Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009 | 1:51 p.m.
The steady whirring of tattoo guns wielded by several artists from around the city filled the air as Justin Carder watched an artistic depiction of a king of hearts flanked by the letter "F" take permanent shape on his forearm.
His latest tattoo, like the many other brightly colored inked images on his body that came before it, holds a symbolic meaning.
This one represents the band The Feds for which Carder was the drummer.
"After 14 years of playing, we decided to retire," he said.
Carder was among the large number of people in the South Point Hotel & Casino's exhibition center Friday night either getting ink done or checking out all things tattoo-related during the first Art & Ink Tattoo Festival.
About 50 vendors from Southern California and Southern Nevada featured clothing, body jewelry, and wall and body art during the event, which will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the second and final day of the festival today.
Attendee Cristina Gurney brushed her hair back revealing a fresh bandage behind her ear as she chatted with a vendor selling coffin-shaped bookcases.
"It would be a nice conversation piece when you walk in the house" she said.
While she was enjoying the unique items for sale, Gurney said the real reason she came out was to get a tattoo in honor of her husband.
Behind the bandage was the letter "M" for her husband's name.
"I figure he earned it. We've been together a long time," she said with a laugh.
Meanwhile attendees at a neighboring booth checked out the tribal art on the upper body and legs of Kenneth Fiavi, the self-described demonstration for Michael Fatutoa of Sacred Center Tattoo.
Fiavi said the same style of body art graced the bodies of his father and grandfather.
"Traditionally (in Samoan culture) that was how you showed your dedication to your family," he said.
For attendee Shara Jean tradition and dedication weren't the point, but rather expression.
Jean said her body art is like a part of her soul that serves to remind her where she is, where she came from and who she's going to be.
"All of my tats have a very emotional meaning to me," she said as she waited for tattoo artist Mauricio Martinez to finish with a client.
Martinez would soon get to work on the shading and coloring of a phoenix that covered Jean's entire back.
As his needle pricked the skin of the man in his chair, Martinez admitted that he's not a fan of being on the other end of the tattoo gun.
"I hate getting tattooed. It hurts," he said.
Ashley Livingston can be reached at 990-8925 or email@example.com.