Got ink? Then you’ll want to get yourself to this weekend’s third annual Hatter Remains Reunion, taking place Friday through Sunday at the Merry Manor Inn in South Portland.

The event is the continuation of a tattoo convention hosted for 20 years by Lou Robbins, who runs the Mad Hatter Tattoo Shop in Old Orchard Beach.

“When he canceled it, I picked it back up as the Hatter Remains, because it was the remaining artists,” said event organizer Deana Lippens of Deana’s Skin Art Studio in Christmas, Fla.

This year’s show includes sessions for tattoo professionals as well as public hours when anyone can watch the artists at work, get a tattoo, see a film screening, buy T-shirts or artwork, and meet others interested in this artistic form of self-expression.

“This convention was a really big deal among the founding generation of tattoo artists,” said Chris Dingwell of Sanctuary Tattoo & Art Gallery in Portland, who will deliver a painting seminar at the event. “Because of its history and reputation, it draws a lot of people. It’s a really friendly and easygoing atmosphere.”

Dingwell said when the convention first began, it was one of only a handful of such gatherings that took place in the nation.

“Now there are really four or five tattoo conventions going on every weekend,” Dingwell said.

At this weekend’s event, Dingwell, who has a master’s degree in fine art, will deliver a workshop called “Painting Without Fear” from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday night.

The seminar offers tattoo artists instruction on how to approach their work from a fine arts perspective by encouraging them to put paintbrush to canvas. Dingwell has been delivering this workshop at tattoo conventions around the country.

He starts by giving painting tips followed by two hours of live painting, where he invites anyone who’s signed up for the course to paint along with him. “It’s a great way for artists of all ages to paint side-by-side,” he said.

During each evening of the convention, there will be a contest for the best tattoo created that day.

On Saturday at 3 p.m., those whose ink is long dry can enter a contest and aim for first, second or third place in categories that include best color tattoo, best black and gray tattoo, most unusual tattoo, best sleeve, best back piece, best cartoon, best small tattoo and best overall body tattoo.

Throughout the weekend, the film “Covered,” directed by Beverly Yuen Thompson, will screen continuously in the bar. The film explores the role of women in the history of the tattoo industry while sharing the perspectives of present-day, heavily-tattooed women.

Inside the ballroom, 21 artists will set up mini-studios where they’ll show their portfolios and take appointments for actual work. Die-hard fans often contact their favorite artist in advance to book an appointment during the show. If you’d rather go the walk-in route, the best advice is to show up early before all the slots fill up.

This year’s lineup of tattoo artists includes James Mcgory of Turner; Tom Murphy of Ellsworth; Stephen D’asti, Michael “Canman” Cannistraro, Justin Buduo, Patty Pola and Dianna Welch, all from Massachusetts; Patty “Mistress of Pain” Colebank and Scott Colebank of West Virginia; Jon Thomas of New Hampshire; Bald Bill Henshaw and Eric Henshaw of Vermont; Rob White and Rick East of New York; and Dennis Correia, Rob Jeff and Donald “Inka” Correia of Rhode Island.

Whether you’re looking to get inked, find inspiration for your next tat or do some serious people watching, this weekend’s Hatter Remains Reunion will deliver all three. 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

[email protected]

Follow her on Twitter at:

filed under: