Skin Deep 173

So where have all thetattooists gone? This is a question that I have been asking myself for, oh, close to six months now.

I mean, cast your eyes over the Tattoo Tour section in the back of Skin Deep and you will notice the distinct increase in the number of tattooist vacancies that are appearing. It may not have come to your attention but having the job of editing these job offers, I get to see them all first hand and the increase is quite interesting.

It is very encouraging that business is booming in the tattoo industry and I read somewhere the other day that in the US, tattooing is their biggest growth industry at the moment. Over here in good old ‘Blightly, it is the fifth biggest, so all’s good for tattooing eh?

Or is it? I refered back to my Tattoo Tour pages and perused the masses of jobs offered ads and noticed a bourgeoning trend for tattooists to fill the swelling chairs of studios as a good thing - I think.

There are studios springing up like daisies on a freshly mown lawn all over the country, so there must be the tattooist to fill these shops, so why are so many studios looking for artists?

Many tattooists who have positions in these studios tend to migrate a lot from one studio to another, and this is great for tattooing as it gives us, the customers, access to new guys that previously might have been a little too far away to experience. It’s a bit like a tattoo Circus that comes to town, then moves off to pastures new only to be replaced by other visiting artists, and that is all good in my eyes. Good for quality as they share their knowledge with each other.

Looking at the studios advertising these positions, you will see that many are the high-end and well-respected studios that have been trading for quite a few years. Surely these guys must have masses of tattooists pounding on their doors, all wanting to work alongside some of the UK greats?

Perhaps the empty chairs have been created by the tattooists themselves?

Maybe they are setting their sights high and demanding only the ‘Creme de la Creme’ of tattooists to join their teams? Or maybe the quality of available artists looking for work is not the best, or do all artists on the job market think that flash work is beneath them?

I fully understand that any self-respecting tattoo studio owner wants to fill his or her shop with the best artists they can get; but not everybody wants (or can afford for that matter) that killer, one-off custom tattoo.

There are many folk out there who ‘just want a tattoo’.

The trend seems to be that virtually every tattoo studio will only do ‘custom pieces’ now. What happened to the good old flash studios? I’ve not come across one for ages.

Many, many folk still want to get a tattoo from a sheet of flash and are more than happy to wear their chosen ink with pride. Some are comfortable knowing that there will be more than one other person walking around with the same ink; but they are very happy with this situation.

So are we all in danger of becoming tattoo snobs? 

Who are we; who actively seek to find the best artists in our chosen genre to judge others and their ink?

We at Skin Deep pride ourselves on bringing the readers the ‘best’ tattoos from around the world in the shape of in-depth interviews with artists or extensive coverage from shows far and wide and I put a lot of time and effort into making sure that the tattoos that go in the magazine are the best I can find.

But that is just my opinion. I’m not arrogant enough to think that everyone with a tattoo reads Skin Deep (we are the best selling in the UK, but that would be too much to hope for!) and there are many who wear a single, small tattoo, that are very happy and content with their ink and don’t necessarily know that there is a huge tattoo movement/lifestyle out there.

A couple of issues ago I ran an article on a tattooist who puts out good, honest tattoos and has done for quite some time. I got letters of complaint and was told that this person had: ‘no place in a tattoo magazine’.

Now hold on a minute, the tattooist in question might not set the world on fire but they are always busy, put on clean, solid, well executed designs, have a large customer base and actually have a waiting list, so why should I not showcase this person to those readers who, as I mentioned before, might only want ‘a small something’ done?

So do I have to become a tattoo snob as well?

My job, as I see it, is to educate people on the ins and outs of tattooing, letting people what is out there, whether or not I would personally wear that style of ink. This includes what to look for when going to an artist for your first tattoo and as such each year Skin Deep produces the ‘Virgin’s Guide to Tattoos’ (the next one will be in issue 174 on sale 30th June) and this is always one of our best sellers. It highlights what to look out for when you go to a studio as well as all the other info needed to get your first tattoo spot on first time.

So it is really good news that we, the customer, are demanding a higher quality of work from our chosen studios and artists. But that good news only applies as long as the tattoo snobs don’t kill off the quality flash artists, leaving a big gap in the market to be filled by unregistered tattooists and kitchen scratchers.


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