First Treasure Valley Tattoo Convention focuses on local artists, family fun

Tattooing is gaining a wider audience and greater acceptance. You can celebrate and learn about the phenomenon at the first Treasure Valley Tattoo Convention on Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 21.
Tattooing is gaining a wider audience and greater acceptance. You can celebrate and learn about the phenomenon at the first Treasure Valley Tattoo Convention on Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 21.

If you haven’t noticed, tattoos are everywhere these days. Over the past two decades, the body-art movement has increased its reach. World-class museums such as the New York Historical Society Museum and the Field Museum in Chicago have produced tattoo art exhibits. And people of every profession and age are more inclined to adorn their bodies with art.

“It used to be more of a fringe society element,” says Solomon Hawk Sahlein, one of the artists of Sector Seventeen in Boise. “Now it’s way more mainstream than anyone would have imagined.”

You can learn more at the first Treasure Valley Tattoo Convention, which will happen at CenturyLink Arena in Downtown Boise this weekend. It will have a more family-friendly feel than you might expect, says Devon Love, who co-founded the event with tattoo artist Jon Morse of Devotion Tattoo, the shop hosting the convention.

This is now the first of two large tattoo gatherings in the area. 208 Tattoo Fest, now being produced out of Eugene, Ore., will happen at Expo Idaho, Friday, June 9, to Sunday, June 11.

At the Treasure Valley Tattoo Convention, more than 110 local, regional and national tattoo artists will display their tattooing and other artwork, including painting, drawing and other mediums. And you can get a tattoo at the convention.

Sahlein and the artists of Sector Seventeen will create a mural over the convention’s three days, and you’ll find artwork from Noble Hardesty and Kelly Knopp of Boise’s Swell Artist Collective.

The convention also will have a classic motorcycle display, a tintype-style photo booth and live skateboard demonstrations by teams from Element, Prestige Skateshop and the Boise Skateboard Association.

The goal is to highlight what is unique about Southern Idaho’s tattooing community, Love says.

“We’re on our own little island, and because there’s zero regulation for the industry, we have a lot of artists here,” says Love, whose company, The Woodshed Group, supplies ink and other tools of the trade to 42 tattoo parlors between Ontario and Twin Falls.

Tattoos are a growing part of 21st century American culture. Nearly three in 10 Americans have at least one tattoo, according to a Harris Poll conducted in October 2015. That’s up from about two in 10 four years earlier, according to Harris. The poll also revealed that 71 percent of parents are comfortable with visible tattoos on their child’s primary school teacher or pediatrician.

The art of tattooing is bold, crisp and well-defined. Its mix of colorful characters and symbology explore the human condition — life, death, love, sex — with a dark sense of humor, Shalein says.

“I draw inspiration from tattoos,” Shalein says. “It’s gotten a lot more expansive and diverse. There definitely are different schools of styles. A lot of the tattoo artists also paint, do watercolor, and a lot of graffiti artists get into doing tattooing to make money.”

Shalein has a tattooed left sleeve and is planning on more. People with multiple tattoos are really art collectors, he says.

“Choosing a tattoo artist is like buying a piece of their art,” Sahlein says. “It’s a collection of art that’s permanent.”

Treasure Valley Tattoo Convention

2 to 11 p.m. Friday, May 19, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 20, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, May 21, CenturyLink Arena, 233 S. Capitol Blvd., Boise. $15 per day; $30 weekend pass.

More arts events

▪  Boise’s new music group 208 Ensemble will examine the roots of contemporary classical music by exploring its connection to antique pieces from the canon. “Past is Present” will feature the core of 208 — cellist Jake Saunders, violinist Geoffrey Hill, violist Emily Jones and pianist Betsi Hodges — who will be joined by a litany of musicians from the Boise Philharmonic, Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Boise High Orchestra and Boise State University for a series of solo, duo and full string orchestra performances. 8 p.m. Friday, May 19, Morrison Center Recital Hall, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. $15 general, $7 for students and seniors at BrownPaperTickets and the door.

▪  You can visit all of Boise’s museums and other attractions in one place on International Museum Day, Sunday, May 21, at the Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise. From noon to 4 p.m. the area’s cultural centers — Boise Art Museum, World Center for Birds of Prey, Boise WaterShed Education Center and others — will converge at the garden with exhibits, hands-on activities and demonstrations. It’s all free. Several food trucks will be on hand, too. Find a full list of participants and more information at