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December 20, 2011 / Stuart Mears

How did the bad feelings start?

Firstly before I go on I want to reiterate that all this is fact and I, one again, have hard evidence to prove everything you are about to read.

Woody (David Wood) is owner of the Brighton Tattoo Convention (Brighton Tattoo Convention Ltd.), Ginger Tickets (Ginger Tickets Ltd), Black Heart Tattoo Studio etc.

April 2009 – Before anything was actioned or decided upon, I had an initial meeting with Neil Dalleywater (ex-editor of Skin Deep Magazine) to discuss my ideas and thoughts about Tattoo Freeze. I explained my philosophy for the event and asked for his thoughts. At the time his only concern was whether people would come – as it was so close to Christmas. I explained that I had similar concerns but the ticket price would be set really low, and hopefully people will attend. As it turned out they did; far more people attended than expected for this new show (and we ran out of wristbands :) ). Other points that were discussed was that Brighton was also in January – but this was dismissed as a problem because there was only one show in January (other months had more than one show). Also – it was two weeks away at the other end of the country and was a different type of show all together. We left the meeting with Neil starting to put the list of 100 artists together that he thought we should invite.

27/05/09 – Neil Dalleywater sent me the list of 100 artists we wanted to invite to Tattoo Freeze.

28/05/09 – We had a meeting regarding Tattoo Freeze and the website. There had been a lot of negativity about Tattoo Freeze from Woody, the Brighton Convention organiser. Because of this negativity, both Neil and Alex Guest (then editor of Tattoo Master magazine) had suddenly changed their tune. They had now decided that the show was not a good idea because of the abuse they had wrongfully been taking. Neil asked if we could delay the launch of the website because of this. It was a good time to launch the website because a) it was pretty much ready and b) The Liverpool Tattoo convention was upcoming and it would be a great opportunity for our team to talk about this new exciting show we were having. I took the decision to launch the website.

05/06/09 – Tattoo Freeze website went live with all of the artists we had already (or were going to) invite. We had beautifully designed invitations produced and were sending out several invitations per day.

It soon became very clear that putting the artists we had invited (but had not yet confirmed) onto the website was a mistake. There was uproar about this and we took the list down a few days after the site went live. This was a mistake I apologised for a great many times.

6th & 7th June – Liverpool Tattoo Convention 2009 weekend

The reason I mention the Liverpool Tattoo Convention is that quite a few things happened at that event. The one which concerned us all the most was the personal safety of Skin Deep staff.

08/06/2009 – Neil and Alex wrote to say that they had a number of angry and negative responses to Tattoo Freeze at this event. To quote Neil Dalleywater, “On the evening of the 5th June I was already receiving text messages on my personal phone from the Brighton show organiser stating that they were very unhappy with MY decision to launch another event in direct competition to their Brighton show.” He continued “More worryingly I spent the early hours of Sunday morning in Liverpool hospital A&E department, after my drink was spiked with GHB, a date rape drug. I have been attending bike rallies, tattoo shows and large events for 25 years and I have never had my drink spiked before. It may just be coincidence but I find it hard to believe that in a bar full of people I was the unlucky one… I believe that this was a warning, pure and simple. The effects the drug had on me was that I was paralysed for four hours. I could see, hear and understand what was going on but could not move or speak. This was terrifying.” “I would like to draw your attention to the thread “Tattoo Bully’s” on the forum. Hopefully this will help to demonstrate that the Tattoo Industry, in the UK, is not all sunshine and roses. It has a dark and violent undercurrent…”.

My employees are my utmost priority and I take their safety very seriously. I also hate bullies. Bullies are cowards at the end of the day. I made the decision to separate the magazines and events and both Neil and Alex were taken off the events to stop these personal threats to them. The events would be run without their direct involvement and any problems that people had with our shows would be directed to and dealt with, by me. We printed a statement in our magazine stating words to this effect.

15/6/09 – Neil Dalleywater forwarded me an email that Woody had sent regarding Tattoo Freeze and Brighton. Woody said how upset he was about the timing of Tattoo Freeze and that he was removing all advertising from our publications and that any Jazz employee will not be welcome at the Brighton Convention in any form.

15/6/09 – I sent Woody this reply email:

Hi Woody,

Neil has forwarded on to me your email.

I am sorry you feel you have to do this, as our reasoning behind Tattoo Freeze were not at all to go into competition with Brighton or indeed any other show.

The show that we are trying to create is totally different to anything else that is in the Tattoo Convention calendar. I am a little surprised that you feel that we pose a threat to Brighton as you have obviously also worked your socks of and have built up a credible event just after 2 years.

Our one day show will have no effect on Brighton whatsoever. Despite it being a different type of event, 2 weeks time difference, one day and a totally different part of the country. In fact it had crossed my mind that we may be able to work together in getting certain big name overseas artists to work our event, we then find them guest spots in other studios, (something we can do easily) and then they work Brighton making their visit to the UK more worthwhile. There are many shows over the year (some say too many but I do not necessarily agree with this), several in particular months and some even on the same weekend!

