LIBERTY -- WES JONES STEADIES THE NEEDLE TIP OF THE BUZZING TATTOO MACHINE AND JABS THE OUTLINE OF A FANGED, MYTHICAL DOG.
LIBERTY -- Wes Jones steadies the needle tip of the buzzing tattoo machine and jabs the outline of a fanged, mythical dog.
Jeff Adams, 41, never flinches, but his face reddens as Jones, also known as Squirrelly, needles white ink into an oriental design on the inside of his beefy bicep.
"You go into the pain and make it your friend for the day," said Adams, of Sharpsville, stretched on a table at the annual Super Bowl of Ink at the Holiday Inn MetroPlex on Saturday.
Admirers stop to watch Jones color a detailed patchwork of oriental designs running from Adams' wrist to his shoulder, a project started in the fall of 2000. He hopes it's done next month.
In the crowded convention center, tattoo machines buzz like drills in a dentist's office. A mishmash of long-haired bikers, well-groomed thirtysomethings and curious teenagers browse stacks of sample body art and pull up sleeves to show off tattoos.
Renaissance of tattooing
Jones helps organize the event, he said, to "educate people" about what he called the renaissance of tattooing.
Jones operates three tattoo shops: Squirrelly's Skin Art in Hubbard, Mansfield and Grove City.
A camera crew from New Jersey prowled the center with plans to pitch a reality show of the tattooers and walking murals.
"Networks are polluted with reality TV shows, but there are none with tattoos -- yet," said freelancer Ed Nash, his arms covered in tattoos.
The proposed show's working title is "Tattoo Zoo," and it is pitched to reveal what tattoo artists are like behind the scenes.
Chico Gonzalez of Campbell was 13 when he got his first tattoo: a tiny cross on his pinkie.
At 45, tattoos stretch from Gonzalez's calves to his shoulders. A heart is tattooed to his chest in memory of his mom, Hartsena.
Gonzalez, also known as Chumpy, said he has "somewhere in the neighborhood of 27" tattoos.
"I love ink," Gonzalez said, puffing on a plastic-tipped cigar.
Also featured at the exhibition are body jewelry, henna tattoos (for those who want something more temporary), leather items, candles, incense and more.
The show, which charges a $10 admission, continues today from noon to 8 p.m. For more information, call (330) 799-3111 or (330) 544-8951.