In this job I often get asked to recommend tattooists to people and that can sometimes put me in a difficult situation. I mean, I know what I like, but will my taste be the same as the person asking for the advice? Nine times out of ten - not so, which is a good thing. We are all individuals (although the government would like us to be otherwise) and as such we all have a huge variation on the subjects and the styles of tattoos that we hunker after. This diversity is one of the best things about our industry; no two opinions are the same, and so this is always my dilemma when I’m asked to recommend artists.
I am only too pleased to help out when I can. You have to remember that at the moment I have Skin Deep and Skin Shots magazines to edit and the organisation of our first tattoo convention, Tattoo Jam in August www.tattoojam.co.uk (Excuse the blatant self-promotion!) and with just myself and my trusty sidekick Alex, it’s quite a handful. So if I’m a little late with my replies, I apologise now.
But the diversity of the subjects and ideas that we choose to get tattooed on ourselves really is the lifeblood of tattooing. You will have heard the old saying “the only limit is your imagination” and I think that this sums it all up in one nice, succinct sentence. I don’t know exactly how many tattooists there are working in the world at the moment, but each and every one of them (be it a man or a woman) are doing something just that little bit different from their tattooing neighbour, which is fantastic for tattooing and gives each tattoo collector a huge choice.
One of the best ways to promote tattooing within our tight-knit community is the tattoo convention. Britain has had a good strong history of shows harking back to the very early days of tattooing, with shows like the Bristol tattoo conventions way back in the fifties organised by Les Skuse. Then the famed Dunstable Tattoo Convention set the scene for British shows for a good while. Another such benchmark show has been the Ink and Iron held in Birmingham. This year would have been the fourteenth year that the convention would have taken place. I say ‘would have’ as you may already have heard that it was cancelled at the last minute by the NEC due to the police advising the conference centre of certain things. What a bloody shame; this has been the UK’s longest running show, but fear not, the organisers tell Skin Deep that they will be back with a vengeance next year, making the Ink and Iron bigger and better than ever before.
As you’ll read in the stop press on this page, the Great North Show run by Carl Cooke and his team of willing cohorts has also been cancelled due to building works at the venue, but Carl will be back in ’09, you can guarantee that.
So, diversity is the key to our lifestyle. Every tattoo show I go to brings a new and thrilling prospect of seeing fresh ideas and designs put into the skin. I love the fact that ‘one man’s water is another man’s wine’, and long may it stay that way.