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Local Love: Ink-N-Iron

Every year the Ink-N-Iron Tattoo & Kustom Culture Festival unfolds over 3 days on the iconic Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, and last weekend marked the 9th anniversary of the event. Passersby might think they’ve stepped into a time warp as rockabilly fashion abounds and classic cars fill the parking lot; not only does the festival boast almost 300 of the world’s top tattoo artists, there’s non-stop bands, punk rock karaoke, a custom car show, art shows, and even a pinup contest!

Wheatpaste headed to Ink-N-Iron this year to check out the scene; luckily, despite arriving in a Jetta and stiletto-less, we managed not to turn too many heads from the rest of the crowd dressed to the nines as corsets, pompadours, and leather jackets abounded. The rows of booth shops were jam packed early into the day and vendors dealt in everything from handmade 1950’s-inspired jewelry to a full-scale barber shop to keep visitors looking dapper all day! You could even get a retro makeover plus hairstyle to really get into the vibe before heading into the Dome for the classic car show.

Dragsters and Model T’s glittered in the showroom, and it was hard to fathom the amount of time and energy that was spent rebuilding these cars to surpass even their former glory. Absolutely stunning custom paint jobs and painstaking remodels left even autophytes agape with wonder. After leaving the showroom with eyes goggled from glitter, it was easy to stumble upon one of the bands playing on multiple stages throughout the weekend, and with bands like Face to Face, Misfits, Adolescents, and more, there was definitely something for everyone to get you rockin’.

Aboard the Queen Mary were the 280 tattoo artists from 25 states and 30 countries, each one representing the best of the best in tattoo art today. The booths were spread over 3 floors and once you got inside, it was a cacophony of tattoo guns buzzing and patrons gasping as hundreds of people sat for the needle simultaneously. We’ve already talked about some of our fave San Diego tattoo shops, but some of the other top shops we found were:

Saved Tattoo from Brooklyn, New York (Thomas Hooper – incredible!)

Black Heart Tattoo from San Francisco

Spider Murphy’s Tattoo (Paul Dobleman rocked our faces off)

San Clemente Tattoo

All in all, it was an eye-opening day filled with unusual sights and sounds – a fantastically offbeat way to spend a weekend! We anxiously await heading to Ink-N-Iron again in the future.

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