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Ink and Arms Wilmington is excited to announce its new twist on the traditional Tattoo Contest. For the first time in Tattoo Expo history, event producers are raising the stakes by creating a winner takes all tattoo contest called The Big Money Showdown.  Each competing artist will be given 5 hours to complete a tattoo from a category randomly selected prior to the expo.  All participating artist are responsible for a contest buy in and will tattoo in the same style. Tattoos will be judged by a panel of 5 and judged on (but not limited to) Best Overall Appearance, Category Representation, Originality, Line Work, Coloring/Shading, Flow/Movement and Body Placement.  There are only 100 spots available in the contest.  Artists will battle it out for a cash prize that could be up to $10,000. 


Big Money Showdown rules and regulations:

The Big Money Showdown is a winner takes all tattoo contests.

  • The Showdown will be capped at 100 (one hundred) total artists.

  • All showdown contestants must be a participating artist of the {host} Expo

  • All Showdown contestants are subject to Showdown buy in and related fees

    • Pre Style-Announcement: $100 plus $7.72 Eventbrite fee

    • Post Style-Announcement: $125 plus $9.24 Eventbrite fee

  • Contestants will have 5 hours to complete the tattoo.

  • All Contests will tattoo in the time a lot by the expo.

    • Sunday 9am to 2pm

    • Artist can prep client / stencil the evening before

    • No stencils may be applied, or canvas marketed until 9am on Sunday at the start of the contest.

  • All artists will tattoo the randomly selected style.  The style will be drawn 2 weeks prior to the event.

    • Categories:

      • America Tradition

      • Neo Traditional

      • Black and Grey (Non-portrait)

      • Pop Art

      • Color Portrait

      • New School

      • Hyper Realism

      • Surrealism

      • Japanese

  • Once bought in there is no cancellation or refund on showdown buys in.

  • Having a comped space eliminates contestant from the showdown.

  • All previous tattoo television show winners and alumni will not be allowed to participate but will be considered for judging.


Judging is based on (but not limited to):

  • Judging will be done by a panel of at least 5 Judges.

  • All Judging will be done anonymously. Canvases must keep the name of their artist undisclosed.  

  • All Judges will be provided a score sheet with comment sections.

    • All tattoos will be judged on a 1 – 10 scale with 10 being the highest score.

  • Tattoos will be judged on (but not limited to):

    • Best Overall Appearance

    • Categories Representation

    • Originality

    • Linework

    • Coloring / Shading

    • Flow / Movement

    • Body Placement

  • In the event of a tie, the tying tattoos will be brought up and re-judged.

Tattoo Categories:

American Traditional

Sometimes called “old school”, this style of tattoo art is the oldest and most well-known Western form. It follows a strict set of design rules that make it easy to spot, such as a limited but bold color palette, thick black outlines, immaculate precision and two-dimensional, crisp images. The development of traditional tattooing is often credited to the legendary Sailor Jerry (real name Norman Collins), who learned from Japanese artists and introduced his own American viewpoint to the artform. Common themes are nautical symbols, hearts, eagles, daggers and roses. This is the style proudly worn by the original counterculture rebels.   


Neo Traditional

As the name suggests, Neo Traditional tattoos are a modern take on the original old-school style. Considering that the latter became popular around the 1950s onward, it seems only natural that modern artists, armed with new tattooing techniques and fresh perspectives, would put their own spin on the genre. Neo traditional artwork stays true in many ways to its predecessor, featuring bold black lines and the classic color palette. However, designs also often feature three-dimensional images, white ink and sometimes a departure from the traditional subject matter.

Black and Grey

Black-and-gray (also black-and-grey, black and grey/gray) is a style of tattooing that uses only black ink in varying shades and typically uses a single needle. This tattooing style is thought to have originated from prisons in the 1970s and 1980s and was later popularized in tattoo parlors.

Pop Art

A pop art tattoo will stunningly amplify your sense of masculine amazement. ... The special potential of pop art ink is unparalleled in its limitlessness. Any mainstream icon can be transformed into glorious body art, and an original eye for style is all it takes to pull off an amazing visual feat.

Color Portrait

From portrait tattoos of mom and dad, your childhood pet, or even your favorite celebrity; it's a portrait tattoo as long as it's done as realistically as possible. Traditionally, portrait tattoos come in black and grey ink, which gives the tattoo a tremendous sense of realism that helps to stand the test of time

New School

If old school is the regal grandfather of tattoos, then new school is the rebellious wild teenager. Depending on who you ask, this modern tattooing style started up in the 1970s, ‘80s and/or ‘90s. Though heavy outlining is borrowed from the older traditional tattooing, new school constitutes a huge departure from its roots. New-school tattooist employ vibrant, in-your-face colors and are not limited to the themes of traditional genres; subjects are often drawn in a cartoon or graffiti style, with exaggerated proportions and playful design. This style also saw tattoo artists become more open to sharing their techniques with one another to promote progression in the art form.


Some tattoo artists specialize in making their work jump to life on the skin, creating tattoos with photographic detail and astonishing technique. Realistic tattoos are meant to look as convincing as possible, often featuring natural landscapes, animals or portraits. Unlike the new-school style, realism focuses primarily on transferring a real image onto the skin as accurately as possible, and is less concerned with novelty in the design. The most difficult form of realism in tattooing is probably portraiture, because it requires the artist to capture both the likeness and character of a real person. Realistic tattoos can be created using color, or in black and grey form.


Surrealism refers to s the fine art of twisting the reality into a dreamlike substitution that your eyes will find hard to believe. It is the art where reality is modified to resemble that which is scarier and more nightmarish.


Irezumi is the Japanese word for tattoo, and Japanese tattooing has had its own distinct style created over centuries. Irezumi is done by hand, using wooden handles and metal needles attached via silk thread. This method also requires special ink called nara ink. It is a painful and time consuming process, done by a limited number of specialists. The tattoo artist is called a Brother, and usually has one or more apprentices working for him for a long period of time. They often become a part of the horishis tattoo family. Irezumi was initially associated with firemen, who wore them as a form of spiritual protection. They were admired figures of bravery and roguish sex-appeal, which inspired imitation

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