Glynis Board Published

1st annual WV Tattoo Expo kicks off in Morgantown


Tattoo artists and ink-fanatics alike traveled from all over the country to the first ever WV Tattoo Expo in Morgantown Oct. 11-13, 2013.


Credit Glynis Board

Tattoo contests, a Miss Tattooed West Virginia competition, and tattooing seminars were among the featured events at the expo.

“Right now we are in the main event room of the Morgantown Event Center. We have over 150 tattoo artists doing their thing,” says Rocco Cunningham, a tattoo artist from Clarksburg and organizer of the weekend event.

“Right now there’re people everywhere looking at artwork, looking through portfolios, sitting in chairs getting tattooed, waiting to get their tattoos. Everybody’s excited. The atmosphere is outstanding.”

Luna Alba travelled from Northern Virginia when she heard about the expo and is getting tattooed for the 10th time.

“Honestly, I find it pretty therapeutic after a while, because the adrenalin just kind of goes through your whole body. After the first maybe 20 minutes, it’s kind of relaxing,” she says with a wince as the needle starts working.  “It’s pretty painful,” she admits. “It’s on my hip. So, yeah. It’s pretty bad.”

Alba’s tattoo artist is well-known. Rick Cherry. He’s been drawing permanent art on bodies for 43 years.

“I got my first professionally-done tattoo in Washington DC, when I was 14 years old,” Cherry remembers. “I was hooked, I had to do it. I was convinced that I was going to have to learn how to do it.”

Cherry also sells his own hand-made tattooing equipment. He says it’s a dying art, but he’s passionate about machining his own drills.

“In my shop at my house I have milling machines, I have lathes, I have welders. I have to cut out all the metal, braise it together. The coils that operate the machine—I cut the cores for them, I hand wrap the electrical wire, solder everything together. Hand-cut springs. The only thing I don’t make are the screws and the washers. ”

Hundreds of people came out to the event in Morgantown. Men and women, young and old.

“What we really wanted to do was try to represent the tattoo community the best we could and also represent the state of WV the best we could,” Cunningham says. “We have the opportunity to meet a lot of great artists and a lot of great people and to promote the art form. Tattooing is the most ancient form of art in the world.”