The Maritime Tattoo Festival is coming to the Halifax Forum this weekend, bringing with it fire-eaters, mud wrestlers and 73 tattoo artists from around the world.

Even though the sideshow performer will let you staple money to his chest, in the eyes of the festival’s founder, the main event is the promotion of health and safety in an industry that’s unregulated in the Maritimes.

“Because there’s no health inspection, you’re getting a lot of tattoo shops that aren’t biologically tested and uncertified tattoo artists working,” said Amber Thorpe, who started this festival in 2007 and owns the local parlour Adept Tattoos.

 

Thorpe said the education of tattoo artists is really what drives her to run the festival. Anyone doling out body art at the event will have passed an eight-hour course on safe tattooing techniques. They will also be able to take other seminars during the festival that runs Saturday through Monday.

“[The festival]’s just gotten bigger. We’re actually, by artist standards, rated one of the No. 1 shows in Canada,” Thorpe said. “It’s just so much fun and there’s so much education going on.”

The festival is also an opportunity for people to appreciate an art form that Thorpe said is only slowly gaining recognition.

“We don’t really get art galleries much, you know?” she said. “This is how we kind of create our own art gallery.”