making sure individual artists needs were met and even double checking to make sure everyone had their health department licenses on time for the show. I was impressed with how smoothly everything ran, smooth as butter. They had a great set up in the artists’ lounge where two guys were hard at work all weekend making stencils, copies and release forms for everyone. They had a little tip box which was a great idea and I defiantly think these guys deserved every penny. I kind of feel like a dick, because I had my money in my purse at the booth and forgot to tip these hard working gentlemen. Don’t worry guys, I’ll get you next time!
The Mid American Center was a great place to host the convention. It’s located a mere ten minutes from the Omaha Airport and about five minutes outside of Council Bluffs main downtown area. The hosting hotel for attending artists was the Hilton which was connected to the Horseshoe Casino. I gambled for the first time in my life and had a blast. My Dolly Llama crew got a hot tip that there was a hotel within a little closer proximity than the Hilton, which was cheaper and had a walk way directly to the convention center. So, we stayed at the Country Inn Suites rather than the Hilton. As bitter cold as it was, having the direct walkway into the convention center was priceless in my book.
I enjoyed working at this convention and defiantly plan to attend again next year. If you think there’s nothing cool going on in the Mid West in February, think again. I expect the Best in the Midwest #4 to be even better.