Skin Deep 204

This week, I was in a local HMV. You know, the place that doesn’t really sell music anymore and is surviving in the high street by knocking out cheap DVD box sets. Californication box set for a tenner? Thank you very much…

Anyway, there was this guy in there and he had a full sleeve of ‘blackwork’, but I swear, I would expect to see better work come out of Krasnokamensk – a cushy Russian prison about 3,000 miles from Moscow which is probably even harsher than it sounds. His other arm was not quite so bad, but I suspect it might be by the time it’s finished.

So he comes over and asks if I am me – which of course I am – and asks what I think of it. So I tell him. I tell him it’s probably the worst ‘collection’ I have ever seen and ask him where he got it done. Thankfully he said “his mate did it” because I was dreading him actually naming a studio. When I asked him why, his response was not entirely unexpected I guess: “because I was skint and I really wanted a sleeve.”

Well, he certainly got one. I couldn’t help but reiterate my initial statement and stare in amazement while twisting his arm backwards and forwards repeating stock phrases featuring the names of dodgy biblical figures.

He looked saddened by this and it occurred to me that those who go down this road deserve to live with it. There has been talk, talk and more talk about outlawing cheap kits on eBay, shock-radio, shock-TV, hundreds of column inches in newspapers and so on, but crap kitchen-sink tattooing has been going on for an awfully long time now. I suspect it will go on for an equally long time in the future. No amount of legislation will stop it because if kids want to do it, they will find a way whether that be with a cheap kit or homemade machines built from instructions online.

Is this really the answer? Take the piss, show them some good art and get on with your own life? Maybe it is. Surely, enough time has been wasted pandering to idiots when genuine collectors and artists are running 24/7/365 to show the world what it can really be like. If tattooists were prepared to take a stand and refuse to do a cover up of a kitchen sink hatchet job, then maybe, just maybe, with a little bit of patience, we’d start seeing it slow down. The statement “fuck off you prick” said with the required amount of vitriol can hold a lot of weight you know…

… and the guy had never even heard of Californication! What the hell is the world coming to?


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