Firstly I’d like to thank all those who commented on last month’s editorial about the increase of studios looking for working artists and the dangers of us becoming tattoo snobs. It’s nice to know that my diatribes get read from time to time and it was encouraging to have folk come and say that they enjoyed my sentiments at a recent convention.
This month I’d like to mention something that seems to be creeping into our industry of late. Thieving.
I have been attending festivals, tattoo and bike-related events for well over twenty-five years now; firstly as a paying punter, then as a member of the press, as either a photographer or as a member of an editorial team. I would go to custom bike shows, pitch my tent or whatever, leave my valuables inside and wander off to work the weekend safe in the knowledge that when I eventually crawled into my sleeping bag or went back to the stand, all my belongings were exactly where I left them. On the odd occasions I have even left my bike keys in the ignition only to find them (and the bike) still there days later.
Progressing from the bike scene to the tattoo world has been no different; okay, so now I am getting spoilt by having the luxury of a B&B to reside in instead of under canvas, but I still have a lot of expensive camera gear to lug around, and from time to time it gets put down somewhere but I have always gone back to find it safe and sound. It’s the same with artists and traders working tattoo conventions. These guys have lots of very expensive equipment and stock on show, including tattoo machines – including many one-off, hand-built machines, hand-drawn portfolios, paintings and the like - but again, the artists have always been happy to leave this stuff on his or her table knowing it was safe.
I have always felt safe and proud to be part of these close-knit communities and feel an affinity with people who do not conform to society’s stereotypes.
However, as the popularity of tattooing has increased, I have seen an undesirable element emerge. This has been demonstrated by thefts that have taken place at conventions from stallholders, tattooists and those being tattooed.
This is saddening as when I was a lad this sort of thing just didn’t happen, or was very sporadic. The tattooing world is a very trusting and personal one and to think that this sort of thing goes on and could maybe be on the increase is a real shame.
Sadly, I was on the receiving end of another element that aptly demonstrates this malaise. Whilst at a convention recently, I had my drink spiked. Why, where and when is irrelevant; there is no element of blame other than on the person who decided to do this to me.
So we are now sharing our conventions with a wider section of society than we were say, five years ago? Some, not all, of these new show goers may not really be part of our community and may be bringing with them the undesirable elements I have sadly witnessed and experienced.
But what I would like to say is as much as this event ruined my weekend, I was heartened and cheered up by the amount of good friends from within the ‘tattoo family’ that spotted that I was in trouble and rushed to my aid. These people have my sincere thanks; you guys know who you are and again, thank you very much. Even the following day, so many artists and collectors came over especially to ask if I was all right. That really made the whole sorry experience pale into insignificance.
The drug I was ’spiked’ with is called GHB, which can be fatal, especially when mixed with alcohol, so I think my message this issue is to look out for and take care of each other whilst at shows and conventions. So in the words of the great Shaw Taylor from TV’s Police Five; ‘Keep ‘em peeled!”
This experience will not stop me from attending conventions in my capacity as editor of Skin Deep to bring you, the reader, the best coverage of conventions and to tempt you with new and exciting artists from around the tattooing world.
I truly love going to tattoo shows, meeting old and making new friends and having the whole tattoo experience. I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I had
a weekend without going to a show of some sort!
Just on a bit of a positive note, Tattoo Jam is very nearly upon us and the artist list is complete and dripping with international talent for three days of tattooing.
Don’t forget, if you are a tattoo artist and fancy coming along to the ARTIST friDAY to sample all the FREE seminars that we have put on (check the advert for more details), then tickets are available from: www.tattoojam.co.uk The friDAY isn’t just open to those artists working the show.
This day is specifically aimed at all tattooists, as we want to give you guys something back and hopefully you will maybe learn a little something to add to your tattooing arsenal or just come and chill out with other like-minded artists, make new friends or catch up with old ones.