Inkoming - 169

Published: 01 February, 2009 - Featured in Skin Deep 169, February, 2009

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

Freedom Of Expression

Skin Deep

I’ve been into tattoos and tattoo culture for around ten years now and I thought I’d stick keys to board and say my little bit. Basically all I want to say is I LOVE our culture!

I love the fact that even though everyone seems to be on the tattoo bandwagon, I believe it’s still underground enough for it to be ours, ours meaning those who read this magazine, understand it, go to conventions and live it!

All the tattooed, pierced, scarred, branded, wonderful, weird and FREE people out there are living their lives the way they want!

Yes, we occasionally take shit from people. I, like the rest of us, have been stared at, laughed at and judged on my appearance, but I tell you one thing; I look at these people who look at me and I wouldn’t change for the world! I love being me!

And if not being me means I get to follow the rest of the herd, then open the gate and let the wolves in, because I can’t think of anything more depressing than these mindless drones that walk our streets. 

Here’s a perfect example:

I was in my local barber’s the other day and I’m listening to the conversations and one guy is asking if he could have the largest grade on the clippers, because the last time he came in he had a grade 5 and his missus went mental!

Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but this guy went from having to normal haircut to having a…normal haircut. And his missus went mental?

Do not live your lives by what others say you can and can’t do. Half of these clowns are going to come back in the next life as clipboards anyway! And to those who ask the same thing over and over again…”What about when you’re old?” I’ll be more concerned about whether I stink of piss than what tattoos I have. I’m going to live my life because when I’m old I will have LIVED my life. Can the rest of the herd say that?

Peace, Dave


Apprenticeship Issues 

Dear Skin Deep,

I am a monthly reader of Skin Deep and I’ve got to say that you guys are doing a cracking job getting the industry out there for all to see.

I would like to thank Jay J (It Pays To Listen, Issue 168) for highlighting the conflicting advice that is out there on how to get started. I too thought about going for one of the starter kits, however, I did not even get as far as purchasing one due to the negativity and danger that surrounds it.

I also took a job, straight out of college, to support my lifestyle and am glad I did, as I was able to get my own house at 21. My biggest, and probably only, regret is that I did not attend art school or continue any sort of art education after high school, as I did not believe I could make a living from my artistic talent. I am very happy that Jay J managed to find a position that suited him and was wondering if any light can be shed on my current situation?

As I say, I do have artistic talent, according to friends, colleagues, family and my local tattoo artist, and I would like to get started on getting into the industry. I have a gathering of drawing and designs, which have been requested from family, friends and colleagues, but this definitely does not constitute a portfolio.

My local tattoo artist stated that as my drawings were good and he liked me as a person, he would grant me an apprenticeship for £3500. Being a loyal reader of Skin Deep I have come across a few instances where working artists find it an insult for people to be able to pay their way into the industry. I do not wish to question my tattoo artist, as he is a top bloke and would gladly pay for him to impart his knowledge of the trade to me, as it has obviously taken all his sweat and blood to get where he is today, but I do not wish to start my journey on a bad note.

The same guy also stated that I would be good to go within 6 weeks and that I would not touch a machine until the last week. If this would be an acceptable way for me to get started, I will by all means start saving. However, and I realise there will be conflicting opinions on this, I would like to be reassured that I am not wasting my money or time if, once such a short apprenticeship is over, I would be considered a competent tattoo apprentice. Please let me know if this is a good way to get started and also what would be considered a strong portfolio.

Hopefully yours, Bow

Hi Bow, thanks for your letter. We have just had this press release from the TPI for our sister magazine – Tattoo Master ( and it should answer your questions perfectly.

Thanks, Neil

"Since the inception of the TPI, it has become apparent that suitable training for tattooing and piercing is, amongst industry professionals, a seriously contentious and difficult issue. The content and duration of the courses, together with the suitability of the trainer(s), are all areas that have been subject to hours of heated discussion around the committee table, as well as in parliament and council chambers.

Over the past few years we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of ‘fast-track’ tattooing and body piercing courses, but on close inspection of their syllabuses it becomes apparent that to cover all the aspects required thoroughly; the time scales provided are completely unrealistic, wholly irresponsible and border on being downright dangerous. Considering it takes 4 days to complete a proper first aid course, how can a 3 or 4 day piercing or tattooing course possibly cover a broad enough range of topics to allow someone to operate in a suitable manner on the unsuspecting public?

It is imperative that anyone wanting to get into the tattooing and piercing industry should carefully research any studio that they wish to learn at and be wary of people offering short courses for large sums of money. There are far too many unscrupulous tattooists and piercers charging extortionate sums of money for ‘two week courses’ that will ‘guarantee to train you to be a working tattooist or piercer!’ Hell, they’ll even give you a shiny certificate to prove it! The Internet too is littered with numerous short courses or distance learning courses and they should be avoided like the plague. 

The TPI is vigorously opposed to all fast-track training courses and would like to hear from anyone that feels they have been duped by any of these courses.

Contact the TPI Union by phone on 07518629386 or via the website"


Stolen Tattoos

Dear Skin Deep

It has come to my attention that a female tattoo artist, has been using other artists’ photos, to try and get work. 

Some of the artists whose work has been stolen are understandably not very happy.

This really is a bad idea and it is not the first time it’s been done and will certainly not be the last, I’m sure. It is not only unethical but it misleads the shop that needs an artist into thinking that they are getting just the person they need, when in fact, they are not.

It will, of course, quickly become apparent that things aren’t as they appear but it would be nice to never be put in that position in the first place. The other person that loses out is the customer. They go to get their tattoo from that shop with the great reputation & may end up less than happy, through no fault of theirs or the tattoo shop owners. There’s no way that an artist could hold down a job for long using this kind of charade, which leads them to move on and perhaps do the same again and again. 

With any other line of work (e.g. Teaching, NHS, Engineering), a forged CV would be taken as a very serious problem and I do believe that it should be no different in our business. It is virtually impossible to police this, so the only way to help each other is to keep our eyes peeled and if we see a problem, speak out. Don’t let the problem become someone else’s, or the cycle will continue.

Yours, A very disgruntled tattooist


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Skin Deep 169 1 February 2009 169