Getting a tattoo might be easy, but choosing one can be tricky. Ink artists from Long Island and across the country will show their portfolios and work on clients at the Summer Vibe Tattoo and Arts Festival June 29-July 1 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
Long Island artists working at the festival specialize in a range of styles — and they know the trends.
One of the most common tattoo designs to get these days is a cartoon or movie character.
“People love it,” says Adam Perjatel, 31, of Green Apple Tattoo in Island Park. “It’s become more popular over the past three to four years.”
The resurgence of the “Star Wars” franchise has brought on an influx of galactic tattoo requests.
“People go for the weird-looking creatures,” Perjatel says. “They like Darth Maul, General Grievous and Jango Fett. It’s so much fun, but it’s very challenging, because the color matching involves a lot of research.”
Courtney Raimondi, 27, works at Undead Ink NY in Oceanside, specializing in doing what she calls “tattoons” featuring characters from “Sailor Moon,” “The Powerpuff Girls,” Pokémon and Disney movies.
“People are very connected to nostalgia and things they grew up with,” Raimondi says. “It’s important to make sure it’s done clean and correct to the character. You don’t want it to look like the bootleg dollar-store version.”
Those who have a tattoo that needs new life come to Tommy Helm, owner of Empire State Studio in Amityville. With 22 years of experience, Helm, who has appeared on “Tattoo Nightmares” and “Ink Master,” helps those in distress.
“Sometimes people want to cover a tattoo because aesthetically it’s not right or it’s emotionally tangling for them,” says Helm, 44. “Most tattoo artists don’t want to do cover-ups because it’s way more work than a brand-new tattoo. But if someone needs a cover-up, I’ll be there for them and do what I can to help out.”
This is a style of bright colors, bold calligraphic lines, heavy blacks and warped perspective.
“It’s fun and interesting to look at. The style really pops on people’s skin,” says Jared Stomber, 37, who works at Empire State Studio in Amityville. A popular New School tattoo motif is skulls.
“It’s a classic image people have been getting for decades,” Stomber says. “Skulls can be fun or evil. They can fit any criteria you are looking for.”
Some artists specialize in duplicating a real object or photo in tattoo form.
“It takes a lot longer than a traditional tattoo,” says "Big" Joel MacDonald, 38, owner of Notorious Tattoo Company in Centereach. “When you lay it down you have to make a stencil, which is like a road map telling you where to place shadows and shapes. You have to go over it very methodically with a fine-tooth comb and be very diligent about following the picture.”
Mike Carro, 33, owner of Undead Ink NY, specializes in black-and-gray realism because he feels it’s real and tangible.
“Black and gray is something everyone can get behind and enjoy. People instantly recognize it. Plus, it has more longevity,” says Carro. “You have to put the right amount of contrast with shading. It’s a very popular style on Long Island.”
After 16 years of tattooing, Po Zhang finally opened his own shop, World Famous Tattoo Art Gallery in West Babylon, this year. “Popo,” as he is affectionately known, has built a reputation for his original custom theme tattoos, which are full scenes created on an arm, leg, back or chest with subjects ranging from religion to “Star Trek.”
“I help people create a story,” says Zhang, 40, who grew up as an oil painter. “I don’t copy anybody’s work. My customers tell me what they want and I create a new design for them. People are tired of the one-piece tattoo. They like to go big.”
SUMMER VIBE TATTOO & ARTS FESTIVAL
WHEN|WHERE 2-11 p.m. Friday, June 29, Noon-11 p.m. Saturday, June 30 and noon-7 p.m. Sunday, July 1 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale
INFO 516-231-4848, unitedinkproductions.com
ADMISSION $24 per day ($59 weekend pass)