Tattoo collector Tyler Robin lays on a bed while artist Ryan Gagne works on a tattoo on Robin's leg. Lasia Kretzel/News Talk Radio
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Ryan Gagne readies his needle for his first client of the day at the Saskatoon Tattoo Expo.
The Victoria, B.C. tattoo artist was booked solid through the weekend with clients who wanted to get inked specifically by him.
Where some people collect cards, plates and stamps, others collect something more permanent; tattoos.
Dozens of tattoo collectors flocked to the expo at Prairieland Park to get a tattoo from both local and visiting artists.
Collectors often seek out celebrity tattoo artists or an artist who has a particular style. However, while some collectors have a specific tattoo idea in mind, Gagne said for most, it's about the experience rather than the actual tattoo.
"Even if you got the same image, say a rose, not two people are going to do it the same," he said. "That's pretty much what collecting is. You stop caring what the design is, and who is doing it is more important."
Some enthusiasts travel long distances to go under the needle of their preferred artist.
"I had a dude come from Norway to get tattooed by me," Gagne said, adding he's had clients from all over Canada and the United States.
Those trips, and the experiences that come with them, are then immortalized on the collector's skin.
"I've traveled for some tattoos where the tattoo was the least exciting part of the whole trip, but you have that whole thing with it and every time you're thinking of 'oh we did this,'" Gagne said, adding he's always happy to sign stencils if people want to keep the original art.
Tyler Robin traveled to Red Deer in February to get his first tattoo from Gagne at another convention. On Sunday, Robin was at the Saskatoon expo to get a second tattoo from Gagne.
"Once you find an artist that you like, you want to keep getting stuff from them," Robin said. "I don't really care about meaning, it's just what I think looks good in the moment, and I don't think I'll ever regret any of them."
Gagne said social media has played a large roll in connecting artists and collectors. Many artists post samples of their work online on sites like Instagram, allowing people around the world to view their art. Meanwhile, sites like Twitter and Facebook allow collectors to know where the artists are and if they are coming to a convention nearby.
Conventions allow collectors to get multiple tattoos in one places, rather than travel around. Gagne said he and his colleagues did four tattoos for one man from Swift Current this weekend.
“There's actually really no excuse for anybody to have a bad tattoo these days,” Gagne said.