Musink provides a creative gathering for tattoo and music lovers

Art has been a constant attraction for Jessy D'Auria.

She knew from a young age that she wanted to use her creativity to make a difference and a living.  But figuring out what that would look like wasn't easy.

D'Auria tried painting and then photography, but it wasn't until she found the art of tattooing two years ago that she found fulfillment.

On Saturday, D'Auria, 32, was among about 250 tattoo artists at the O.C. Fair and Events Center in Costa Mesa for the seventh annual Musink Tattoo Convention and Music Festival.

The three-day festival, which wraps up Sunday, was expected to attract 15,000 people, had artists from as far as Japan and Italy and featured musical acts such as The Descendents, Tech N9ne, The Vandals and Transplants.

Presented by Travis Barker, most noted as the drummer of Blink 182, the event has become a regular for local artists and tattoo lovers.

"Right now we're part of the community," said Cory Danger, who helps with event planning. "It feels very comfortable to be here and there's a lot of demand for it."

For the past three years, the festival has become a place to get tattoos and a birthday celebration for Fullerton residents Steve and Sandy Howard. The festival often falls around Steve Howard's birthday, with Sunday marking his 40th celebration.

Steve Howard planned on getting a new tattoo, an underwater scene, to celebrate his birthday and support his tattoo artist and friend during the event.

Sandy Howard, 45, who along with her husband attends two to three tattoo festivals a year, said it's a nice place to look at various tattoos and also people watch.

Japanese tattoo artist Ryosuke Hata came from Tokyo to be part of the festival. He was recommended to the festival presenters by Santa Ana-based Sid's Tattoo Parlor.

Hata said through a translator that he likes the festival and found it to be a good place for tattoo artists. He also and enjoyed the bands.

Long Beach resident Kelly Kowalski, 34, who has accumulated 27 tattoos since turning 18, was at Musink on Saturday to get her latest one, a girl in peacock feathers.

As she sat at the Orange-based American Vintage booth to get her tattoo by her longtime friend and tattoo artist Aaron Cox, Kowalski said she likes the pain.

"It's a stress reliever," she said.

As for D'Auria — who works at West End Gallery, a tattoo and art studio in Ventura — she said she finally found her calling.

"It was challenging, but I wake up every day and I love what I do," she said.

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