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On October 30th through November 1st, Black Claw presented the 11th annual Bay Area Convention Of The Tattoo Arts at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt Regency Hotel. The convention hosted tattoo artists from around the globe who came to this event to bring their unique styles; specializing in: American traditional, black and grey, color, Asian and Japanese, portraits, tribal, geometric, lettering, and more. Some of these tattoos were designed with modern machines, while some used ancient techniques and used a “tap” method with wooden sticks and mallets which used natural dye instead of ink.

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There was a two day exclusive lettering seminar with graffiti legend, Chaz Bojorquez and expert tattoo artist, BJ Betts. In addition, quite a few books were released during the event, which attracted both tattoo enthusiasts and art lovers. A short film documentary, “Jun Matsui” presented by Sang Bleu was featured in a separate room. The film, named after a Brazilian tattooist, documents his legacy as a tattoo artist and how he influenced Brazil’s underground subcultures.

Old school tattoo legends that have made a mark in the tattoo industry made an appearance as well; such as: Don Ed Hardy, Good Time Charlie, Junii and Bill Salmon from Diamond Club Tattoo… just to give you an idea. Other featured artists and companies who attended were: Anderson Luna, Bishop Rotary, Chuco Moreno, Chuey Quintanar, Franco Vescovi, Greg Mayorga, Grime, Horichuy, Ink Sav, Jen Lee, Lucky Tattoo Supply, Megan Wilson, Mike Foley, Samoan Mike, Tattoo Life Magazine, Tim Hendrix, Valerie Vargas, and many, many more.

Sunday was the last day of the convention. Roughly, by 9PM, most of the artists and vendors had called it a night. The enormous sized ballroom that previously hosted hundreds (to say the least) of people throughout the day was practically empty. Cleaning crews were scattered, as they began to vacuum floors and take apart what seemed like hundreds of tables and booths. Two small groups remained: a tattoo artist who worked overtime to beautifully master a detailed portrait on a client’s arm; and a small group of tattoo artists who helped make the event happen along with a few attendees who were determined to stay until the end.

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Next thing you know, Chaz Bojorquez returned to the ballroom and an excitement started to build. Word started to spread that he had agreed to do his very first tattoo ever. Highly respected for his lettering, he sat down and began to sketch what would soon be his first tattoo. His “client” was his seminar partner, BJ Betts who also offered advice and assistance throughout the process.

Guided and mentored by tattoo artist, Taki, Chaz put on a pair of black gloves and listened carefully. He was a bit nervous, but very compassionate towards Betts. Most importantly, he was eager to absorb new knowledge and techniques on how to delicately apply some fresh ink into Betts’ skin. Using a coil machine, Chaz began to do the outline of his script on the inner side of Betts’ right knee. After the outline, Chaz brought up the option of someone else filling in the tattoo. No one entertained that option. “No, no! You’re gonna have to finish it!” Betts insisted with a smile. Chaz and the surrounding people laughed it off as he continued to fill in the letters with ink and short meticulous strokes. A small crowd gathered around Chaz and Betts with anticipation, as Taki carefully observed over Chaz’s shoulder until the session finished.

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Approximately one hour later, Chaz had completed his first tattoo. The crowd congratulated him as he removed his gloves with a look of achievement. The surrounding people felt extremely honored to have shared this special moment with a true Los Angeles OG. We had all witnessed something we will never forget and will be forever grateful for. History was made. You can see the sketches Chaz made below, but if you want to see the tattoo itself, you'll need to ask BJ Betts in person...

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