Pioneering Tattoo Artists Featured at Fifth Annual Golden State Tattoo Expo in Pasadena Starting Friday

Published on Sep 17, 2021

Nikko Hurtado and Carlos Torres

Renowned color-portrait tattoo artist Nikko Hurtado and black-and-gray surrealism specialist Carlos Torres are hosting this year’s Golden State Tattoo Expo, being held for the sixth time at the Pasadena Convention Center Friday through Sunday.

Hundreds of the world’s best tattoo artists are once again converging in Pasadena, to the delight of Southern California tattoo enthusiasts who will surely have a chance to meet the artists they’ve been following online.

The expo usually is scheduled in January, but COVID-19 restrictions this year delayed it by several months.

“I love the city of Pasadena,” Hurtado said. “I love the people that are throwing the show and promoting it. The quality of artists that are coming out is amazing. So it’s just something that I feel makes sense to be a part of. So I’m really honored and excited.”

Hurtado and Torres are both well-known artists in California and have been collaborating with Marco Ceritelli, the organizer, for the past five years. Hurtado is the founder of the Hesperia-based tattoo shop Black Anchor Collective. Torres works with SoCal Tattoo in San Pedro, but has his own studio, The Raven and the Wolves, which he set up in Long Beach in 2017.

Ceritelli said anyone who wants to get a tattoo done can choose among the many artists arriving at the Expo, among them Peruvian-born Stefano Alcantara who had his own studio in New York; Pony Lawson, founder and CEO of MayDay Tattoo Company in Chicago; Jess Yen, creator of My Tattoo Family, with studios in Alhambra and Huntington Beach; and Michael Hussar, who’s known for his surrealist horror art tattoos and does oil paintings as well.

“It’s unique that only the best artists in the world can get in,” Ceritelli said. “We checked their portfolios and we put them together in one place. So it’s an opportunity to get tattooed by an artist you would normally not be able to get tattooed by.”

The Expo will feature live tattooing, an art gallery with live arts going on, tattoo contests throughout the day, sideshows, burlesque acts, and a beauty contest on Saturday.

“Tattooing has taken on a whole different life of itself and is no longer just from the jail house or back alley.  It’s a real form of art now,” Ceritelli said.

Aside from getting tattooed, visitors to the Expo can shop for original art, jewelry and fashion, take tattoo seminars, and shop for the newest in tattooing innovations.

Show times are 4 p.m. to 12 midnight on Friday, 12 noon to 12 midnight on Saturday, and 12 to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

A weekend ticket costs $60, and daily tickets are $30.

The Pasadena Convention Center requires proof of full vaccination or a negative test result within 17 hours as a condition of entry. Individuals can provide a vaccination card, a copy of a vaccination card, a vaccination record from a health care provider, a digital vaccination record, or a digital or printed lab result for a PCR or antigen test that indicates a negative result.

Masks are required, regardless of vaccination status, at all times while indoors. Masks may only be removed while actively eating or drinking, when seated at a designated table, or standing at a stationary counter. Individuals may not eat, drink, smoke, or vape while in the tattoo booth or while moving through the event.

To purchase tickets, visit

For more information, call (626) 793-2122 or visit

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