If you’ve been waiting to get inked up by one of the top tattoo artists in the country, the Star City Tattoo and Arts Expo is here to bring them all together under one roof.
Now in its fifth year, the annual showcase will host more than 120 tattoo artists from El Paso and around the country at the El Paso Convention Center on March 20-22.
Artists will not only be giving tattoos, but they will also showcase their talents in daily competitions like Best Traditional, Best Lettering, Best of Show and more.
The expo was created and organized by Michael Alqassimi, owner of Aspired Vision tattoo studio.
For those interested in getting a tattoo, Alqassimi recommends visiting Star City Tattoo and Arts Expo on Instagram to see which artists will be working the convention and book sessions directly with the artists. Many artists who will be entering work in competitions have very limited availability.
The convention will also feature live graffiti art, a burlesque show, piercing and more. Alqassimi said he is also excited that the convention will feature guest MC Joey Germinario, aka Joey Tattoo from Spike TV’s “Tattoo Rescue,” and guest judge Yallzee Quiñones.
“Yallzee is one of the top of the modern-day tattoo collectors,” Alqassimi said. “He’s got tattoos from top artists, some of the best of the old-school guys. He’s been getting tattooed for over 20 years.”
As you can imagine, Yallzee’s body is covered from head to toe, including his head, neck, jawline and even his eyelids. To learn more about Yallzee’s tattoo obsession, El Paso Inc. spoke with him over the phone from California.
Q: How old were you when you got your first tattoo and was it your intention to cover your body from the start?
I was around 22, I got my Yallzee tag on my back. I’m 45 now. It wasn’t my intention when I first started, maybe after I started getting a few more. When I found a good artist back in Puerto Rico (his place of birth), that caught my attention.
Q: What took you from being a casual fan to being a collector and seeking out certain artists to get ink from?
I started researching, going to conventions, meeting artists, going deeper than getting a tattoo. You see there are a lot of styles and even within each style, every artist does it differently, has their own approach and if you like the art, you see the difference.
Some people are into the linework, others are more into composition or form and textures. I appreciate everything. I look for many different artists that each have their own approach.
Q: Back when you first started getting tattooed, in the 1990s, tattoos weren’t as acceptable as they are now. These days you have moms and grandmas with tattoos. Is that good or bad?
I did do it because I like being an outcast or a rebel and I like the mystery, so some of that is lost, but it’s not a bad thing.
It has created a lot of jobs and created opportunities for people. People don’t have to hide their tattoos anymore at their job. I would be crazy not to acknowledge that.
Q: Do you keep track of how many tattoos you have?
I don’t know how many tattoos or how many hours I’ve spent getting tattooed. I have 151 different artists, big and small pieces. Some have done two or three pieces.
Quantity is something I don’t know but I do write down every artist. They all have their special memory, whether it’s to commemorate a moment or collect something when you weren’t expecting. They all have a really strong tie to me and what I want.