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“The Filipinos are tough competitors and highly skilled artists”

The second annual Party in Paradise Tattoo Expo takes place this month in Cebu, the Philippines, and hosts artists from around the globe. Greg Taylor, an American tattooist and the organiser of the event, tells us about the colourful world of body art

Interview by Alison Smith

Inking the deal: at Party in Paradise, Greg Taylor does everything from man the microphone to manage the many musical acts on the bill

Q: Why are people so fascinated by tattoos and why does body art still cause controversy?
A: Tattoos are an expression of a person’s inner self, and a tattoo collector literally wears who they are on their sleeve. There are still many people that believe tattoos are associated with criminals – if they would take the time to look at the quality of art that is now being done by tattooists around the world, they would realise that body art can be a fine art.
Q: You have an award for the Worst Tattoo at the event – what is the worst tattoo you’ve ever seen?
A: There are two things that can make a tattoo a bad tattoo. First is a very bad subject matter. Second is a poor technique when applying the tattoo – combine these two together and you can end up with a terrible tattoo. I have seen portraits that don’t look like the person they are of (some do not even look like a person), large misspelled words and names, and sexually explicit tattoos in places they can’t be hidden.
Q: And what about the best tattoo you have ever seen?
A: It’s hard to pinpoint – there are so many great artists. Some of the best tattoos look like photographs sitting on top of the skin. When a client describes how an artist came up with an amazing design based on a simple description, that’s a great tattoo.
Q: What would be your advice to someone getting their first tattoo?
A: For first-time tattoo collectors I suggest putting time into planning the design. Investigate different artists and different styles of tattooing. Take into consideration how your chosen design will fit your lifestyle – not everyone is a rock star where having a tattoo on the hand or neck is no big deal. Once you have decided on the style and design, then it’s time to shop for an artist. Not all artists are the same and you should see previous work, to check that the style of art fits what you want.
Q: You have many Filipino artists attending the expo, how do they compare with artists from the US?
A: Before the first Party in Paradise Tattoo Expo, many travelling tattooists may have felt that the Filipino artists would be in awe of their work. They found, to their surprise, that the Filipinos are tough competitors and highly skilled artists. The majority of trophies won last year stayed in the Philippines and it looks as though the locals are geared up to keep the competition level very high this year too.
Q: Can you tell us how the Best in Show tattoo is chosen?
A: Judges look at the application of the tattoo, placement and basic design layout, how complicated the design is, how original, and then there is the ‘awe’ factor. Does this tattoo take your breath away? Is it something people will be talking about long after the show has finished? The tattoo that ranks the highest among the judges will take home the coveted trophy.
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