An All American Weekend at NC’s Largest Tattoo Convention

April 12, 2018

Guess where North Carolina’s largest tattoo convention is held? Fayetteville, the "All American City," of course. This should come as no surprise to anyone that understands how prevalent tattoo culture is in military communities like ours, and The All American Tattoo Convention (AATC) really gets that. In fact, their goal is to bring world-renowned tattoo artists to Fort Bragg’s front door to give our military members/veterans an opportunity to be tattooed by the best of the best. Our locals and visitors just happen to reap the benefits of AATC’s mission. Last year’s convention was such a success that they’re packing even more into this year’s three-day event at the Crown Complex. This, plus an exhibit and after-parties, will be keeping our visitors entertained all weekend long.

tattoo conventionImage courtesy of @chopshoptattoos, with photo credit given to JDR Photography


Since Downtown Fayetteville is home to four tattoo studios and numerous arts venues, I’d recommend taking the time to visit this area of the city. Yesterday I stopped by the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County to take in Impressions: More Than Skin Deep. This exhibit perfectly coincides with AATC, as it’s showcasing “the other art” created by tattoo artists. Knowing that these artists’ talents aren’t limited to just skin art, the Arts Council challenged them to submit their best work on other mediums, such as canvas and paper.

On my walk-through, I was especially enamored by the works of two artists: Hal Sawyer from Blood & Bone Custom Tattoo Gallery and Carlos Tolentino from Best Ink of Fayetteville (both featured in pics below). Both these artists will be representing their studios at AATC, as well. Make a point to visit the Arts Council this weekend to check out all the tattoo artists’ 30+ works, most of which are for sale. Can’t make it this weekend? No worries, it will remain on display through May 12th.

Tip: Have you ever seen cappuccino art? After you’ve taken in the exhibit at the Arts Council, walk two doors down to Rude Awakening Coffee House for Tattoo Your Coffee. A barista will print your own tattoo in your cappuccino or latte (free with beverage purchase). How cool is that?

tattoo conventionAngelina by Hal Sawyer (Graphite)

tattoo conventionArtista by Carlos Tolentino (Charcoal)


The main reason Fayetteville will be flooded with visitors this weekend is, of course, The All American Tattoo Convention (AATC), taking place at the Crown Complex April 13th thru 15th. Close to 400 tattoo artists are descending on our city from around the country to show off their skills and celebrate our military members/veterans. Many of these artists are reality television celebrities, starring in such shows as Ink Master, Tattoo Nightmares and Tattoo Rescue.

On top of all the body art that will be created at AATC, there is some great entertainment on the line-up, as well. You won’t want to miss the All Veteran Parachute Team, Air Born Aerial Performers or Fayetteville Roller Derby's Rogue Rollergirls showing off their unique talents. Another popular AATC event takes place on Saturday, and that’s The Miss All American Pin-Up Contest. This is a tasteful competition between women who’ll be representing different eras of the pin-up look, from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. Also, if you have some ink you’re especially proud of, you’ll want to enter the Tattoo Contest—emceed by Joey Tattoo, host of Spike TV’s Tattoo Rescue.

Tip: Needing last-minute accommodations while you’re in town? AATC’s official host hotel is Ramada Plaza / Baymont Inn & Suites. Not only do they offer a discounted convention rate, but they’re also conveniently located just 3 miles from the Crown Complex. For additional options, check out the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s comprehensive list of Accommodations.

tattoo conventionOne of last year's featured tattoo artists working on an arm piece

tattoo conventionAn AATC attendee getting some back work done by a tattoo artist


The fun doesn’t have to end when the convention shuts down every evening. There’s a rocking after-party happening somewhere in Fayetteville every night. Even the night before the convention kicks off, you can join the Thursday Night After-Party at Paddy’s Irish Pub. AATC DJ Jimmy Cranford will be DJ’ing for this lively crowd. Then get your karaoke game-face on for Johnny “Awesome” Ivey and DJ Cranford at the laid-back Friday Night After-Party at Bourdeaux Sports Bar & Grill in the Ramada Plaza / Baymont Inn & Suites.

You’ll have two options on Saturday. For a stellar line-up of heavy metal/hard rock bands, head to the Saturday After-Party at The Drunk Horse Pub. If clubbing’s more your thing, then you’ll want to be at the Saturday After-Party at Club Barcelona, Fayetteville’s largest upscale nightclub, where there’ll be DJs, live music, martini bar, patio and more.

Tip: Although it's not an official AATC after-party, another fantastic local venue is offering their patrons live music Saturday night. Head downtown, to the iconic Charley’s Pub, to see The Chemical Lizards put on a sweet show.

tattoo conventionJohnny "Awesome" Ivey presenting an award at the Tattoo Contest

tattoo conventionLast year's winners of the Ms. All American Pin-Up Contest

While you're in town for the convention, you might want to check out our growing brewery scene. I shared all about how we're celebrating NC Beer Month with our five breweries on "Take the Hometown Hops Challenge!" April is also the month for the arts, specifically performing arts; read more about upcoming events on "Soak Up the Arts in April!," or scroll through the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau's Calendar of Events.

(Permission was granted by the Arts Council to take pictures of the exhibit artwork featured above for the purposes of this blog.) is owned by the
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