Liberty Tattoo Classic draws crowd

Joe Stana, who owns Aqua Ink in Canfield, inks Brianna Thomas of Youngstown on Saturday at the Youngstown Tattoo Classic. About 150 local, regional and national tattoo artists attended..

LIBERTY — A single trip with his father when he was 10 years old left an imprint on Josh Helman that was perhaps as permanent as the child’s future occupation.

“My dad took me with him when he got a tattoo, and that was amazing,” Helman of Wooster, said. “In school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.”

Years later, Helman was busily engaged in his artistic occupation, because he was among those who came to the fourth annual Youngstown Tattoo Classic and trade show at the MetroPlex Expo Center in Liberty.

An estimated 150 local, regional and national tattoo artists displayed their talents and artistic flair during the gathering that ran Friday through Sunday.

Helman, who has been a tattoo artist about 14 years, spent part of Saturday afternoon adding another inked impression on Damien Mincy of Wooster, who displayed on his arm the image of a demon woman with an extended arm. Last year, Helman received a best-in-show rating and two Tattoo of the Day awards for the image, he said.

“I’m into nerd anime and video games, and basically anything you made fun of in school,” Helman said in describing a style he said took him several years to cultivate.

Mycala Massacre of Defiance proudly wears several symbolic hats: tattoo artist, model and body piercer. For her work, Massacre found herself on the front cover of the latest edition of “Ink Vision” magazine.

Unlike Helman, Massacre’s career choice was not established early in life. Originally, she attended the University of Findlay to study veterinary medicine and nursing, but, after also spending considerable time at a local tattoo shop, she “fell in love with the people and the energy at the shop,” which changed her life’s trajectory, Massacre said.

In addition, Massacre and her husband, who has been tattooing for more than 30 years, run their own business, she said.

Joe Stana, who owns Canfield-based Aqua Ink, spent part of Saturday adding his artistic flair to Brianna Thomas of Youngstown. Specifically, he inked her arm to add to her collection of tattoos that include a dinosaur, a phoenix, a dragon on her right leg and a medusa on her left leg. In addition, a portrait of a person graces her back, Thomas said.

“He had full rein of my legs,” she said.

Also on hand was Park Woo Jin of Buffalo, New York, whose specialty is a technique called tebori, a traditional Japanese hand-poke style of tattooing.

Jin, who is self-taught and has practiced his style for several years, uses a stick with a series of tiny needles, along with natural hand motion, to create sharply colored tattoos with fine detail. He also has a special machine for the lines and shading, Jin said.

In addition, the show featured a wide array of merchandise for sale that included T-shirts, ball caps, amethyst and pyrite pieces, gemstones, paintings and jewelry.

The three-day Youngstown Tattoo Classic also featured awards for artists, a 1950s-style retro pinup competition for women and an outdoor classic car show, Tobe Drew, who served as host and master of ceremonies, said.

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