It's a big commitment, it's fairly expensive and it hurts.
Tim Lajambe's characterization of the tattooing process doesn't necessarily sound like a ringing endorsement to get inked up, but that hasn't stopped thousands of people from flocking to the annual tattoo shows he's organized over the past four years.
Having previously staged the West Coast Tattoo and Culture Show in Abbotsford, Langley and Vancouver, the 37-year-old Port Moody native is now gearing up for this weekend's fourth rendition of the show, which runs from Friday, April 27 to Sunday, April 29 at the Boulevard Casino.
"A lot of other tattoo shows are usually just tattoo conventions, which are basically targeted at bringing artists together to have workshops in a standard kind of convention format," Lajambe said. "Ours is more of a show, which allows people who don't have a tattoo to meet people, see all the different artists and different styles.
The three-day event will serve almost as an introductory course for newbies in the tattoo world, while also acting as a refresher for those looking for new artists, techniques and ideas.
More than 70 exhibitors will be on hand, alongside 125 tattoo artists from North America, Europe, Asia and South America. Celebrity tattoo artists Chris Nunez and Billy DeCola, stars of TLC programs Miami Ink and NY Ink respectively, will also be in attendance.
"It's a good place to meet the people and get a tattoo," Lajambe said. "These artists are all super nice people. These guys are artists and they're family guys, and that surprises a lot of people when they actually meet them."
The Friday and Saturday portions of the event, which are billed as adult only, will also feature a pin-up model pageant and the "First Annual Tattooed Vixen Alternative Model Pageant."
"They don't fall into that traditional modeling sort of look, but they're still super attractive girls," Lajambe said. "They have just chosen to be tattooed or pierced."
Lajambe's past events have attracted anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 people a pop.
His core demographic is the 19-to-35 set, and the gender split tends to be right down the middle.
But thanks to TV shows like Miami Ink and others that put the tattoo culture in the spotlight, Lajambe is starting to see that age gap narrow.
"We're starting to see, because of its popularity on TV, a lot of commemorative tattoos, so that brings out the older crowd," he said. "These people tend to get only one tattoo and it's either to commemorate a death or a birth. That's a really popular trend these days, so the age range is really wide open now."
The fact that he's able to attract thousands of attendees in a three-day stretch is a far cry from where tattoo culture was at when Lajambe got his first bit of ink 12 years ago.
"It's not as bad as it used to be, but there is still a bit of a stigma left over around tattoos - that only angry bikers and evil dudes create tattoos," he said.
"But most of these guys are artists first, and tattoo artists second."
Lajambe has about six tattoos in total and they cover the majority of his body: his back, both arms and his lower arms. But before making that commitment, he made sure to check off a list of wants and wishes.
"I look first at an artist's artwork and how it looks on paper before they even start putting it on you. You should be happy with it before they even start to tattoo. Plus, you have to look at their portfolio - everything they've done on everybody else," he said.
"They also have to have the ability to go back and forth and adapt to your vision. They have to be able to take suggestions and feedback and make adjustments. These people can sit in front of you and draw what you want, which is a lot more common these days than it once was."
The fourth annual West Coast Tattoo and Culture Show runs from 5 to 11 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets for adults cost $20. Tickets for kids, who are permitted to attend on Sunday only, cost $8. For more information, check out www. westcoasttattooshow.com.