CREATED Feb. 10, 2013
Council Bluffs, IA - From Lincoln to Houston, New Jersey to Florida, more than 10,000 people from across the country came to the "Best in the Midwest" tattoo convention. It wrapped up at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs on Sunday. More than 180 artists from across the globe attended the ink fest.
"Twenty years ago it was bikers for the most part," said co-organizer Joe Smith. "It was a second rate profession, and now as it's coming out of the shadows. It draws higher and higher talent."
"It has changed for the better. It has become a little more mainstream," said Kristal Oreto. She passed up a convention near her hometown Philadelphia to come to Omaha.
"There's an energy here. It makes you want to step up your game," Oreto said.
According to the PEW Research Center, 40 percent of Americans age 26 to 40 have at least one tattoo. It's a nearly 2 billion dollar a year industry.
"TV's helped a lot. It's actually made it more acceptable for moms and dads, grandmas. I tattooed a couple of 60 year old ladies," Travis Brown, an artist from Florida said.
This is the second year the convention has come to the area. Organizers plan to bring it back again next year.