Each and every year that a Celebration event is held, I find it difficult to imagine how Iíll top the experience I had the previous Celebration. Yet year after year, top it I do and Celebration V was by far the biggest and best experience Iíve had to date. I began hosting the tattoo events and competitions at Celebration III in 2005 and never in my wildest dreams did I think it would have led to the enormous Tattoo Pavilion we had this year at CV, just a short 5 years later. By co-hosting the Pavilion with Marc Draven, we were able to bring in over 20 tattoo artists, including two international artists from my book The Force in the Flesh, and all of them were booked solid the entire weekend.
In addition to the Pavilion, I also coordinated the Empire Skates Back art project where 30 tattooers were each given a blank skateboard deck to paint their homage to the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. I was a little disappointed to only have received 22 of the boards back from the artists however my disappointed waned once the show opened and people's reactions to the boards were overwhelmingly positive. By Sunday afternoon, my disappointment had 180'd to sheer elation after we auctioned the decks for the Make A Wish Foundation and raised over $12,000! It was pretty hard to wipe the bursting with pride smile that I had on the rest of the day from my face.
And while Iím mostly known for the work I do with the tattoo events and for my book The Force in the Flesh, I'm first and foremost a vintage collector. I participated in two Collecting Panels, one I hosted on my own discussing Star Wars animation art (the panel was posted on StarWars.com for those interested in checking it out: http://www.starwars.com/vault/collecting/cv_collecting_animation_art/index.html) and I shared the stage with many of my good friends and fellow collecting authors where we discussed our books and the pros and cons of self-publishing vs. licensed publishing. It was an amazing experience that Iíll never forget.
No matter how amazing all of the above was this year; the truest joy from each and every Celebration is spending time with old friends from around the world and making new ones. It was so great to spend many long, nearly sleepless days with some of my favourite people in the world and getting to know new tattoo artists and collectors who Iím sure will become lifelong friends. It's those memories that truly make Celebration what it is.