Inkoming - 159

Published: 05 May, 2008 - Featured in Skin Deep 159, April, 2008

Air your views or have a rant and we’ll give one letter a free, yes free, t-shirt! Aren’t we nice?

Winning Letter

Silva Tongue backlash

Dear Skin Deep,

I’ve just received Issue 158 in the post, and was moved to write to your excellent magazine for the first time, almost inevitably, by the interview with Gray Silva. Like him I too live in Nottingham, and always wondered why the lack of tattoo parlours there, and unfortunately now I know. However, for the most part I was mightily impressed; he is a clever and obviously passionate guy who I found myself agreeing with on most things, such as his views on how reality shows have affected the general public’s view of the industry unrealistically, how passionate he is in developing a unique style of his own rather than replicating existing styles, and the way he doesn’t suffer fools gladly when treating difficult or ignorant customers.

However, I was particularly irked by one particular comment that explains the lack of quality tattoo shops in Nottingham; 

“We know there are several ways the tattooists in the UK keep the number of artists low, and although I’d never advocate these sometimes barbaric methods it does help to keep quality high in most cases. It’s unfortunate but that s the way it is Luckily (?) in Notts we have a couple of influential businessmen that became involved in the industry, (Hi Guys).”

Since then not many (ANY) tattoo studios have opened up. I find this attitude utterly repugnant, and was appalled that Skin Deep let this comment fly without any kind of censure (so in effect condoning it). Nothing justifies violence and intimidation against prospective artists, whoever they are and whatever their abilities. Even if the knock-on effect is improved standards of quality and hygiene, the cause is too repulsive to ever justify. Gray may say ‘I’d never advocate’, but his hypocrisy is evident a few lines later when he gives a shout out to his buds. Most Nottingham residents would instantly know who the ‘Hi Guys’ was aimed at, as well as how these people became involved in the industry, an industry that Skin Deep’s editorial points out is flourishing despite the economic decline, and you would have to be an idiot to believe it’s because they share Gray’s progressive views on art.

I see little difference between Gray’s arcane view of violently policing the tattoo industry and the Daily Mail-style nanny state agenda. He uses two main arguments for justification - quality and hygiene. With the former, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. If Joe Public wants to get the cheapest version of a design from a cack-handed scratcher, more fool them. Obviously artists should attempt to influence clients to get the best work of art possible, but let’s not forget that great tattoo works and artists are fully available on the web and in tattoo magazines. The literature and the good advice is out there, but if someone chooses to ignore it then that is their prerogative. I think the violent approach makes a negligible affect on quality. I don’t recall ever walking through the Victoria Shopping Centre and seeing it full of Suicide Girls clad in oriental bodysuits, but seem to see more than a few single mother Kappa Slappers with DARRON! or ROOL BRITANYA! scrawled on their leathery nuclear-orange skin. It seems to me that the real effect of keeping artists out of Nottingham is to give Rampant Ink somewhat of a monopoly on quality work. I certainly can’t think of many other big cities with such a depth of good artists, and I doubt it’s a happy coincidence. Funny, that. 

As for the issue of hygiene, that’s a problem that should be dealt with by Local Health Authorities, not the Charles Bronson treatment. Gray Silva is obviously a good artist, but the implied approval of threats and intimidation leaves a bad taste in the mouth and commands zero respect; I wouldn’t go near Rampant Ink for love nor money, and would rather take my business to the better and respect-worthy artists of Birmingham, Sheffield, Derby and beyond. 


Hi Patrick,

Thank you very much for your letter about Gray Silva’s article. As you will have gathered he is a very passionate and outspoken about his chosen industry. 

I personally and as editor of Skin Deep do not in any way condone violence of any sort either, but I left the comments in as I like the readers of the magazine to form their own opinions of the artists interviewed. I also feel some of Gray’s comments were touched with a hint of irony.

Sometimes the opinions are controversial and not to everyone’s liking but I also feel that my job is to bring an honest article and not to censor things too much.

Freedom of speech should be a right even if it ruffles a few feathers from time to time but again I do not agree with violence at all.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me as this is an issue that I will in the future, keep a closer eye on.

All the best, Neil - Editor.



Hi Skin Deep, 

I just wanted to write and say how much I love reading your magazine. I like reading about the different ways each tattooist has come into the business. I recently have just done a weeks work experience at a tattoo and piercing studio. I may only be 15 and people say it is a phase I am going through, but to become a tattoo artist is my dream. I have always been interested in tattoos from a young age, and in my spare time I’m always researching artists, reading Skin Deep, and just drawing. I just wanted to say that this magazine can help young people like me get an idea about tattooing, as after reading this I have realised that a lot of work goes into becoming a tattoo artist and it takes a lot to be discovered.

Yours, Louise Lang-Field


New Ink, New Life

Dear Skin Deep

In reply to the letter in SD 157 entitled ‘Therapeutic Tattoos’.

I am 50 and I have just had my first tattoo started. This is a memorial tattoo dedicated to my late wife, who recently and suddenly passed away just 12 days into her 47th year. This has had a devastating effect on my life and I had been very suicidal since it happened. Planning and starting my memorial tattoo has given me new life and purpose and it has been a huge help in my grieving process. The adrenalin rush after the first three hours of tattooing and having her image on my shoulder was amazing and it feels the right thing to do, giving me great comfort. She was a very special lady and although I will never forget her, I now have something that is part of me that I look at every day and know she is still with me. I no longer feel suicidal.

Tattooing has changed my life for the better, and I am now planning more tattoos. Addictive, aren’t they?

I’d like to extend great thanks to Steve Mitchell at Sacred Symbols in Chippenham for his understanding, help and of course, his tattoo skills. 

Yours sincerely,

Simon Griffiths


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Skin Deep 159 1 April 2008 159