This weekend, the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa will be taken over by three of Travis Barker's favorite things: classic cars, punk rock, and tattoos. It'll be the 8th annual MusInk festival, and possibly the biggest tattoo convention to ever take place in OC.
These days, the festival brings in hundreds of the top tattoo artists from all over the world (as well as bands such as Rancid, Sick Of It All, Bad Religion, and Blink-182), but it wasn't always like that. When renowned tattoo artists Franco Vescovi and Chuey Quintanar sought Barker's help for the musical side of the event, it seemed impossible that the convention would grow to this size.
"Franco and Chuey asked me about it, and I didn't even have to think about it much. It's all about tattoos, music and cars. It's a festival of everything I enjoy," Barker says. "This year, the musical acts are a little bigger. Rancid hasn't played a show since they put out their new album. Sick Of It All is one of the most legendary hardcore bands of all time. All the bands are big names in all their genres, and it's really dope to have them all here together."
Aside from the top-notch musical side of MusInk, the level of tattooing that will be present in Costa Mesa will rival any other tattoo-based event in the country.
"We're going to have over 100 of the best tattoo artists in the country under one roof. That's rare, not just for out here, but for anywhere," Barker says. "I'm a fan of artists up in San Francisco and the East Coast, and so many other places. If you're a fan of an artist from anywhere else, this is a chance to get tattooed by them."
Ultimately, Barker believes that MusInk provides an opportunity that shouldn't be taken for granted by anyone who's interested in tattoos, whether they're in OC or not.
"Do your homework and look at the amazing tattoo artists we have this year. It's rare to have all of this talent, and we have all these artists all while seeing Blink, Rancid, Sick Of It All, Yelawolf, Bad Religion, and other awesome acts," Barker says. "We want to outdo ourselves every year. We only do it once a year, and we want people to look forward to it every year."
What's your favorite thing about getting tattooed?
I like the whole process. I like to be able to sit and catch up with my friends like Franco and Chuey, or to sit and just talk with guys like Mister Cartoon and Mark Mahoney.
How has tattooing changed since you started getting tattooed?
Everyone just keeps getting better and better. The lettering is crazier, the art is better. Everything about them is better. It used to be dangerous to get tattooed on your hands and face, but now it's not as much. It's a lot like when I was skateboarding as a kid. It wasn't something a lot of people did, but now it's everywhere.
What would be your best advice to someone getting their first tattoo?
Get something you absolutely love. I don't have anything I would get removed. Don't get something momentary, make sure it has longevity. Stick with family or something that's forever that won't mature weird. Be like "I got this one for my pops," don't get things for people who can come in and out of your life. Tattoos are like the pages in your own book. They're the history of me, and whatever they meant to me then, they still mean to me now.
How did you get into tattoos?
I've always loved tattoo culture. I was obsessed with it before I was even old enough to get tattooed. When I was 16, I saw a guy in a Super Kmart with a full skull tattoo, and that's when I knew I wanted to be covered in tattoos. I used to hang around shops and jump in the chair whenever I could. I got my hands and neck tattooed because I knew I couldn't get a normal job, and that was awesome. It forced me to do something awesome. I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, but it worked for me.
How have people's perceptions of your tattoos changed in the time you've had them?
People used to ask me what would happen when I was old and tattooed, and I'd tell them that I'd be old and tattooed and awesome. When I first had my tattoos on my neck and head, people would be like "Holy shit!" all the time. It meant that you were a rebel or an outlaw. Now it's way more accepted, you even see cops with tattoos.
What would you tell someone who's on the fence about getting a tattoo?
Go get tattooed. You only live once, you know?
Tickets for MusInk are still available online.