The Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival in Austin is one of those rare convention gems that’s enjoyable for both artist and fan, and this year’s festivities were no exception. Absolutely jam packed with hundreds of all star artists, including the Kings Avenue crew from New York, the incredibly talented folks of Spider Murphy’s in Rafael, California, and even Austin’s own Triple Crown Tattoo — this past weekend marked the 15th annual Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival convention, and no matter what your age, there seemed to be a bit of something for everyone.
Whether you’re a fan of neo-traditional, traditional, or fine lined black and grey work, the STTAR convention had one of the most impressive lineups in recent history. Tron, a tattooist working out of East River Tattoo in Brooklyn, believes that while the convention itself tends to be a bit on the quieter side, the main appeal for the artists is that they get to see their friends from all over the United States. “I think this one is just maybe a little more well organized and pickier with who they have working,” says Tron. “Friends come here, and it’s just really good tattooers that have been tattooing for a long time, and I feel like I’m trying to keep up by being here because there’s just so many artists that are amazing, and I’m just like — oh shit.”
She’s not wrong. The level of talent packed into the Palmer Events Center this weekend was unparalleled, and there were dozens of tattoos that could have made an argument for the best of the weekend. Among all of the tremendous work created during the three day event an absolutely stunning, traditional version of Jay Gatsby tattooed by Aaron Hodges stood out. “The painter Rembrandt had this thing where he focused so much on the eyes, because he felt like he had to see into somebody’s soul,” Hodges explains. “I’m kind of a literal person, so I was like, ‘what if you try and take the eyes out, and put in the image of what you would see in their soul into their eyes?’”
Emily Hobbs an eight year attendee at STTAR, who received two tattoos during this year’s convention — one by Dave Wah and another by Tron — says that there’s a reason she keeps coming back. “The variety of artists I feel like is really vast here, and so I get to see things that I maybe wouldn’t necessarily get tattooed, but that I appreciate as art.”
A family friendly event, the convention even hosted a few budding tattoo artists, our favorite of whom was Pavla Ellis, daughter of Triple Crown artist and owner, Scott Ellis. Armed with a sharpie and a few sheets worth of her own original flash, Ellis was offering up Sharpie tattoos for $5-10 a pop, but she says that the best part of “tattooing” is making people happy with her drawings. “I’ve been drawing and tattooing since I was two years old, and it’s really fun for me,” the future tattooist says. “I’m eight now. I get paid, but it’s more important that it’s fun for me.”
So whether you’re eight or 68, the STTAR convention has a little bit of something for everyone. We’ll be on the ground at the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention from February 10th-12th, so be sure to keep an eye out for more convention coverage of the best of the best. Next stop: Philly.