Women Who Ink: Hell City highlights

Kristen Schmidt, Columbus Alive

Not one of the women we've featured this week is working at the Hell City Tattoo Fest this weekend (really, we were looking for a reason to write about them). But dozens of other artists will be there, infusing Columbus skin with fresh ink all weekend. If body art of any kind is your thing, you're going to be entertained by this show.

Artist Meet & Greet

8 p.m. Thursday, May 3

Festival tickets are not required for this party, which is free and open to the public. Head to the convention center to meet some of the tattoo artists and enthusiasts who will be at the festival. The party ends (at the convention center, anyway) when the bar closes.

Tattoo competitions

Various times, all weekend

Main stage

Think you've got the best art in the joint? Fifteen bucks buys your way into a tattoo competition at Hell City. Festival admission is required for those of us who just want to watch. Competitions are broken down into categories: traditional, unusual/weird, best portrait, worst and best overall female are just a few not to miss.

Celebrity tattoo artists

Various booths, all weekend

Tattoo artists probably feel the same way about tattoo reality shows as chefs do about food reality shows: They're a mixed blessing. But there's no arguing that television has raised the profile of tattoo artistry and made tattoos less taboo. Stars of "Ink Master" and "Best Ink" are among the artists putting their mark on clients this weekend.

FreakShow Deluxe

8 p.m. Saturday, May 5

Main stage

Truth in advertising: "FreakShow Deluxe is about the REAL. It deals in flesh and blood, in pain and pleasure, in flame, fire and sharp pointy things!" This is vaudeville turned on its head, placed in a dark room and given a twisted sense of fun.

HC Killumbus 2012 Bands

7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Main stage

Columbus "real deal sleaze rock band" Charlie Hustle promises to whip the crowd into a frenzy Friday evening. Nick Tolford & Co. rock and soul the place on Saturday. And Chiaroscuro will do its best to act like its art-term namesake, starting softly and ending with a "maelstrom of hard-edged monstrous sound."

Heck City Kids Zone

All weekend


Wee ones who join their cool parents at the festival this weekend will be treated to a coloring contest, face painting, balloons, candy, photos with the Hell City mascot and, of course, temporary tattoos.

Greater Columbus Convention Center

Friday, May 4-Sunday, May 6

400 N. High St., Downtown