Well, it’s that time of year again for the Visionary Tattoo Arts Festival folks to kick off their annual summer tattoo event for the sixth year in a row at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, NJ. The event takes place Friday, July 24, until Sunday, July 26. I remember being at the very first Visionary Tattoo Arts Festival in Asbury Park. In fact, my band Sik Twisted Smile actually performed at the very first event at The Wonder Bar, which is right across the street from the historic Convention Hall and a hell of a lot of fun!

I remember thinking how unique it was to have a tattoo convention, technically, right on the beach at the end of the boardwalk. When I asked Visionary’s co-organizer Jon Jon Lane from Triple Diamond Tattoo in Brooklyn, NY, what makes this year’s festival any different from the previous years, he said, “Well, what we try and do is we try to keep it fresh. We try and change up the entertainment. We try and get different artists in. So every year, we try to make it a bit different to keep it exciting to keep it from being boring and mundane.”

Jon Jon co-organizes the three-day event with his partner in crime and Triple Diamond Tattoo co-owner Shannon Moran. Shannon adds that she looks forward to this every year because “this event is your opportunity to get tattooed by talented artists from around the world without having to leave the shore.” As Jon Jon said, this year’s festival will once again be sporting burlesque and sideshow performers, aerialists and live human suspension, with performances by the world-famous Kendra Greaves from Cirque du Soleil, burlesque with Raquel Reed and the escape artist, The Great Vincenzo, just to name a few.

When I asked Jon Jon if he felt that being on the beach sets this convention apart from the other tattoo conventions in the area, he said, “Definitely! What’s great about Visionary Tattoos is the unique historic venue that has a lot of good energy and it’s nothing plastic. It’s a very authentic show and I feel like it’s become a part of Asbury Park historically. And plus it’s right on the beach!”

The three-day event, which is being billed with the tagline “Get tattooed and party on the beach,” will feature more than 150 tattoo artists from around the world with names like Carl Grace from Las Vegas, Danny Lepore from Bullseye Tattoo in Staten Italy, my Jersey tattoo buds Geoff Horn from Hole In The Sky, Christian Masot from Silk City Tattoo, Kristin Bonafide from Artisanal Tattoo, Mick Metal from Revolution Tattoo Company and Ses from Blackwork Tattoo, Nathan Mould from Artisan in Pittsburgh and Ink Master‘s Chris Element of Spike TV, just to name a few. You can get a complete list of artists for this year’s Visionary Tattoo Arts Festival at visionarytattoofest.com and start making your appointments today before these artists get booked up for the weekend. Appointments fill up pretty fast, so don’t sleep on this on, especially if there is an artist you always wanted to get inked by.

One of the highlights of the annual festival seems to be what will be the third annual Miss Asbury Park Pinup Competition. This year, it will be held on Saturday, July 25. The coronation of this year’s best Pinup beauty will be judged by the two previous title-holders, Kitty Crystal and Tina de Vere. It’s just vintage glamor and Asbury eclecticism at its finest in one event! There will also be tattoo contests every day of the festival with prizes awarded for categories like “Best Small to Medium Color Tattoo,” “Best Small to Medium Black and Gray Tattoo,” “Best Visionary Tattoo,” “Best Realistic and Portrait Tattoo,” “Best Traditional and Japanese Tattoo,” “Tattoo of the Day”…you get the idea.

I asked Jon Jon why he and Shannon decided to have the festival in Asbury Park every year as opposed to doing it in, say, Coney Island, which might be closer to their shop, Triple Diamond Tattoo? He says, “It’s because in New York, there’s already a big tattoo convention in New York and Asbury was a great location. It’s a fun time of year to have something like that down there, and we really enjoy the Jersey Shore. I’ve been going up to the Jersey Shore for 15 years now. So, once we found the venue, it was meant to be. Plus, there are like, three or four shows in New York City, and in Asbury Park it’s unique and authentic, and it has a great vibe around it.” Jon Jon also said that he notices that the crowds have been getting bigger every year that they have it, so there will be no slowing them down in the years to come.

Visionary Tattoo Arts Festival is fun for the whole family! It’s not just for tattoo enthusiasts. Art lovers will love this event as well. If you’re interested intending this amazing event, the historic Convention Hall is located at 1300 Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park. The hours for the festival will be Friday from 2 p.m. till midnight, Saturday from noon until midnight and on Sunday from noon until 8 p.m. Tickets will be available at the event for $20 per day and $40 for weekend passes with free admission for children under 12. There will also be after party events for those of you looking to party with your favorite artist, but you’ll have to visit visionarytattoofest.com for all of that information. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this three-day event!

Well, I’m off to check out my next tattoo spot! Who knows what state it will be in! If you have a tattoo shop that you want to suggest, please e-mail me the name of the place and whom I should ask for at tim@theaquarian.com.

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