Due South Tattoo Expo lefts its mark on the Coast

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The Twisted Anchor Tattoo Shop hosted the three-day Due South Tattoo and Art Expo at the Golden Nugget Biloxi Hotel and Casino from March 23 to 25.

The expo showcased 69 artists from across the country and held a myriad of tattoo-centered contests. Multiple local bands performed and a tattoo pageant show called Miss Due South was hosted by international cover model Mary-Leigh Maxwell.

It was train engineer Jeremy Rose’s second time attending the expo, and he said it will not be his last. He has been getting at least one tattoo a year for the last five years and got two while attending the show. “It is a great show with lots of talented artists I love coming here. [The expo] gets better every year,” Rose said.

Owner of Twisted Anchor Tattoo, Matt Stebly, collaborates with manager Christina Jackson to produce the show every year.

“I had an idea, and Christiana was like ‘Let’s do it’ and it actually works. Stebly makes the trophies every year by hand and screen prints them himself. He likes to keep in with a coastal theme,” Stebly said.

“I try to make them cool each year. It is very time consuming, but it is one of the things I enjoy because I think it is that little touch that makes it a little more personable instead of slapping a plaque on a t-ball trophy,” Stebly said.

Kyle Freeman, the manager of the Bell Rose Tattoo shop of Daphne, Alabama, has gone to the Due South expo for three of the four years it has been held.

Freeman said what draws him to tattoos is the imagery. “It is bright and bold. What I really love is that these guys [the tattooists of Bell Rose] just are so unique and creative. Everything is custom and it’s just fun,” he said.

Jackson said tattoo shops around the nation are invited but are not allowed to attend based on invitation alone. A screening process is done as well. “Entertainmentwise, [Jackson does] the best job ever picking bands that [are] really amazing for the area,” Stebly said.

Jackson said that the tattoo shop employees want people who are traveling to the expo to attend to get a feel of what it is like to live on the coast and its culture.

“We want to make sure the artists here represent what we want to represent and are talented and well rounded,” Jackson said.