What are your thoughts on this? I did not initially ask as I was not too sure how this would work, whether this is a good idea, and I also thought you would tell me to piss off, but, being as you have now told us to piss off, I might as well ask! :)

Thanks Stuart

I then phoned Woody to discuss, but had to leave a voice message…

25/6/09 – We were told that we were not allowed to have our trade stand at the London Tattoo Convention despite us agreeing to run adverts (which we had already printed) in return for trade space.

8/7/09 – I received an email from Woody apologising for the delay in contact and could I give him a call tomorrow?

9/7/08 – I phoned Woody to discuss

14/7/09 – Woody replied from our telephone conversation, saying he had given some thought to how best to put this issue to rest. He understood that we could not move the Tattoo Freeze 2010 dates, but that he would certainly look more favourably on the event if we could relocate the show to early February. He suggested that it may be that Artists could work the 3 days in Brighton, stay over a few days and head North for the next weekend, with the following weekend being Milan.

14/7/09 – I phoned Woody to discuss

15/7/09 – An email was sent from me to Woody confirming, as per our previous conversation, that I did not have a problem moving the event to February. I also asked him again if he would be interested in working together with artists for both shows.

2/9/09 – We were told that we could attend to cover the London Convention but still NOT trade at the event despite our previous agreement. London Tattoo Convention agreed to pay for the advertising we ran instead, which they duly did.

1/9/09 – I received an email from Woody saying he was going to pass on the ‘doubling up’ of artists where we would work together so they come to both shows.

1/9/09 – I replied in an email asking why?

No Reply was received.

So, as far as I was concerned Woody was happy that I was going to move the dates and we had come to an amicable agreement.

After this I starting hearing several rumours that Woody was telling artists that if they worked Tattoo Freeze, they could not work Brighton.

I called Woody to ask him about this, direct. Get an answer straight from the horses mouth, so to speak. He assured me that he was not saying this.

26/09/09 – I visited the London Tattoo Convention to see the show and also speak to Miki. At that event I continued to hear the same rumours.

28/09/09 – I emailed Woody a letter that contained the following:

I heard rumours once again that people who worked TattooFreeze would not be allowed to work Brighton or London, but seeing as I spoke to you direct about this, and you said those rumours were untrue, I take it that this is still the case.

Also to let you know that as promised, I have talked with the venue about next years dates with TF and they have slots free in February, so TF will now be run after Brighton from next year as we discussed.

Hope things are well and be good to meet soon. I am assuming you are happy for me to attend and meet up at the Brighton Convention?

Thanks again, Stuart

I did not get a reply.

I continued to hear that artists were being told .. “If you work Tattoo Freeze you can’t work Brighton or London.”

22/10/09 – I then received written confirmation that this was happening from someone, as they too had been told this. I was gobsmacked, having been given assurances that it was not happening direct from Woody.

Needless to say, I felt that I could no longer trust Woody and therefore did not change the dates of Tattoo Freeze. I had been lied to.

It also amazed me that despite getting grief from Woody over the last year or so – and openly online for all to see, he continued to be quite happy to promote himself, jobs needed for his studio, promote his events and businesses etc. on our website. Unbelievable cheek!

I removed his last post and when he asked who removed it – this was my exact PM to him on 16/06/2011:

Hi Woody,
I have deleted this post.

It is a little ironic that you bad mouth me and our products (and therefore my staff) on other Internet sites, refuse us to cover your event in our magazine, tell me directly over the phone one thing and then do another, and then come on our website to promote your products.

I have no problem you posting what you want on our website(s), but not until the above stops.

Thanks Stuart

Woody is still to this day telling people if they work Tattoo Freeze they cannot work Brighton. Yes, I have hard evidence of this and the last email to state this was received only recently on the 31/10/11, to be exact.

So to sum it up Woody got rather annoyed that we dared put on another show in January before his. However… It’s perfectly OK for him to consider doing that to other shows, isn’t it?

Approximately a year before (19/08/2008) Woody announced the news that he was going to put on a Summer version of the Brighton Show. The timing of the show would be, and I quote Woody directly, “I am extremely please to say that slipping gently between the cheeks of derby and tattoo jam will be a Summer version of the Brighton Show”.

What are the exact dates planned for this? “Date is pencilled in as 25th/26th July”

Why did this show not go ahead? Well, he also says and I quote again, “the timing was between Derby and Tattoo Jam, neither show I was worried about going head to head with to be honest, the hotel thing is a big no no thou… I don’t want to go nearer August cos I’m busy with London in Sept…”.

Now did you hear Derby OR us – as organisers of Tattoo Jam, moaning and whining? No you did not! Did he give any consideration to the Derby Show or Tattoo Jam? No he did not. . .

Again, Woody’s actions were NOT done for the good of Tattooing but to protect his own event. The fact that he tells artists and traders if you work one of our events you can’t work Brighton is not only ridiculous but is outright bullying. Surely, this should not be happening?

I’ll leave you with that thought…

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