Employer Blue Sky Hours Led to Building Tattoo Conference in St. Louis

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Tattoo The Lou is St. Louis’ is tattoo and arts convention being held in downtown St. Louis, next weekend from Friday, May 18th through to Sunday 20th, 2018.

Tattoo The Lou’s founders, Laura Tromben and LT Woods, joined us on the Bourbon Friday Show, to tell us all about it.

How did the idea for a St. Louis-based Tattoo conference come about?
LT and I are lucky enough in our life to travel around the globe, collecting pieces from some of the best tattooists, not everyone has the ability or lifestyle that can support that. St Louis is home and we feel strongly about giving back to the city that we love and bringing some of the best talent in the world here so St Louisans have the ability to get pieces from tattooers they would normally have to travel to get tattooed by.

Tattoo The Lou is a culmination of LT Woods’ 18 year career in the industry. As an industry entrepreneur, LT traveled and networked with some of the most prestigious tattooers to date and was able to call upon his strong professional network to amass an awesome amount of talent for 3 days jam packed with art and live tattooing.

For those unfamiliar with the Tattoo community, what can you tell them to expect?

It’s not all about tattoos. First and foremost, we wanted Tattoo The Lou to be a celebration of culture. We will be celebrating fine art, dance, graffiti and drag in an atmosphere of diversity, inclusiveness, and respect.

Over the years, how do you think the tattoo industry has changed stylistically, economically, culturally?

With the emergence of tattoo reality television, the industry is becoming more and more mainstream and accepted. It is not uncommon to see people in the corporate workspace with tattoos now. Stylistically there has been monumental change, technology in the industry has allowed artists to create pieces and push the boundaries like never before.

Tattooing, historically has been a very underground industry, tattooers kept trade secrets very close to their vest but now there is so much knowledge sharing and of course traveling and resources for further education that has led to huge advancements in the industry.

People tend to look down their noses at tattooists because of the perceived lowbrow nature of the industry while we are over here making well over the average middle class salary. They don’t actually realize that the Tattoo and body modification is a highly lucrative industry.

Are there any new trends or up and coming talent we should be watching for at the Tattoo the Lou?

There is a TON of emerging talent to watch that we are bringing in from all over the country: Kadee Spangler, Evan Qualls, Shawn Will and St Louis’s own Tom B!

What piece of advice for entrepreneurs regarding large -scale event planning can share?

It is always a bigger project than you think, give yourself a long runway and lots of planning time! People thought we were INSANE for planning out a convention two years in advance but there were many factors we had to take into account.

Such as?

Getting sponsorship money allocated before the budgets were built out for the year.  Most of our artists book appointments a year in advanced so getting on their schedule was important, and lastly we wanted enough time to ensure the event’s success and get inspired from our friends and colleagues.

You mention giving back to St. Louis by hosting the Tattoo The Lou event here. Can you give us a bit more detail?

We feel strongly about giving back to the community where we live and that has supported us so incredibly! We sourced local and surrounding area companies for our print, apparel, design, etc. We will also be doing 3 events over the weekend to benefit local and surrounding area charities.

Our Gift of Graf events will feature famous artists doing live graffiti on canvas then auctioning it off to benefit local charities such as STL Artworks and other charities benefitting St Louisans battling Tramadol, Valium, Klonopin, and alcohol addiction, just to name a few! We built this event with strong philanthropic interests targeted at building up our community.

You (Laura) have a full-time job running recruiting for the development shop 1904labs, and LT is a full-time tattoo artist with a thriving practice, how do you find the time?

We have sacrificed a lot!

But 1904labs gives each employees Innovation Hours, 10% of our work week is set aside for us to work on outside projects, small business ventures and community service.

I use my innovation hours to work on Tattoo The Lou (and my lunch hour!). LT works full time as a tattooist and his days typically start at noon and end at 10 PM so he uses his mornings to work on Tattoo The Lou. Basically we use every spare minute we have to work on what needs to be done for the event and we’ve used our vacation time to work on and promote the convention!

Tattoo the Lou takes place from Friday May 18th through to Sunday May 20th, 2018 in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, at the St. Louis City Center, which is at 400 S 14th Street. St. Louis, MO 63103.
Buy tickets, view and contact the artists and see the full lineup of entertainment and celebrities by visiting www.tattoothelou.com.