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Geeks with Ink

Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo leaves a lasting mark on attendees, but nothing last longer than a tattoo.

Shades of Grey Tattoo offers attendees the chance to make their convention experience permanent by getting a tattoo during the Calgary Expo.

“Geek culture and tattoo culture have a lot of similarities and a lot of crossover,” says Shane Turgeon the co-founder and general manager of the Edmonton Expo.

In an epic crossover event Turgeon is also the owner of Shades of Grey.

However, Turgeon is not a tattoo artist. He is a geek who loves Star Wars and saw the connection between geeks and tattoos after getting his first Star Wars tattoo. He has helped bring tattoo shops to conventions across North America including Edmonton Expo and Star Wars Celebration.

Kayla Marceniuk, right, gets inked at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo at the Stampede Grounds in Calgary on Thursday, April 27, 2017. Marceniuk chose to get a tattoo at the Calgary Expo to memorialize her great grandmother who recently passed away at the age of 110. (Photo by Chelsea Kemp/SAIT)

Kayla Marceniuk, right, gets inked at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo at the Stampede Grounds in Calgary on Thursday, April 27, 2017. Marceniuk chose to get a tattoo at the Calgary Expo to memorialize her great grandmother who recently passed away at the age of 110. (Photo by Chelsea Kemp/SAIT)

Turgeon started the first online archive for geeky tattoos in 1999. What was once a niche culture has grown exponentially as tattoo and geek culture have collided.

“Now everyone is a lot more comfortable wearing their geekdom,” says Turgeon.

Turgeon has seen many geeky tattoos over the years. Star Wars has proven to be a popular choice for many people who get inked.

“I’ve seen a sarlacc pit in somebodies arm pit,” says Turgeon describing some of the stranger tattoos he has seen. The sarlacc pit, featured in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, is a gigantic creature of unimaginable horror comprised of tentacles and sharp needle-like teeth.

“There’s people who literally have their whole body covered in Star Wars tattoos,” says Turgeon who has written two books on the phenomena, The Force in the Flesh Volumes I and II.

Star Wars started the trend of nerdy tattoos and now different fandom universes have emerged as popular tattoo choices say Turgeon.

“People used to be scared to be geeks and to be nerds. It’s amazing how it has changed,” says Turgeon.

The tattoo booth fills up early, so Turgeon recommends booking a tattoo at Calgary Expo as early as possible.

Kayla Marceniuk hails from Bonnyville, Alta., embraces the cross-over between tattoos and geek culture. A true convention heroine, she has been to 18 different expos.

“I came for the fun, relaxation and celebration,” at Calgary Expo says Marceniuk as her lower leg is tattooed. The brave tattooee recently graduated with a degree in education.

“If I don’t do it now, it doesn’t get done,” says Marceniuk explaining why she chose to get a tattoo in full view of expo attendees, her face wincing in pain.

The elaborate flower tattoo is a memorial piece for her grandmother who passed away recently at the age of 110. Artist Christopher McPherson, who has immortalized Marceniuk with ink in the past, created her Calgary Expo tattoo.

After her tattoo is finished McPherson has only one major Expo plan, meeting the star of Firefly and Castle.

“I can’t wait to meet Nathan Fillion,” exclaims McPherson as the finishing touches are made to her new tattoo.

Shade of Grey Tattoos is located in Hall D of the Big Four building on the Stampede grounds. People attending the Calgary Expo will be able to book tattoo appointments from Friday to Sunday as long as artists are available.

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