Anime Ink Con Brings Anime Fans and Tattoo Enthusiasts Together

Anime Ink Con 2022

Since 2019, Anime Ink Con has descended on Richmond, Virginia with only one goal in mind: bringing fans of anime and tattoos together under one roof to celebrate all things ink and animation.

In what may be its most popular event yet, Anime Ink Con returned in full force with hundreds of vendors and artists as well as plenty of attendees who flocked to the Richmond Convention Center in costume in 2022.

anime ink con october 2022

Anime Ink Con descends on the Greater Richmond Convention Center for three days of ink and animation.

This was the second year Anime Ink Con offered prizes not only for tattoo contests, but also cosplay. Competitions run every day of the con, providing plenty of opportunities for everyone to try and snag a prize. On Saturday night alone, there were 64 entrants in the cosplay competition—a new record—and a whopping 90 entrants for a single tattoo category.

anime ink crowd

The crowd gathers for the second night of cosplay and tattoo competition at Anime Ink Con.

The top three cosplays each night were chosen by three judges, with honorable mentions for each judge’s favorite in addition. The tattoo competitions were a little more specific, with awards for Best Color (large and small), Best Blackwork, Best Watercolor, Best Anime Trad, Best Demon Slayer, and Best Pokémon. Awards were also doled out for Best of Day for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as Best of Show.

gyutaro tattoo

This Gyutaro tattoo by @deeziebeezie took home bronze for Best Demon Slayer tattoo on Saturday night.

Danni Butler took home bronze for Best Demon Slayer tat on Saturday night, with the blessing of none other than Bryce Papenbrook, who stepped in as a judge for the competition. In a fun twist, Danni was cosplaying as Inosuke while she worked on the tattoo.

With hundreds of tattoo artists in attendance, anyone interested in scoring some ink had plenty of opportunity to find someone with the style they wanted, whether something small and cute or bold and eye-catching. Many artists accepted walk-up clients, though at least as many were fully booked. One thing to keep in mind if you attend Anime Ink Con in the future is it’s best to contact any of the artists you’d prefer to work with ahead of time, as their appointment slots often get snatched up quickly.

tattooing in action

Tattooers came from all over and often booked up their schedules quickly.

As for the cosplay on display, Demon Slayer was probably the most popular franchise, including several Tengen cosplayers with various wives (or sometimes husbands) in tow. One Piece, Jujutsu Kaisen, and Spy x Family saw plenty of homage as well. Some of the best cosplay moments came when families or children participated, even prompting Saturday night’s judging panel to add an additional winner for some of the youngest cosplayers in attendance.

kids dbz cosplay

Fans of all ages were invited to cosplay their favorite characters, including this adorable pair as Bulma and Broly.

Anime Ink Con also played host to several voice actors this year, with Michelle Ruff, Erica Schroeder, David Lodge, Keith Silverstein, and Bryce Papenbrook all providing fans the chance for meet and greets as well as signed merch. Several even lent their opinions to judge the cosplay and tattoo competitions throughout the weekend.

no face cosplay

No Face made a brief appearance in the cosplay competition, though the gluttonous spirit failed to take home any prizes.

Studio Ghibli wasn’t only represented in the cosplay competition, where No-Face, Kiki, and other characters made an appearance. Nods to the iconic movie studio could also be seen on full display in plenty of tattoos, both fresh and old.

anbu mask and soot sprites tattoo

Soot Sprites from Spirited Away and Kakashi Hatake‘s ANBU mask tattooed on Friday, shortly after the convention began.

Many attendees sported plenty of ink, with lots of folks looking to expand their tattoo collections during the con. Several cosplayers even adorned their bodies with fresh pieces dedicated to the very characters they cosplayed as.

makima from chainsaw man

@alex__bowman added extra authenticity to their Makima cosplay look with a prop pet!

This Makima cosplayer also got the character’s eyes tattooed on their upper arm while at the convention before participating in the cosplay competition.

deku and shinsou cosplays from bnha

Two cosplays are better than one! Coordinating your cosplay with a friend or partner is always a good time, and offers lots of fun opportunities for combining characters, as these two cosplayerscan attest.

Izuku and Shinsou were headed out for a break before returning so Deku’s cosplayer could get the Green Hero tattooed.

Other cosplayers made appointments for unrelated ink.

misty and ash from pokemon cosplay

Striking an in-character pose is always encouraged, especially when you come prepared with the perfect props. @binandtank and @ziggityzac13 pose as iconic Pokémon trainers.

Misty and Ash make for a simple and fun couple’s costume. Ash had plans to add to a ’90s cartoon dog-themed half sleeve with Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

charmander tattoo

Who doesn’t love a super cute Pokémon tattoo? This Charmander by @tattooedkelly666 is just as in love as we are!

This Charmander tattoo by Miss Kelly makes a cute addition to one con-goer’s growing collection.

sailor mars cosplay

Any of the Sailor Scouts make for a great cosplay. Take a page from @the_natureshawty‘s book and don’t be afraid to add your own unique touch; this headpiece was handmade by the wearer to match their outfit!

