CINCINNATI — For Vincent Dibiaso and his wife Amanda, tattooing is a family affair. They spend their days creating artwork and experiences with people that will last forever.
Vincent is an artist and Amanda is the shop manager at the Hive Tattoo Collective. They are both co-owners of the new location in West Chester Township.
“I do everything but tribal,” Vincent said. “That s*** should’ve died in the 90s”
Not too long ago tattooing was taboo but over the past few decades, it’s become a massive global industry. And over the past few years, the growth has skyrocketed despite the pandemic.
“The isolation just kind of made (people) really want to express themselves,” Vincent said. “I think it just supercharged everybody’s creative side.”
Vincent added that during the two months at the start of COVID-19 when shops were forced to close, he had people messaging him non-stop for work. And the rush still hasn’t let up.
“Ever since, my books have been completely full,” he said. “We don’t have our slow season during wintertime like we normally do.”
In hopes of growing their business and becoming even more visible in the industry, Vincent and Amanda made a last-minute decision to attend last weekend’s Tattoo Convention at the Duke Energy Convention Center. It’s a decision that paid off because even before the doors opened, most of Vincent’s weekend was already booked up.
He was just one of the more than 300 tattoo artists from around the world that descended on downtown Cincinnati for three days of non-stop tattooing.
One of the convention’s main attractions was a world-famous artist that goes by the name of “Penny Boy.”
“If you are a tattoo artist, people think you are a rockstar, especially when you travel,” he said.
Penny Boy grew up in Milan, Italy. He’s been tattooing for 15 years, and for about a decade, he’s been traveling the world, bringing his artwork everywhere he goes.
“I am just losing myself in what I am doing,” he said.
Last weekend was Penny Boy’s first time in The Queen City, yet his DM’s were flooded with requests from Cincinnatians eager to get the chance to experience his unique take on traditional style tattooing.
“In Cincinnati, I got a lot of requests. Like crazy requests. Everybody was into my style,” he said. “They don’t mind what the price is.”
Penny Boy said that while Cincinnati was especially good to him, the tattoo craze is an international phenomenon. Since the COVID-19 travel lockdowns ended, in every single country he’s visited there’s been a surge of people wanting tattoos like he’s never seen before.
“Honestly I knew this was going to happen,” he said. “Every time you close someone in a cage, admittedly when you open that cage they just start to run. They just start to be happy and run away.”
Tay Donahue and Zach Buckwald, agree. They both traveled all the way from the Cleveland area to get work done at the convention.
“It is kind of an itch. I feel like during lockdown you have nothing to do. So everything you watch you just get more ideas,” Tay said.
She always loved tattoos but she said that after quarantine she just went for it. Right now she’s got one arm completely covered in art and is slowly working on the rest of her body.
Zach just finished up half a decade of service in the Marines. He was serving when COVID-19 hit and said that a lot of the downtime he had with his friends when they weren’t on duty was spent sharing ideas. And it’s exciting because now they are able to turn those ideas into reality.
“It’s like dude, let’s go out and do this. We’ve had this planned out, we have the funds let’s go do it,” he said. “It hurt the industry when it first happened because no one could do anything, but it’s making up for it now.”
There are countless reasons why people decide to get tattoos. The artwork has been around for millions of years and it’s pretty clear that it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
“It’s just f****** cool. Tattoos make you feel good,” Penny Boy said. It helps people accept themselves if they didn’t before and it gives people power and confidence, he added.
“Most jobs are pretty cool with it these days and that’s a beautiful thing. It is less demonized and people are more open about it,’ said Vincent. “I think it’s the younger generation getting into the more upper management jobs and they have less of a stigma attached to them about it.”
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