TLDR? The Medellín Tattoo Expo is an annual event where artists come together to showcase their work and give amazing tattoos.
Tattoo culture has grown rapidly in Medellin, and nothing is more symbolic of that than the Medellin Tattoo Expo (Expotatuaje Medellin).
Established in 2010, this creative and cultural exhibition has grown each year, bringing in around seven thousand visitors. The organizers write the goal of the event is to promote the art of tattooing to the public and recognize both local and international talent.
During the three-day expo, attendees can enjoy live tattooing, tattoo competitions and awards, music performances, art installations, merchandise stalls, and even the opportunity to get a spontaneous tattoo themselves.
So, what do you say? Are you ready to check it out? Here’s everything you need to know about this incredible event!
Tickets and Getting to the Medellín Tattoo Expo
The expo is held each year at the Plaza Mayor, the city’s main convention center. This giant exhibition center has five different pavilions, each named for different colors.
Expotatuaje Medellin is held at the Yellow Pavilion, but make sure to double-check the Plaza Mayor website beforehand.
If you’re planning on driving, the plaza has generous amount of parking options available. Otherwise, you can easily use public transportation to get to the event.
Once you arrive, you can purchase tickets at the entrance to the pavilion. In 2022, entry cost 30,000 COP (about $7 USD), but prices change every year.
Just remember, once you enter the pavilion, you won’t be able to leave again. Make sure you have everything with you so you don’t have to pay for two tickets to get in!
About the Tattoo Artists at the Expo
Expotatuaje Medellin brings in talented artists from all over Central and South America, the United States, and Canada.
When you walk in you’re greeted by rows and rows of booths filled with artists doing what they do best— tattooing. There are tattooers who specialize in almost every style and technique you can think of, with blackwork and realism being the most popular among Colombian artists.
Most of the clients getting tattooed at the expo make appointments with their artists beforehand.
However, for attendees who might want some last-minute ink, there is hope. One Mexican tattoo artist I spoke to said that it is easier to get a tattoo from one of the international artists who don’t already have clients in the city.
Performances, Displays, and Awards at the Expo
Alongside the tattoo artistry at the exhibition is musical and visual art. Walking around the hall you’ll find interactive art installations, painting exhibitions, and live painting.
One of the coolest art pieces at the exhibit is a collaborative graffiti piece created by six different master artists throughout the three days of the expo. Throughout the weekend local and international musicians and DJs from different genres perform at the hall.
Even if you’re not familiar with the musicians, it’s always interesting to experience new music. I recommend attending at least one or more of the performances. If dance is more your thing, you’re still in luck—all three days of the event host dance shows, and even a break-dance battle.
On top of the art, the expo isn’t just for the public to appreciate the work of the artists, but for the artists to get some recognition from their community. A little healthy competition is fun for professionals in any field.
At Expotatuaje, the tattooers get the chance to compete for best work awards in 14 different categories. They even crown a Miss and Mr. Tattoo! These competitions also give attendees the chance to see the most outstanding work the event has to offer.
Buying Food and Merchandise at Expotatuaje Medellín
For attendees planning on staying at the plaza all day, they have convenient food stalls inside and outside of the hall.
Food fair you can find at the expo includes street food such as:
More healthy-food conscious people might want to eat beforehand (I recommend Smash Café!).
Another thing to note is that tattoos aren’t the only thing you can buy at Expotatuaje. Several vendors sell clothing, anime figures, shoes, and sunglasses. While I resisted the urge to get a tattoo, I did walk away with two pairs of extremely stylish sunglasses.
If you’re in the tattoo industry you can also find tattooing equipment and accessories as well as piercing equipment. If you think you might want to buy something I recommend bringing cash, as some vendors don’t accept card payments.
Medellin Tattoo Expo Tips
If you’re going to spend a day strolling around the Medellín tattoo expo, there are a few things to keep in mind: