After almost two decades of tattooing, Monarch Tattoo's Jerrett Spaeth still gleans new tips, tricks and techniques from the conventions he attends.
Spaeth will be among the record 79 tattoo artists displaying their skills at the fifth annual Three Rivers Tattoo Convention planned Sept. 26-28 at the convention center in Kennewick.
He'll also be among the thousands of spectators checking out trends, tools of the trade and, of course, tattoos.
"I'm open to learning anything new," Spaeth said, adding that conventions often provide inspiration for artists like himself.
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Spaeth, who opened Monarch Tattoo in April 2000, helped establish the local tattoo event six years ago with members of the Three Rivers Convention Center. He's watched the event grow in popularity among artists and enthusiasts. Last year's convention attracted 47 artists.
"As a show, it gains momentum if it's done right, put together right and promoted right," Spaeth said.
He credited Heather Breymeyer, the convention center's director of sales, with doing just that.
"We just kind of showed (Breymeyer) the way, and she just took off with it," Spaeth said.
Past conventions have attracted up to 2,500 attendees during the three days. Breymeyer wants to see that number eclipsed this weekend.
"Hopefully, we're going to blow through that this year," she said.
The convention should generate about $18,000 in visitor spending, said Visit Tri-Cities CEO Kris Watkins, adding that the spending figure is based on an estimation that 2,100 people will attend the convention during three days and about 10 percent of them will be out-of-towners.
The growing popularity of the local convention, Spaeth said, is partly because of the atmosphere.
Conventions sometimes get too competitive between artists, he said. Spaeth believes their convention has been more inclusive of families and more appealing to tattoo newbies because it focuses on more than just body art.
"You can only walk around so long looking at tattoos," he said.
This year's attractions include entertainment, food, drinks -- a bacon bloody Mary will be featured -- and, of course, tattooing and piercing contests will take place.
Seattle-area comedic hypnotist Ron Stubbs is performing at 7 p.m. Saturday, while Seattle-based comic-stuntman Matt Baker should be taking the stage at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Other Tri-City tattoo shops lending artists to the convention include Hoops Body Art, 13 Shades and High Caliber Tattoo of Kennewick and Parkway Tattoo in Richland. Other local vendors will be showing their wares, as well.
Tickets are $35 for all three days or $15 for a single-day entry. Children younger than 5 are free.
-- Drew Foster: 509-582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org