Inkoming - 162

Published: 08 August, 2008 - Featured in Skin Deep 162, July, 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

Tattoos Command Respect


Dear Skin Deep

How great it was to read the letter you printed from Alan Cavalera, Al’z Tattooz. I, for my many sins, am a special needs teacher for 12 to 16 year olds that are too dangerous to be allowed in a class with other pupils for one reason or another (they mostly try to kill them or the staff). I’ll bore you with a picture of what they see when we first meet; I’m only a 5ft tatty blonde and a bit on the mature side. When they’ve finished the usual tirade of abuse, I usually take off my jacket and watch them shrink in fear, as I have been an avid collector of tattoos for years. The sight of this ‘blonde bitch’ (a loving term they refer to me by) fills them with dread. 

One of them arrived one day in a very subdued mood and wearing long sleeves. This was ignored for most of the day until he was sniggering with one of the others and made to come clean. This 14 year old is scarred, probably for life, because he and a mate bought a basic kit from eBay and have tattooed each other, and really went for it. So you can imagine my horror when I saw the very large red heart that they have tried to put some sort of design around, with a shaky ‘Mum’ written across the middle. As my ex-partner has worked in the tattoo trade for years, I have some knowledge, and asked him if they had set their needles up properly and changed them, using different sizes for outlines, etc. He hadn’t a clue and even said that they weren’t supplied with many needles and only a few colours, so I didn’t dare ask if they’d used the same ones on each other. 

Obviously this tattoo has bled out and is a mess, but what worries me is that this kid was at real risk from HIV and Hepatitis.

If all of this wasn’t bad enough, he turned up today and some sad, sadistic idiot in an obviously backstreet tattoo shop has pierced the bridge between his eyes. The kid won’t tell us who it was, but the person who did it must have known that he was not old enough, and upon cross-questioning him we found out that the same person is doing small tattoos for first time customers for ten quid, and he wants to go back for some more.

Someone has got to do something about eBay, even if they simply check that it’s an adult buying from them and put a stop to kids abusing themselves like this. As for the idiot who’s tattooing and piercing underage kids…he will be caught because people like him always get greedy and one of the kids will tell soon.  As for me, I’ve told every person in authority that I can because good, decent tattoo shops don’t need to be tarred with the same brush as the odd few idiots that are out there.

Many thanks for reading my moaning rant,



Tattooing From Home 

Dear Skin Deep

Having just bought the recent issue of Skin Deep (which is awesome by the way!) I couldn’t continue reading on after Inkoming without commenting on the letters by Alan Cavalera and Dano & Billy. 

Their letters were telling stories of under age and non-registered artists being able to buy tattooing equipment and supplies. Although I totally agree with everything they said (especially Dano & Billy’s story of the 16 year old!) I just had to say that I am also not a registered artist but I have to purchase my equipment online just to get into the industry.  

I don’t buy my supplies from eBay but there are lots of online stores out there who sell equipment without asking for any tattoo licenses. I was able to purchase my equipment quite easily, which I thought was quite strange because, although I don’t work for a studio, I thought they might ask for some sort of proof of a license. 

The only reason I bought it online is because there is no other way (that I know of) I can get equipment to start practising the trade without a license. 

I’d also like to point out that, unlike the person in Alan’s letter, I do have a good knowledge of sterilisation and the importance of cleaning your equipment properly. I’m 23 years old and would never even think of tattooing someone with unclean needles and tubes! That person obviously didn’t care about that very important side of tattooing, but the point I’m trying to make is that not all people who aren’t registered tattooists are like that. 

I had to get into the industry somehow so I went to my tattoo artist who has done some amazing work. He told me the story of how he got into the industry and so I have followed him. He lets me help out in his studio once a week and I have gained lots of knowledge from him on sterilisation as well as all the other sides of tattooing. 

It was nice to find someone to help me on my way to become a tattooist, as there are not many people like that out there.  

My advice to people who want to be a tattooist and are struggling to find an apprenticeship is to buy your own equipment, not from eBay, and not in kits, and find a good tattooist who is willing to help you out and give advice to you on the things you don’t know. To me sterilisation is one of the most important things to know inside and out, so please don’t overlook it just because you want to get started fast. If you’re serious about doing this as a career, don’t rush into it. 

Alicia Rafferty


eBay Say No Way

Dear Skin Deep

In response to a letter sent to last month’s magazine, eBay.

