Skin Deep 185

Sitting in the doctor’s surgery the other day waiting for my turn to go see the quack, I was idly thumbing through the usual castoff magazines and supplements when I came across a new car advert depicting an obvious tattooist (a bloke in a dirty vest with some shakily drawn on tattoos). He was putting the finishing touches to a tattoo across a chap’s back with the word ‘Resplect’. The tag line was “Time for a swift exit?”

To start with I wasn’t too sure what to think. Was this supposed to be funny? (Not really), or did it once again say more about the ad man’s perception of a typical tattooist? Sadly the latter, I guess. Why oh why do all those in the advertising and media game think that both tattooists and therefore tattooed individuals are not only a bit thick (i.e: the obvious ‘typo’ mistake depicted in the advert) but also unable to do or expect a professional job?

The more I thought about it, the more it made my blood boil with the apparent flippancy of the ad company to say that all those that are in the tattooing industry are that flaky; that not only would they be remiss enough to tattoo a design wrongly in the first place, but that they are also so lacking in morals that they would do the tattoo, take the money and run?

Let’s put the boot on the other foot, metaphorically, for a moment shall we? Say the advert depicted a surgeon with a person on the operating table; green sterile cloths covering most of the body except for a square patch of skin where the operation has taken place instruments and bloody swabs littered about the place. You look closer and you can see the obvious shape of a small kidney dish left under the poor person’s skin, where the hapless surgeon had accidentally sewn the article into the patient. 

Would the company still run the same tag line or indeed entertain this notion at all? Let’s face it, many of us have heard of the odd case where people have spent months, even years walking around with various surgical implements inside them; it does happen - mercifully on very few occasions - and likewise, the odd tattooist can make a mistake so neither side is blameless.

So would my new version of the advert go to print? I think not. Why do we have to constantly justify our actions and choices to the uneducated? 

I presume it’s because those in the medical profession are seen as good, clean, upstanding members of the community and tattooists aren’t. Has the tattoo industry ever produced a Crippen or a Shipman? (Okay, maybe it has, but they haven’t been caught so far) Yet more proof tattooists aren’t stupid!

I’m not trying to have a go at the medical profession as they do an incredible job of looking after the sick and needy.

It’s just if these ad people gave tattooists the respect they deserve maybe the stigma of tattooists and tattoos might improve in the eyes of the uneducated. We in the industry have the greatest of respect for the guys and girls that pick up a machine and permanently mark others with their stunning artwork.

I get tired of seeing tattooing picked on. It’s like seeing a loved one coming under attack by bullies & ne’er-do-wells powered by ignorance. The biggest ignorance is the damage they do to an age-old profession and the disrespect they show to people who decide to get inked.

Maybe I’m am getting too worked up by this off the cuff advert and should dismiss it and just take it as the usual ‘oh let’s make a mockery of out of tattooing as it is obviously a shady business’ but in this day and age of supposedly enlightened times, can we not open a magazine or newspaper and see something that actually celebrates this wonderful, artistic and passionate industry that we all love?

One day, maybe...


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