This Sailor Mars had no plans to get tattooed at the convention, but made a group outing of the con with her anime club, which is based in Richmond, where Anime Ink Con has been held since its inception.

sailor moon flash tat by mila

The detailed linework makes this Sailor Moon tattoo by @therealinnerlip really pop.

Mila Sasieta offered attendees plenty of Sailor Moon-inspired flash to choose from, including this Crisis Moon Compact piece. She was easy to spot with her Miam-inspired neon sign and also had merch, including trippy prints available for purchase.

hawks cosplay from bnha

Big and bold: Hawks’ red-feathered wings stole the show everywhere @little_chibi318 went.

My Hero Academia had plenty of fans in attendance including this Hawks who truly committed to the part, not afraid to fight their way through the crowds with wide-spanned wings which created a truly eye-catching look. In a twist, they were scheduled to get inked with a Kirishima tattoo instead of the character they cosplayed as.

overhaul cosplay bnha

Birds of a [different] feather: @gothhavocado‘s jacket adds the perfect purple flourish to a relatively simple outfit. Don’t be afraid to use clothes you already have as a base for a great cosplay!

Though the Heroes of BNHA were overwhelmingly represented, Overhaul appeared in several forms as well, proving there’s always room for interpretation. While this cosplayer stayed fairly true to the source material, Kai Chisaki costumes ran the gamut from terrifying to a little sexy, depending on each player’s preference.

lucy from cyberpunk: edgerunners cosplay

All about the attitude: finding the perfect pose and facial expression for your character can help really sell your look and make it feel even more authentic to the character it’s based on, as @_leelikebruce demonstrates.

Cosplayers went new and old school during the con. This Lucy cosplayer leaned hard into the zeitgeist by choosing a character from a brand-new Netflix release.

In the same vein, artist Logan Mara from Norfolk, VA offered up this stunning Rebecca tattoo from Cyberpunk: Edgerunners.This piece by @sadknivestattoo wraps around the leg, making it difficult to capture in a single photo. Even with so many tattoos on display, this one certainly turned heads with its eye-catching colors and bold design.

scarecrow from batman begins cosplay

Commitment to theatrics: @aakashmantri knows the value of a good prop.

Not every cosplay was based on anime. This attendee proved that the devil–or in this case, the Scarecrow–may be in the details, using a small spray bottle to help bring the maniacal Dr. Crane from Batman Begins to life. Though less often cosplayed than some other Batman villains, this Scarecrow truly pulled off the psychologically terrifying look.

faye valentine from cowboy bebop cosplay

By sticking to a similar color scheme or silhouette, you can nail a character design without it being an exact match to the original.

Classic anime were well-represented as well, including this Faye Valentine cosplay, which was based on the character’s original anime design, though far less revealing.

sesshomaru from inuyasha cosplay

@rensummers27 cut an imposing figure as the powerful yokai Sesshomaru.

Inuyasha‘s older half-brother Sesshomaru made an appearance at Anime Ink Con sans his mystical sword, but with a long white wig and face paint to compliment the dog demon’s robes.

squirtle heart tattoo

Too cool for school: this super fun Squirtle Squad design by @deanna_tattoos is a scene stealer for sure.

With a category specifically for Pokémon-inspired tattoos, it’s no surprise there were so many spotted around the convention, including this heart-shaped Squirtle with sunglasses by Deanna Cipollone.

zoro and yamatao from one piece cosplay

Teamwork: @foxandowlcosplay collaborate frequently and clearly knocked it out of the park with their One Piece costumes.

While belovedLuffy got plenty of love in many forms, this duo dressed as Zoro and Yamato made a statement with their detailed cosplays, even striking the perfect pose when asked for a photo.

sasaki cosplay

@mallorythegemini knows you don’t have to be exact in your interpretation to make a costume feel true to the original.

This cosplayer put their own spin on Sasaki fromSasaki to Miyano, proving there are endless ways to interpret your favorite characters and have fun by creating your own twist on the original. This attendee also had aHaikyu!! manga panel tattooed on their arm Friday night at the convention, though it was too buried under their cosplay layers to be quite camera ready.

And of course, when it comes to an event like Anime Ink Con, which is still relatively new, it’s always possible to find some folks who have been attending since the beginning.

freddie meowth cosplay

Two-in-One: You can make something totally unique by combining two characters you love into a one-of-a-kind cosplay like @elliebug54 here.

This cosplayer got a little self-referential by cosplaying as the tattoo they got at last year’s convention, a Meowth-Freddy Kreuger hybrid! When you’ve been showing up since the beginning, and had the opportunity to watch an event you enjoy so much grow over time, there’s no reason not to expect you’d like to commemorate the experience in more ways than one.

meowth freddy tat

Full circle: this cosplayer dressed as the tattoo they got at last year’s Anime Ink Con!

Anime Ink Con may still be a lot smaller than some other fandom events, but its following has only increased since its first run in 2019, and is sure to continue to grow. Touting itself as the only anime tattoo convention in the world, there are few experiences quite like it. If you’re a fan of tattoos and anime, make sure to keep an eye out for Anime Ink Con in 2023!

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Horror lover. VHS collector. Stray cat savior.

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