Alumni talk needle and ink at Richmond’s annual tattoo festival

Sept. 12 marks the 27th annual Richmond Tattoo, Art and Music Festival. Over three days of seminars, performances and competitions, artists from around the world will share their professional knowhow and celebrate tattoo art. Among them, visitors will find two VCUarts alumni: Jesse Smith (BFA ’04), who co-organized the event, and Sterling Hundley (BFA ’98), associate professor of communication arts, who will present “10 Things That Change Your Art” as part of the Richmond Tattoo and Arts Academy sessions. Smith and Hundley both graduated from the former Communication Arts & Design program.

VCU News spoke to Smith and Hundley to learn more about the festival, taking place this week at Double Tree Midlothian.

“I’m very mindful of the people [who will be] there that are into tattooing, that love tattooing,” said Hundley, who teaches communication arts. “I’m hoping to relate to that and share a different perspective from their trade.”

Smith, who took over the festival with Kenny Brown in 2015, had long wanted to add the academy to its lineup.

“It wasn’t until last year that I felt as though we had a stable enough foundation to jump off of,” Smith said. “Each element that we add to the convention takes a ton of mental energy and planning and I want to make sure that anything we add will maintain the same level of quality that the overall festival does.”

The academy is just one of the additions the pair has implemented since 2015. An entire area of the festival is dedicated to children, with a bouncy house, a caricature artist, a face painter and a lil’ tat shack where the kids can “tattoo” their parents, siblings and friends, and compete in a Kids Tattoo Competition.

Read more at VCU News.