United Ink Summer Vibe - Tattoos In Heat
Rather than making us wait a full year to return to Long Island, NY, for a second helping of United Ink, promoters "Tattoo Lou" and Jackie Rubino decided to scratch our UI itch with the Summer Vibe Convention Expo.

Summer Vibe took place at the original scene of the crime for the United Ink Convention series - The Nassau Coliseum in Hempstead during a scorching weekend in mid-2013.

Major props to Lou and Jackie Rubino for putting Long Island on the convention circuit map. The Island has a thriving ink scene, and boasts more than a few killer shops and artists. So, it stands to reason that the region should have conventions on its home turf.

The show space itself is perfect for convention fare, a wide-open indoor space next to the ice rink that the NHL's New York Islanders used to call home (awaiting the move to Brooklyn's Barclay's Arena for the upcoming season - Ed's note) during hockey season. For the three-day Summer Vibe event, the room was crammed with master slingers, marked and manic collectors, viral vendors, and enough hot and tattooed girls to expedite the global warming process.

In the short time since the United Ink Convention series has taken flight, the Rubino expos have built a reputation for being very important East Coast shows for people that take their ink seriously. Mostly this reputation is built on a strong line-up of tattooers who bring mad talent and validation to the proceedings. The Summer Vibe roster featured such drawing cards as Bobby Moss, Shane O'Neil, Oleg Shepelenko, Jon Mesa, Keith Ciaramello, Lalo Yunda, and Jason Ackerman. Many of the top-tier slingers were spoken for before the curtain even came up on the weekend, yet sessions with high-quality artists appeared to be available if you could stick around and wait for a free block of time.

As with all of the United Ink shows, Jackie Rubino keeps things moving with a full slate of performances, seminars, and ink-related happenings. Freak show madness, suspension shows, live hard rock, pole dancing, and pin-up contests were some of the attractions taking place on stage, while the masters worked ink into skin on the convention floor. Tatted friends and specially inked personalities, such as Crazy Face and Eva Medusa roamed the aisles, stopping to greet fans and take photos over the course of the weekend. Those who take a more academic approach to conventions had a whole slate of highly informative seminars to attend.

Though the Rebel Ink headquarters is in the Garden State, the Rubinos and their staff, as well as the Nassau County locals, always make us feel like we are part of the Long Island family at the United shows. Our unlimited access to the convention allowed us to capture all of the tats and all of the action for our readers. The supersized RI floor booth was packed from the opening bell to closing each day with models, artists, buddies, and tattooed impresarios who wanted to stop by, compare collections, and take some pictures for our mag and web coverage.

Aside from the art on skin, one of the other main attractions of the Summer Vibe show was the appearance of the Inked Angels. The Angels are an ever-growing collection of modern pin-ups, led by superstar alt-model and RI alum Heather Moss. Other Inked Angels included West Coast babes Kayla Vanfleet and Morgan Rene, as well as Buffalo, NY, beauty Angel Dies.

The most serious moments of each day came when the best ink in the house took to the stage in hopes of bringing home a trophy in any of the many categories included in the show's contests. Artists and collectors proudly displayed masterpieces for the judges, who had the task of naming first-, second-, and third-place winners.

The Summer Vibe convention was a tune-up for the official United Ink Expo in the fall. Find out about future shows from the Rubino crew at newyorktattooshow.com.

Photography by Dan Howell

Article by T. K. Whelton

Yekra Player

Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films.

Tattoo Nation

For years people saw tattoos as a sign of rebellion. A middle finger salute to the rest of the world. Outlaw bikers got tattoos. Sailors on leave in Singapore got tattoos. Lifers in the joint got tattoos. But now in the United States one out of every three adults under forty has a tattoo! So what happened? How did tattoo go from something that was put on you to an expression that comes from within you? Tattoo Nation tells the story of a few people who helped transform the world of tattoo, and the way we think about tattoos, forever. This is the true story of the ink revolution.