NEPA Tattoo Arts Festival returns

WILKES-BARRE – The second NEPA Tattoo Festival will bring some national ink stars to downtown Wilkes-Barre this month.

Megan Massacre of TLC’s “New York Ink”, Sarah Miller and James Vaughn of Spike TV’s “Ink Masters” and Jon Mesa of Oxygen Network’s “Best Ink” will tattoo and meet fans during the convention from Aug. 22 to Aug. 24 at Genetti Hotel and Convention Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Steve Gulbin, one of the organizers, said the event is a collaboration between local shops 5-7-0 Tattooing Co. and Marc’s Tattooing.

Combining tattooing, entertainment and more, the fest allows locals to see the latest in trends throughout the world.

“We wanted to put something to showcase new, talented artists coming up across the country,” Gulbin said. “When (attendees) see the quality of work, in person, that can be done, it may open their eyes. It’s a beautiful art form.”

The national tattoo artists are proving to be a good draw – Gulbin said he heard from a man who is going to travel from Ecuador to have Megan Massacre tattoo him. There will be several artists on hand for tattoos that weekend, although there’s plenty to do and see for those who aren’t getting one.

“Can’t get tattooed that weekend? Get a piercing, check out some jewelry,” Gulbin said.

Anyone who is rocking a tattoo can enter more than 20 competition categories, from best sleeve, best illustrative new school to most unusual. The winners can secure a trophy for their tattoo artist.

“Anybody can enter and show off what they’ve had done,” Gulbin said.

As tattooing becomes more popular, there’s even more to discover at events like the NEPA Tattoo Festival. After 15 years in the business, Gulbin said he’s still finding new pieces that leave him in awe.

“Every day, I’m blown away by something someone has done,” he said.

The Factory: Underground Stage will showcase live music all weekend with local and out-of-town acts. They’ll also be bringing back the Pin Up contest, which Megan Massacre will judge, and proceeds will benefit Blue Chip Farm Animal Rescue in Dallas.

They’re also offering seminars on tattooing, with Marshall Bennett on “Black and Grey Realism” and Dan Henk with his “Approach to Original Art.”

Artist Brian Murphy also will conduct a painting seminar. Interested parties can find more detailed information at

Gulbin said the seminars will be great for anyone interested in tattooing, even if they’re just starting out.

“If they want to be a professional. If they want to step up their game,” he said.

The Festival will also feature artists collaborating on a series of canvas, and those will be raffled off for charity, Gulbin said.

The event is family-friendly and local clothing company Still Rad will have clothing for sale for children and adults.

The Strange and Unusual, a Kingston oddities shop, will also be among the vendors.

Gulbin said they chose to hold the festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre because there’s plenty for attendees to do when they’re not at the show, be it checking out restaurants, the movie theater or shopping.

“It’s awesome for downtown Wilkes-Barre. There’s so much around,” he said.