After Petersen, a series of others filtered in for their appointments, which lasted around a half hour each; patrons appeared to be in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties, and already sported tattoos. At the same time, a steady stream of fairgoers entered the booth, curious to see what the hype was all about. When they spotted the backroom, they poked their heads in, ogling the customers getting inked; some entered, eager to post a closeup on Snapchat or Instagram.
One customer, Jesse, who had signed up for the Kim Gordon tattoo that evening, had some reservations about getting tattooed amongst the NYABF crowd (she has one tattoo already). But upon seeing the somewhat secluded setup, she relaxed. “I was going to get a tattoo anyway this weekend, and then I saw this in an article and I thought I’d do it,” she says. “I really like Kim Gordon and I actually liked what it was as well,” she says of Gordon’s design, a line drawing resembling a grand piano paired with the letters D and O.
Erica, a young artist who estimates she has some 11 tattoos already, chose the Douglas Gordon tattoo, a dripping bean-like form with the word “ghosts” at its center. She was drawn not only to the design and how it will translate onto skin, but also to the ambience. “I like getting tattoos and part of it is the design, but the other part is the experience. I already have so many sentimental tattoos I thought, ‘Why don’t I do something that’s different?’”
“When I saw this opportunity, I realized that it was something that may never happen again, so I decided to go with it,” she adds. The novelty of the event—it’s an unexpected move by the blue-chip gallery, not to mention a logistical challenge within the context of NYABF—certainly served it well. “Everybody with tattoos likes to talk about when and where and why they got them,” Handler offers. Clearly, this line of thinking inspired dozens to partake. (At the time of writing, a handful of tattoos are still up for grabs
.) In the end, the project’s strongest asset is the novel, limited-edition story that tattoo collectors go home with.