When the calendar rolls through February and toward March, many of the top tattooers in the world begin to pack their bags to fly into John Wayne Airport (or LAX or Long Beach; it really depends on where they’re staying). They’re getting ready for Musink, happening March 4-6 at the OC Fair and Event Center with its grand carnivale of tattoo artists, classic cars, and musicians of all genres. As always, some of SoCal’s best tattoo artists (such as Franco Vescovi of Lake Forest’s Vatican Studios) will helm Musink’s tattooing side of things. But when it comes to the musical half and making Musink stand out all the other tattoo conventions in Southern California, that’s all Travis Barker’s deal.
“Every year, I focus on how can we make Musink better than it was the year before, and better than it’s ever been,” he says. “I spend a lot of time curating the coolest cars for the Low ‘n’ Slow Car Show, the right music, and the best tattoo artists possible for each year. I try to make it something I would want to go to as a fan.”
And that’s exactly what the famous drummer has done. This year, Deftones and Yelawolf are two of his top choices, and the Barker says Snoop Dogg—a long-time dream of his—is confirmed for this year’s lineup. But this year, Musink is doing something many fans have asked for in the past: visitors can finally purchase tickets to the tattoo portion of the event and the concert hall separately. While the majority of the attendees will probably check out their favorite OC shops like Costa Mesa’s Gold Rush Tattoo and Good Time Charlie’s Tattooland in Anaheim and watch bands such as Taking Back Sunday and Circa Survive, it’ll give people the opportunity to save some money if they’re only interested in one of those things.
“I think it’s perfect if you want to knock out a back piece or something else big over the three days because someone is coming in from out of town just for the convention and that’s your only chance to get it done,” Barker says. “I think there’ll be just as many people who want to just get tattooed or see the tattoo artists as there will be who just want to see the music.”
It takes a special level of dedication to handle the pain of having the same area tattooed three days in a row for big pieces, but Musink will have you covered even if you just want a little bit of ink or three tats from three different people. There’ll be hundreds of artists to choose from (although you should check availability ahead of time if you have someone specific in mind), including some of Barker’s favorites, such as Corey Miller (Kat Von D’s co-star on LA Ink and owner of Six Feet Under in Upland), Orange’s John Caleb (Chapter X Tattoo), and legendary Michigan/LA tattooer Bob Tyrrell.
“It’s such a great lineup of tattoo artists this year,” Barker says. “There are so many guys who I want to see and would want to get tattooed by, and there are guys like Franco Vescovi who have done a lot of my tattoos. I think this is the best group of artists we’ve ever had.”