With Musink around the corner, a lot of the tattoo world is gearing up to descend upon Costa Mesa for the weekend. For many local tattooers, Musink just provides a solid three days of good times and catching up with old friends. But Franco Vescovi — the head honcho of Lake Forest’s Vatican Studios and Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machines — isn’t just one of the many OC-based tattoo artists who will be inking friends and clients at the convention, he’s also a friend of Travis Barker’s and a large part of the reason the drummer began hosting the festival in the first place.
“I’ve known Travis [Barker] for a long time, and I feel good knowing that there was this pivotal moment when I got to connect Travis with the guys at Musink,” Vescovi says. “Travis had told me for years that he’d love to be a part of a tattoo convention, so when the Musink guys asked me about him, I knew he would be down for sure. Next thing you know, he’s a part of it. I think it’s actually a perfect marriage to have someone involved who’s known for music and being heavily tattooed.”
These days, Vescovi travels all over the world hitting the biggest and best festivals, and while he’s not directly responsible for putting Musink together, he certainly contributes as much wisdom and advice as he can from what he sees. Obviously, the musical side of things are well out of his control, but Vescovi helps make sure the tattoo artists who attend are well equipped for success. One year, the veteran tattooer even helped bring in a masseuse who knew about tattooing to make sure even the busiest artists weren’t going home with sore backs and gnarled hands.
“There are lots of little things we pick up on from other conventions in different parts of the world,” Vescovi says. “When I go to other conventions, I’m always looking at what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. A lot of times, what they’re doing wrong isn’t intentional, but they don’t know how the artists think. Musink is a little more catered to the artists.”
Sure, being a well-run convention is a large part of the reason tattooers from around the world travel to Musink (as is the stellar musical lineup every year), but ultimately, a good tattoo convention is always about having fun. For Vescovi, that enjoyment not only comes from being able to spend the weekend with both the SoCal artists he grew up with and the international friends he’s made over the years, but also the atmosphere that forms from gathering so many world-class artists and amazing bands all in one venue.
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“It’s a very fun, creative environment,” Vescovi says. “It’s literally like right-brain overload. It’s music, art, junk food, and more. It’s just a fun place to let yourself be a kid again whether you’re 18 or 48.”
Of course, after 10 years of growth, a lot of veteran artists know more or less what to expect from Musink every spring. Even if it’s one of the most organized and interesting tattoo conventions, it’s still just one of the hundreds of conventions going on around the world (handfuls of which happen in California alone), and they all follow similar formulas for success. As someone who’s seen the ins and outs of many of those weekend-long tattooing events, Vescovi believes that it’s about time the tattoo world sees a bit of a change going forward, and he believes Musink is in a great position to lead the way into whatever the next frontier may be.
“I think where we’re at with the whole tattoo convention circuit is that there are so many conventions that the artists and the people are dying for something new and refreshing,” Vescovi says. “I don’t think anyone’s delivered that just yet. I’m anxious to see what Musink can evolve into and if they can embrace the next level and deliver it before anyone else. There are literally 15 or 20 conventions going on every weekend around the world, and they’re all the same. Musink stands out because it’s music and tattoos, but I want to see where Musink can transition and evolve into in the future.”