By Danny Casler
In 2011 we set out to accomplish something that has never been done before in Hawaii. A tattoo convention. Sounds simple enough. We all have been to one or 10. I remember my first one in Vegas where I met Mario Barth & Mike DeVries and I thought "Man, this is bad ass... everyone tattooing together, the camaraderie, the skill levels being matched, the talent pool and in some areas, the lack there of."
I started picking their brains and asking what they loved and hated about going to and putting on conventions and i logged it in my brain. I spent the next couple of years traveling the world going to conventions and met an amazing dude from Australia who ran Sydney and Melbourne. He guided me through the process of what it took for him to do it and the more I sat back, the more I thought that we (my partners and I) could totally do this.
So, we started our mission. It was brutal and grueling and expensive and all those feelings I had from my first experience was nothing like whatI thought it was going to be. "Throw a tattoo convention, sounds simple enough" Ha! Reality sunk in when we were sitting at capitol hill trying to get things passed to modernize the current state of tattooing in Hawaii. We had NO IDEA WHAT WE WERE DOING. I laugh about it now because I realize that sometimes you just gotta say "fuck it" and move forward. Learn on the fly.
We encountered somany crazy people and so many amazing people at the same time. I felt like i was back in a tour bus traveling the world again yet staying stuck in my seat at the same time. All these politics between artists and factions started to come into play, this guy doesn't like this guy for that reason, this company doesn't want to be next to that company and all the fun really started to get sucked out of the excitement of creating something. Then I remembered what my dad said when I was young "you are going to do great things one day son, and many people will try and pull you down, they will do it from all angles and you must always be diligent and true to your course. No matter what negative energy is introduced, fight back with love and truth and you will always find N on the compass" Kinda cool, but the tattoo industry has some elements in it that don't care for beautiful motivational speeches from fathers to their sons.
I guess ultimately where I am going with this, is that to build something great, you are going to have get torn down a few times before you can realize how to fortify the structure in which you are building on. Our first year, we were building on a structure that wasn't solid in theory but in heart and soul, it could not be topped.
The artists came, the islands supported and we created history. I pause when I say that because I'm incredibly humbled to say that I was a part of history. We make our own history every day in our own lives but on a truly GRAND scale for the tattoo industry we built something that stands for something so much bigger than ourselves.
I am approached almost daily when I am out eating or hanging with friends by people who come up and say "you guys threw the tattoo expo right?" and I reply "yes" and they say "bro, thank you so much. I cannot tell you how much that means to me that someone would fight to elevate our industry in a classy way that showcases tradition and culture. Especially for the Hawaiian people, this is something so special for us and for the artists and collectors who have always been seen as "lower class" in the public eye." I'm truly moved by that. I am moved daily that I have a few hundred more friends that I truly get excited to see every year and to see that we have a close to a 96% return rate of artists this year, it means we did something really right. To know that we sold out 5 months in advance and are already booking 2014 and we increased our booths by 40% this year makes me think, we didn't just do something right, we are blessed man. We have great people by our sides. From our amazing lawyer, to our state senator who fought for the arts, to the artists who buck up to come to hawaii, the hawaiian artists who believed in this, and most important the fans who come out and support the artists by getting tattoos, its just overwhelming.
So how do we follow up to history made? I don't know? I kinda feel like we Evil Keneviled that motherfucker and made the jump and looked back said "WTF were we thinking, but thank god we made it!" I could brag about how amazing our line up is this year because….well, it is! I cannot believe our line up. I could brag about the new entertainment we have this year which is gonna slam and stoke people out because it will. I think I'll just say I'm not sure how following up is even important at this point. Its just continuing to keep the main thing the main thing. Our main thing is creating a tattoo expo that has integrity, culture, friendship, a family element and a level of respect for everyone involved. I think as long as we keep building that, the people will keep coming. We are honored, we are humbled and grateful that we get to do this. So thank you all sincerely for supporting us even if you don't get to come hang out with us year after year. We hope one day you will cause hey, Hawaii isn't that bad of a place to be stuck in for a week.
Aloha Guys! See you at the expo!
For presale tickets: http://www.pacificinkandartexpo.com