In just a few short weeks, tattoo enthusiasts from across the region will gather at Wheeling Island Casino for the third annual Resurrection Island Tattoo Convention. We caught up with Dennis Gilbert, the convention’s founder, to tell us more about this unique event and what his team has in store for this year’s convention.
It all began in 2019 when Dennis was asked if he would consider organizing a tattoo convention at the Wheeling Island Hote-Casino-Racetrack. As the owner of one of the largest tattoo shops in the Ohio Valley—Breaking Skin Tattoo and Body Piercing in Bridgeport, OH—it made sense that his shop was considered to bring tattoo artists and enthusiasts together for this unique opportunity. “When we were approached, we jumped on the idea with no hesitation and ran with it. Our team at Breaking Skin Tattoo and Body Piercing have all had a love for the industry from a young age, so we wanted to help put a spotlight on the tattoo industry in the Ohio Valley.” The convention is now in its third year and continues to grow in popularity.
Welcome to Resurrection Island
So, what exactly can you expect at this year’s convention? In addition to over 150 tattoo artists spread across four showrooms, you can also explore oddities vendors, listen to live music, and even catch a burlesque performance! For those who want to show off their ink, there are daily tattoo competitions that anyone can enter. There are several categories one can sign up for, including “best portrait”, “best cover-up,” and even “best Friday the 13th tattoo”. With more than $15,000 in cash and prizes, there’s sure to be a competitive lineup of artwork on display.
Dennis Gilbert, owner of Breaking Skin Tattoos & Body Piercing and founder of the Resurrection Island Tattoo Convention.
Several winners of the tattoo contest posing with their awards.
While there will be plenty of tattoos to admire during the three-day event, another big draw is that you can get tattooed at the convention! Dennis and his team sift through hundreds of applications to find only the best, award-winning tattoo artists to attend the convention. Many of these artists will take walk-up appointments, while some will allow you to schedule ahead of time. A list of participating artists can be found here on the event’s website.
Dennis is excited for all of this year’s artists, but there are a few standouts that he’s particularly eager for attendees to see. “We have Ink Master: Angels star Joe Capone back again this year, who specializes in black and grey realism and specifically portraits.” Attendees will have a chance to win a full-day session with Joe on Oct. 15 thanks to support from the Wheeling Island Casino. “We also have Amanda Graves, the queen of glitter realism tattoos, who has roughly 2 million followers on social media.”
Breaking Skin and Stigmas
While tattoos are now seen as an art form and a way for people to express themselves, there remains a lingering stigma about the types of people who might go to an event like the Resurrection Tattoo Convention. Through this event, Dennis and his team hope to smash this stereotype.
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“We may look intimidating at times, but I can promise you that the artists and other people we bring in from across the country to create this massive 3-day event are some of the most genuine and down-to-earth people you will ever meet,” said Lexie Lopez, event coordinator. “Our goal through this convention is to bring open-minded individuals together to express their creativity and individuality, whether it’s giving or receiving tattoos or just stepping their foot in the door for the first time to see what the tattoo community is really like.”
The goal is for attendees to get a better understanding of the tattoo industry, and how vast and versatile it has become. “Most importantly, we hope that people will see the positive impact that we are making on the community and how genuine the people in it are.”
You may also be wondering – how safe is it to get a tattoo at a convention? Dennis and his team take great pride in the level of safety and cleanliness of this event. “All of the artists who attend our show are extremely professional and keep the highest standards when it comes to health and safety,” said Dennis. “Additionally, all booths also receive a thorough inspection through the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department before they are even allowed to start tattooing.”
If you are a first-timer to the convention and want to get a tattoo, Dennis shared some of his tips to maximize your experience. “Get some rest, eat a good meal, and don’t consume alcohol or caffeine before getting tattooed.” All of these factors will impact your experience. He continues, “Don’t price shop, skill shop. If you have a specific style in mind, seek out an artist who is known for that style of work. And above all else, remember that you get what you pay for in this industry. Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good.”
If one thing is certain, it’s that the Resurrection Island Tattoo Convention is more than just ink; it’s a celebration of creativity, individuality, and expression. Experience it for yourself Oct. 13-15 at the Wheeling Island Casino. Tickets are $20 for a daily pass and $50 for the full 3-day experience. All tickets must be purchased online. Learn more at resurrectionislandtattoo.com.
Dennis wishes to thank the Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack, his team at Breaking Skin Tattoo & Body Piercing, Lexie Lopez, Rhonda Gilbert, Mary Hess, Renee Mercer, and event sponsors who have helped make The Resurrection Island Tattoo Convention possible.
Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored post paid for by the Ressurection Island Tattoo Convention.
• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise four cats and four spunky backyard chickens.