Some fans who love an Omaha music festival are making their passion permanent.
More than a dozen people have signed up to get tattoos of Maha Music Festival's blackbird logo. Yes, the kind of tattoo you can't wash off.
The tattoos are free, and each fan's dedication will mean a free pair of tickets to the Aug. 11 festival. Oxide Design Co., which designed the fest's logo, provided both the ink and the tickets.
Sara Dappen, 25, took up Oxide's offer and got a tattoo on her ankle Friday afternoon at Black Squirrel Tattoo.
“It feels like a kitten licking,” she joked as she winced at the pain, even though she has a skull and crossbones on her ribcage in addition to other tattoos on her wrist and legs.
The Omahan has volunteered at Maha since it began in 2009 and now is the fest's merchandise manager. She jumped at the chance to get the Maha tattoo.
So far, more than a dozen other people have set up appointments. More than 20 additional fans have said they want to go through with it, but haven't yet set up a time. One Maha fan is getting his done the day before the festival because he's traveling here from Kansas City for the event, which features bands including Desaparecidos, Garbage and Delta Spirit.
The popularity of the tattoo offer stunned Maha organizers.
“I couldn't believe it,” said Tre Brashear, one of Maha's co-founders. “Honestly, we didn't have any idea that there would be this kind of response.”
Brashear is thinking about getting branded with the festival's logo himself. His wife has signed off on the idea, but he's still not sure.
“It's a great idea,” he said. “It's fun and it's gotten huge buzz. It's really taken off.”
The tattoo idea started with a merchandising and promotional brainstorming session in Oxide's offices. The company, which handles all of Maha's branding, was trying to think of ways fans could show their passion for Maha, said Drew Davies at Oxide. Ideas included T-shirts, buttons and VIP passes.
“In the independent music scene, how do they show their pride that they're wacky, zany and crazy passionate about? Tattoos,” Davies said. “It's so visceral and permanent and it says, ‘This is something that is critically important to me because I'm willing to tattoo it on my body forever.' ”
Oxide jokingly pitched the idea to Maha organizers, but then they got serious. Eventually, Oxide staff met with Black Squirrel employees to work out a plan.
When the idea was launched on Facebook, it drew a lot of attention. Within three hours, it also drew six people who scheduled appointments.
“We didn't know if anyone would take us up on it at all,” Davies said. “The response has certainly been overwhelming and exciting.”
Dappen's tattoo didn't take long. Artist Matt Dinovo was finished in 10 minutes.
Dappen said the pain wasn't bad compared to tattoos she's gotten in the past. On a scale from 1 to 10, she gave it a 5.
Though Oxide paid for the art, Dappen pointed out a bit of tattoo etiquette as she left: “Tip your artist.”
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