I have recently met with a representative from eBay and a Member of Parliament to discuss issues such as the illegal sale of copied flash, the illegal sale of second-hand autoclaves without test certificates and of course, the sale of tattoo equipment to all and sundry. The meeting turned out as expected and the TPI were told to mind their own business and keep out of eBay’s. Of course, it was worded more sweetly but the gist of it all was unless they were forced by government to stop the sale of the goods they would not.  They are of the opinion that the VERo system is enough to protect the rights of the artists whose flash is being stolen and that all dodgy flash should be reported so that it is removed. This is just a loophole for them to play to - as far as I am aware, there are no respectable flash artists selling through eBay, therefore it seems likely that all flash on there is being sold illegally. As for the autoclaves, it is stated that all pressure vessels have to be sold with a valid pressure vessel test certificate otherwise it is not valid for use and cannot be seen to be safe. eBay’s response is that they require all second-hand medical equipment to be boxed etc and if they get round to it they will add a filter question to include CE marking and pressure test certification. 

As for the machines they feel that as long as it is legal to do so and probably longer they will continue to sell these goods, They do not care about the detrimental effect on the industry, nor do they care about the possible hepatitis statistics because neither of these affects their bottom line. The point was raised that as long as other companies sell to anyone, why should eBay refuse to do so? This is a chicken and egg scenario; someone has to make the first step. The suppliers in this country need to take a stand and have morals, because they are as bad as eBay if they sell to kitchen wizards and do no background checks on whom they sell equipment to. If eBay were to take the first step would everyone else follow? I doubt it. I reckon most of them would rub their hands with glee at the prospect of a much bigger market share. There are, of course, exceptions to this and these guys must be applauded; Central Tattoo Supplies, Blackheart, and Keystone are the ones that spring immediately to mind. But the sad truth is that unless there is legislation to prevent the sales of equipment getting to the hands of scratchers then our industry will continue to be eaten away. At the moment, a conservative estimate would be that professionals are outnumbered 3 to 1 by scratchers. In no other industry does this imbalance exist, and again the only way to address this is with governmental legislation. The thing is there are several MPs that are taking up this cause (some are pro tattoos, some are not), and if Westminster writes the legislation with little or no consultation then the only people that will suffer will be the people that actually give a shit. With this in mind, the TPI are still trying to prevent such legislation being written and instead guide parliament to write sensible and workable legislation that will protect the industry. If you care about these issues, then get on board. Join the TPI, write to your MP, your local council or your local Health Protection Board. Do something instead of whining about the state of the art. 

I do apologise to those that have heard this rant over and over again. G -


We Must Be Doing Something Right...

Dear Skin Deep

I want to start out by saying that I love your magazine - out of all the wonderful tat ‘zines out there (and for the most part they are all great due to the fact that it is opening up the minds of many), Skin Deep has a lot of personality. I love to read what you lot in the UK have to say and how you say it above all else. The photos of wonderful and good art, with its bold lines and colours, as well as the colourful people displaying them are refreshing to see. I have always had a fascination with tattoos thanks to my grandfather, who sported a few on his arms, and now I find people without any to be plain. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but can’t help but to think that way. I think they are a bit freaky! I feel that I have a right to say that because I find that for the most part it’s true and a little weird. I might be considered weird with my Irezumi type of artwork that I carry and many don’t know about because it is special to me and only a select few are aware of it. Now, I hope you don’t think that I live in shame of my artwork but I have been disliked and ridiculed especially being a woman with tattoos covering the majority of her flesh. Yes, I have even experienced this with men who are artists at tattoo shops, believe it or not. I consider myself to be a well-rounded girl and when people see a bit of colour on me, they are shocked to see that someone like me has more to reveal than an ankle tattoo and I admit I like the shock factor. I like the idea that maybe that one particular person’s mind was broadened a bit. Just like the suit walking down the street has expanded my thinking because that man has a bigger freak inside of him than any of the tattooed people I have come across. Skin Deep is not only the best selling mag in the UK, but also the best. Period.  

Maria Cordeiro


A Response to Aike

Hey Skin Deep

I am writing mainly in response to Akie’s letter in issue 155, as I used to self harm and found that getting a new tattoo or piercing was much prettier, in my opinion. I found that I just liked to cause myself pain so that others could not…it only sounds normal to those that have experienced it themselves, but with tattoos you still get the pain that you crave at the time but not the nasty scars or the terrible looks that you get from people that see them. I’m 24 and currently have 15 tattoos and 8 piercings. I can only imagine what I would look like if there were no tattoo artists - it doesn’t bear thinking about - but this is only my opinion and I don’t want to push my way of thinking about this subject onto others. 

Fantastic magazine, can’t wait for the next issue!

