When you think of Lebanon, the country, what comes to mind? For me, it is typically the food, the Mediterranean Sea, the warmth and openness of the Lebanese people, the nightlife, and much more. What doesn’t immediately come to mind is the art scene and more specifically the artistic tattoo scene. The Lebanon Tattoo Festival is working to change that perception regarding promoting the beauty and artistry of tattooing and creating a space for tattoo artwork to claim its rightful place on the list of what makes Lebanon such an amazing and distinctive place.
Noura Jaroudi is the Managing Director of Lebanon Tattoo Events, the official host of the Lebanon Tattoo Festival. The festival takes place on a yearly basis in Lebanon and is the signature event of the Lebanon Tattoo Events organization. The first tattoo festival took place in 2017, lasted for two days, and was the first such festival of its kind to take place in Lebanon. The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, so a second festival was held in April 2018 garnering significant international attention. A third festival event is in the works and tentatively scheduled for April 2019. So, what is the Lebanon Tattoo Festival that everyone is buzzing about?
Noura described the festival as, “a gathering of talented artists participating to celebrate the art of tattooing. It is a festival because we have, in addition, to live tattooing, DJs, on-stage performances, an art gallery section, drinks, a food court, and amazing vendors showcasing their products. Visitors can enjoy all of that and even get tattooed on the spot since some of the tattoo artists are open for walk-ins. Walking around, you will see amazing designs being created and inked onto people, like animals, weird Russian doll features that symbolise mothers and picturesque scenes. The festival creates a beautiful artistic atmosphere filled with positive vibes and good ink.”
Despite the increasing popularity globally of wearing tattoos, there are still some parts of the world where anything that is perceived to “desecrate” or violate the integrity of the body is looked down upon. I asked Noura if this was the case in Lebanon and she responded that, “Body art dramatically changed in Lebanon in the last few years. It is no longer a taboo thing, but rather it is seen as art.” Getting a tattoo “is something very personal, a choice not to be judged. We have seen such a response from many who have attended the Tattoo Festival, as they finally have an event they can relate to, exchanging their stories, flaunting their art, and getting more art done by the best in the country. Since day one, our main focus and the message behind the launching of the first tattoo festival is that tattoos are a form of ART, breaking the stereotype that “only bad-ass people are tattooed.” Anyone is entitled to carry good art on their skin, and we shall keep portraying tattoos as a beautiful form of ART in Lebanon and creating a fun experience with tattoo artistry at the festival.”
The event sounds like an incredible experience, so I asked Noura about how she identifies tattoo artists for inclusion at the event or if there was any application or requirement artists had to demonstrate to participate in the event. Her response was, “participation at the event is open to tattoo artists with a strong work ethic, good art, and positive energy.” Tattoo artists, if that sounds like you and you are looking for a reason to travel the Lebanon Tattoo Festival is the place for you.
What about those of us who aren’t tattoo artists or who aren’t sure about getting a tattoo? I asked Noura what her best advice was for people considering a tattoo and her answer is great! “The first thing to do is to research the tattoo artist and check out his/her work and most importantly check to see how the work healed. Visit the artist’s shop, communicate with the artist, when you visit the shop, look at the hygiene levels and overall cleanliness. Choosing the right tattoo artist is key.” This is great advice as I have seen a lot of bad ink out there (and overheard people asking about how to get rid of them – googling “laser tattoo removal cost” must be on the rise) and worse seen some “horror stories” of tattoos gone wrong in that they didn’t heal well or properly.
Another thing to consider is how your skin heals. For example, some people are prone to getting keloids which while not necessarily prohibiting you from getting a tattoo can result in complications during the healing process. The best thing to do is to research, ask the right questions of the right people, and not to be in a rush to get the work done.