Skin Deep 192

Last week, my girlfriend started a new job. As is usual when you go into a new environment, it takes a little while to get to know what really goes on in people’s lives but I was hardly expecting it to filter over into my editorial. On revealing what I did for a living as part of some kind of “get to know you” conversation in the pub, one of her colleagues sparked with interest as he was really into footballers tattoos and was thinking about getting himself some more ink based on one of these pitch-pieces.

Investigative as ever, she asked him which tattoo magazines he bought and the answer was “none”. When she went to work this morning, she obviously went with a copy of Skin Deep in her bag for him, but that’s really the tip of the iceberg. Here we all are, issue after issue surveying some of the greatest work the world has to offer and there are people looking to their icons from which to source their inspiration. I’ve come a long way from where I started out with the art-form which was a good twenty odd years ago when my own interest was triggered by the Aztec style snakes that Zodiac Mindwarp has up and down his forearms - which is pretty much the same train of thought.

The difference between then and now is that the world is a totally different place. We’re not short on information anymore and tattoos are much more a part of our culture than they were in 1987. Globally, there are more magazines than you can probably read before the next batch come along. TV is on board and - for better or worse - has diffused much of the mystique surrounding the art and it’s not like we’re short on resources for images with internet access and all that has to offer. 

It just made me wonder whether “footballers tattoos” was a genre unto itself now? It is to that guy, but you can substitute the word ‘footballers’ for anything really. I find it odd that a chance conversation opened a door to trains of thought I’d never taken before. For all the research that any journalist undertakes on their chosen subject, it can all be negated by a celebrity who has an audience of millions. I don’t know any footballers and don’t actually like football to be able to comment on whether or not they all sport great work. Beckham aside, I’d be hard pressed to name a single one with ink (or without!), but he’s as fine an example as any – and also good for us because he has quality work.

Anyway - I can’t help feeling cheated by this. This guy should be buying tattoo magazines if he’s thinking of ink. Any tattoo magazine bought occasionally would have made me feel OK about it, but none? I guess time will tell as to whether he gets inked or not, where he sources his material and who he goes to. Maybe by handing over a copy of Skin Deep, I’ve turned him on to something new or at least opened a window on a new horizon.

Then again, maybe that’s the beauty of tattoo art, that however ‘tribal’ you get about it, there’s always another tribe somewhere else doing their own thing with it.

Back Issues