Over the weekend, an estimated 4,000 people would have walked through the doors at Bally’s Atlantic City to either get inked up or to check out their favorite tattoo artist.

Some may even have been trying to get their first tattoo.

The 2017 Tattoo Expo featured 120 artists from all over the world — from North Carolina to Italy — and the artists taking part in the expo all have their own memories (and nightmares) from their own first tattoo.

We talked to multiple artists about where they were and how old they had been when they got their first tattoo.


Marc Fairchild of New Bern North Carolina talks about his first tattoo at Tattoo Expo, Bally’s Casino, Atlantic City Friday Nov 3, 2017. (The Press of Atlantic City / Edward Lea Staff Photographer)

Name: Marc Fairchild

Title: Owner of multiple tattoo shops in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, 2017 Tattoo Expo producer

Age when he got his first tattoo: 17

Tattoo: Eagle

“I got it in 1979. I was fresh out of boot camp basic training for the Air Force. I changed my uniform and ran right to the first tattoo shop I could find in San Antonio. I got it because it was cool. When I had it done it took up my whole arm because I was about 130 pounds at the time.”(tncms-asset)a5c25733-4748-5d41-afec-cd8b03ade80c[1](/tncms-asset)

Name: Chelsea Owens

Title: Cosmetic tattoo artist at Marc’s Tattooing in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Age when she got her first tattoo: 18

Tattoo: Pin-up girl(tncms-asset)fb5fdb77-3586-520b-ac4a-3c8df8bc0f1a[2](/tncms-asset)

“I thought it was cool to have a naked chick on my bicep. I wanted a full sleeve and this was a piece of artwork done by an artist who used to do a lot of paintings for Playboy. I love her work. (I love the expo) because it gives us the opportunity to get with artists you aren’t able to usually because of distance or money.”(tncms-asset)b2fe0774-c071-57e4-a708-ab14106e5cf1[3](/tncms-asset)

Name: Amy Jones

Title: Expo attendee

Age when she got her first tattoo: 18

Tattoo: Hello Kitty Kat(tncms-asset)c9219b8c-2fee-542f-a727-bf36b60ab0ff[4](/tncms-asset)

“I had graduated high school. It was originally pink and purple and yellow but I decided to go black and grey. It’s amazing to feel like you can modify yourself to a way you always wanted to look, and I’m scared of needles at the doctors but this was me changing my body for me, so it wasn’t a fear but an excitement.”(tncms-asset)199c2766-2a8b-5832-9764-dc2383c10de8[5](/tncms-asset)

Name: Chris Rae

Title: Tattoo artist at Mr. Blue Sky in Egg Harbor Township

Age when he got his first tattoo: 16

Tattoo: In memorium bird, text (tncms-asset)15a20095-7520-5ef7-a5bf-0a1562129156[6](/tncms-asset)

“I did it 11 years ago, and it was in memory of my grandmother, who had passed away. It was the one idea I had for the first one. It was pretty important to get something a little more meaningful than just picking something, which is kind of what I do now.”(tncms-asset)24173f7d-a329-57da-be36-08591d3140ca[7](/tncms-asset)

Name: Kristen Ryan

Title: Works at a tattoo shop in New Bern, North Carolina

Age when she got her first tattoo: 18

Tattoo: Lion King “Hakuna Matata” symbol(tncms-asset)4cbc271f-7db1-5a85-90e0-b43c58ec0340[8](/tncms-asset)

“This was about four years ago. I knew I wanted a lot of tattoos and had it all planned out, but it was more of waiting and saving money. The first tattoo was pretty huge and my family wasn’t big on it. My mom doesn’t have any, and she was not supportive, but throughout the years my brothers got more, and I felt like it was cool for me to. Now I come home with a new one all the time, and it’s no big deal.”(tncms-asset)e3e02958-ccbe-527d-b605-71bae69bf36e[9](/tncms-asset)

Name: Amanda Fugate

Title: Owner of Ambition Tattoo in Knoxville, Tennessee

Tattoo: Has been covered over(tncms-asset)7102c099-2bcf-515a-b447-a94cad8aff57[10](/tncms-asset)

“The artist wasn’t one to educate anybody, and I definitely regret it, which is why I consult with my clients about first tattoos. I’ll tell them about how it may last over time and how it will hold up. Certain designs on the body may not hold up with something such as weight gain. I make people think about it a little bit more.”(tncms-asset)96da127d-98ea-569f-a116-14b803cd0815[11](/tncms-asset)

Name: Andrew Ferko

Title: Independent artist in Denver, Colorado

Age when he got his first tattoo: 15

Tattoo: Tribal image(tncms-asset)6be41b1b-d665-5101-9f11-1838e3bb08fb[12](/tncms-asset)

“My mom and I walked into the shop, and I asked where it would hurt the most, and he said the arm, so I said that that was exactly where I wanted it. I told my mom she had to sign for me since I was underage, and she ended up getting a tattoo too. She got a rose on her ankle. I think that really tattoos only matter when you don’t have them, and once you have them you think ‘what am I going to do next.’

It’s definitely cool because it’s the first time and you realize it’s not so bad or that scary or dangerous.”

Contact: 609-272-7258, MReil@pressofac.com Twitter @acpressmaxreil

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