Jessica Prokop

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June 22, 2013
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Inkfest highlights Oregon tattoo artistry

Visual art comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. It just all depends on the medium of expression. For some artists, the human body is their canvas.

“I think tattoos are so beautiful and bold,” said tattoo enthusiast Sheri Johnson, 28, of Grants Pass. “Everyone has misconceptions. But really, it’s in the eye of the beholder.”

Tattoo artists from across the state set up shop at the Douglas County Fairgrounds to celebrate, Inkfest, the area’s first tattoo convention Friday through Sunday.

Casey Sheehan, 36, of Irish Ink in Grants Pass spent a portion of Saturday afternoon tattooing Johnson’s left thigh with roses, a pocket watch and numbers from “Alice in Wonderland,” along with the saying ‘time waits for no one.’

“Inkfest is about edgy art,” Inkfest producer, Victor Fejeran of Roseburg, said.

Fejeran, alongside his significant other, Dawn Hammer, have been working for the last seven months to organize the event. The couple rounded up about 10 to 15 tattoo artists to offer artwork on site, along with various craft and trade vendors.

“The tattoo culture is booming,” Fejeran said. “People want something that means something to them.”

Fejeran and his sons, for instance, have their family crest tattooed on their backs. The symbolism drew Fejeran to the tattoo culture.

This is speaks true for many who decide to get inked.

Cherish Dietrich, 31, of Roseburg waited in line at Roseburg’s Sugar Candy Piercing & Tattoo to have additional work done to each of her thigh tattoos, one of which represents her brother who is in the Navy.

Dietrich also has a chest piece of her son and daughter with a lock over her heart to signify that her children hold the keys to her heart.

“I wanted to get something that was them but not names and birth dates,” Dietrich said.

Across the way, tattoo artist Casey Meservey, 32, of Harbor Tattoo in Brookings, sketched out what he described as a new school style of a mariachi skeleton to honor the Day of the Dead.

Meservey has been dabbling in the arts for his whole life but didn’t become a tattoo artist until four years ago, he said.

His interest in the ink industry began when he was a teenager getting at-home tattoos.

When he went to get them fixed later in life, he fell in love with the art form, he explained.

Among Meservey’s many tattoos are his favorite bible verses and a tattoo gun that he got when he became a licensed tattoo artist.

Despite the Inkfest name, tattoo artistry wasn’t the only art form on display.

Roseburg photographer Laurie Breier showed her railcar graffiti art.

Three years ago Breier said she started taking up-close photos of graffiti on railcars stationed behind Umpqua Dairy.

“The train is just the canvas,” Breier explained.

Graffiti art was also a common theme for the YO! Youth Outreach Center, which showcased various works of art, including works by artist Audrey Skullee of Bauble Art Beat of Oregon.

Recently, the YO! Youth Outreach Center lost federal funding to continue its operations.

Hammer insisted the program participate in Inkfest as a way to showcase the teenager’s creative talents and as a way to raise funds to keep the program going a little while longer.

As of now, YO! is scheduled to close its doors June 30.

“It’s not fair. We need to stay open. These kids need somewhere to go,” YO! coordinator Kasi Clausen said.

Clausen has been heading the program for the last 18 months.

She said if Phoenix Charter School receives funding, it will operate its own Youth Outreach program.

“I hope the community sees the involvement of these kids,” Hammer said. “I don’t want to see anyone fall in the cracks.”

• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and

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The News-Review Updated Jun 23, 2013 12:23AM Published Jun 25, 2013 08:17AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.