This past weekend (March 23-25), 63 different artists from 24 shops across Western Canada, along with many local and out-of-town vendors, gathered at the Pile O' Bones tattoo convention, held at the Regina Inn. With artists coming from as far away as B.C., over the three-day event, hundreds of people get inked up, some or the first time and others who just added to their already staggering amount of body art. As soon as we arrived on Saturday afternoon, we immediately felt as though our tattoos were inade- quate in comparison to the full body jobs that some people had, gracing faces, heads and any other body part you could imgine. Most people were more than happy to have their picture taken and talk to us about their body art, making the whole weekend more fun than work. It certainly got us thinking about our next pieces, that's for sure. Though an involved helper in the past, this was Kevin Pattison's first year as one of the conven- tion's official organizers, and all in all, his first time was smooth ride. "There's always going to be road bumps, but we did pretty good this year... [We've had a] little bit of practice, though, so it's coming easier." Along with the mass amount of visi- tors over the weekend, local media also came to cover the event, proving that the burst of tattoos into the mainstream in recent years isn't going anywhere. Pattison agrees. "You can see a guy that works in an office that's got a full sleeve now. And guys don't walk in to their first tattoo and get, you know, heart or mom or whatever. Now, it's you walk in, you get a piece - you get a sleeve or a chest piece, or you get some actual art." As for the convention, he had some goals he hoped to achieve. "I'd like to see everybody that came here get a good piece of art ... I'd like to see a lot of happy faces." Judging by the people we saw, they were easy goals to meet. Pattison hopes to organize the event again next year. It's the same thought most of us have: "I have desires to go somewhere else every January," said Jarret Clarkson, owner of Rising Sun Tattoo and Piercing, with a laugh. Tattooing for 15 years, Clarkson got his start in Vancouver, but has been in Regina for last 14 years. "But no, Regina has been a really good city for us. It's been awesome." Clarkson was happy with this year's convention, and the people it brought out. "[It's a] really good cross section of talented artists from all over Canada." As for Clarkson, his love for his craft is something that will keep him tattooing for a while yet. "I can't see quitting any time in the near future. I'm gonna be the old timer and die in a chair halfway through a tattoo." It wasn't all tattoos on the weekend, however. Many vendors set up booths. Andrew Thomson, owner of Plan B, a clothing and accessories store, came to the convention with his wife, Melanie, from Calgary. Originally from Regina, Andrew saw the trip as a good opportunity for many reasons. "March for us in the retail world is a little slow ... so I figured, hey, let's come down, see some family, and see if we can move some stuff." Their unique clothes and accessories, such as purses, belt-buckles and even toddler apparel, fit right in with a weekend of unique individ- uals. "We called it Plan B because we didn't want to pigeon hole what the shop was ... Originally, we were doing more the old-school, hotrod, tattoo-inspired [clothing], plus a lot of low rider bike influence, and we've just gone more and more towards the custom-culture, low- brow art, hot rod kind of way ... it's been a lot of fun." The couple's joint tattoo count is almost 20 pieces. Though he got his start here, local artist Sean Treble, owner of Planet Caravan, has traveled a lot, working many guest spots in shops across Canada. "I've worked all over the place, Vancouver to Montreal." But for Treble, Regina was the best place to start and grow his career. "It was easiest to start, to open up my own shop, because I had a following [here]. "This is home." Treble is a favourite in the city, and very busy. He is currently booked up well into next year.