Yours faithfully, 

Tammy-666 x x


Catch 22 

Dear Skin Deep

Regarding the letter sent by Dano & Billy of Eternal Image, in Issue 160 about unregistered home tattooists. To an extent I agree with what they mean, but to want tattoo suppliers not to sell to home artists really angers me! I have been tattooing now for 9 years and got to a standard of technique and cleanliness. I’m better than most pro tattooists in my area, but finding work in shops is really hard with a lack of studio experience (Catch 22). Most artists start off in the home and if they cannot get their hands on good supplies then surely the tattooing world will suffer in the long run? What I say to Dano & Billy is, “Give the home tattooist a chance and let the up-and-coming come, or are you worried that we could be doing better quality work than yourselves?”

R. Croft Home Tattooist


A Little Advice 

Skin Deep, I need your help! 

I have been a big fan of tattoos and body art from afar for as long as I can remember, admiring friends’ and strangers’ pieces of work as I see them. But as of yet I haven’t been inked. I have been planning a tattoo for ages as I want a rather large one done all around my upper arm down to the elbow (the term’s ‘sleeved’ isn’t it?) the only thing is as I am a bit of a newcomer in terms of having them done, I’m a little naive on exactly the service offered by tattoo artists. By this I mean I have some vague ideas and some strong idea of the “theme” of the tattoo I want without having an exact idea. Would an artist give a consultation or such where they would maybe go through certain things in terms of design concept that maybe they could create something with input from myself regarding what sort of thing I want in it? Any help or advice or pointers would be much appreciated.  


P.S if this letter gets in, I’m sorry for any avid “tattooist” that had something valid to say but got squeezed aside for my newbie questions!


From Inside the Industry 

Following a recent letter from one of your readers about scratchers and the suppliers that let them have products, wanted to give a response from our own company. I know there have been many comments about scratchers mainly around the fact that they potentially can damage the industry if they are left unchecked or unchallenged. On the other side there are also discussions about the fact that many top artists today started out this way .The client should also not be discounted, they are generally  discerning enough to decide what studio or artist they feel comfortable with and the hygiene standards of the surroundings they are looking at.

I should also point out that some tattoo conventions do not split trade and public so anyone is able to buy from suppliers. It would be not be practical to expect customers to carry their health registrations with them and even if they did there is no guarantee that person came from that studio.

We do not have an ebay site and we put every effort into ensuring that all our orders are from Health Registered artists. We do this from a moral viewpoint not from a commercial view as we do lose business that we could have had from unregistered individuals. Our role though is not to police the business and I think the industry itself needs to look at how we can maintain and improve the standards in the industry. Other professionals in other markets do this by having qualifications or an association they subscribe to. I know this has been tried in the past but having this would give the clients confidence as well as helping us to promote safe practices.  In addition to this we need to encourage apprenticeship programmes to allow new people to gain experience under proper guidance and not in their bedrooms or garages.  It would also allow us to debate issues such as hygiene standards, ink contents etc.

Doing these things will protect the industry from interfering governments and officials and will ensure the industry does not go underground.  In some countries I have heard of inks being taken off shelves and lots of studios closed down by officials overnight. We can only avoid this by having one voice and ensuring that all artists adhere to the codes of practice and it is important that suppliers and manufacturers have a role to play in this too.

Tony Crane

Barber DTS


Two Sides To a Story

Dear Skin Deep

A few weeks ago I committed the dreaded sin of buying a tattoo kit. I’m heavily tattooed and wanted to learn how to do it for myself. I’ve wanted to for years.

I have a family and work full time so I haven’t got time to do an apprenticeship, so I’m self teaching. 

I’m learning on grapefruits. I won’t be tattooing anybody for a long time. So far I’m doing ok for a beginner, I’ve learnt a lot from tattoo forums. I can set up my machines, ride the needle, and I’ve done a Blood Borne Pathogens course. I’m on a steep learning curve, and for me it’s about art, not making money.

Now the reason I’m telling you all this is because I’m sick of the hypocrisy pumped out by some, but not all of the artists you interview. So many of these guys tell you how they started in a flat tattooing their mates, and when they get to the end of the interview, they’re condemning anybody who tries to do the same!

I don’t think they even realise they’re doing it.

Also, all these demands for the sale of equipment to be regulated is fine for those already accomplished and with their studio set up and their time served, but it’s a free country (just), and the sale of kitchen knives, safety pins, and chainsaws can be bought anywhere.

All my work was carried out by artists who started out from their home, and ended up with a studio, doing quality work.

I personally believe you’ll never stop it, and I don’t want to see anybody getting poisoned by idiots, but it’s not all black and white, cut and dried.

I understand this probably goes against editorial / your magazine’s policy, but in the interests of objectivity it’d be unfair not to put the other side of the coin.

Good magazine.

Mick Newark


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Skin Deep 162 1 July 2008 162