Skin Deep 238

Skin Deep 238 27 May 2014 238

Twenty years of Skin Deep, huh. I wonder if back in 1994 anybody ever considered that one day in the future, the lid would be forced open on Pandora’s Box and all hell would be let loose.

Actually that’s not true. It’s hardly Judgement Day with the tattooed dead walking the earth or anything, but then again...

Look at us now. Old enough to know better and young enough not to care. Back in 1994 - as demonstrated by this image of the very first issue - this ‘large’ shoulder tattoo was considered cover worthy as a great example of what you could get tattooed. It wasn’t until a few years later that I discovered Skin Deep for myself and never in a million years did I imagine I would be driving the car for our twentieth birthday - or the 200th issue actually, which happened a while back - funny how things turn out.

Taking a snapshot of those twenty years, a lot has happened and at the same time not very much has happened.

Somewhere around 2003, I interviewed Paul Booth and then Guy Aitchison for another project entirely. Back then, they were not the giants they are now but I could tell they were going to be. Their work ethic, output and contribution has been astounding - unlike Guns n Roses who finally got their shit together to release one whole album in all that time. You couldn’t get away with that in tattooing - or maybe you could if the 14 tattoos you produced were of the same quality. Actually, if an artist turned up with just 14 bodysuits they had spent twenty years on, I think I would be interested in that in the extreme.

I’ve painted myself into a corner. Shit.

Anyway, I think the biggest change out there is that tattooing is not all that shocking or rebellious anymore and that’s the biggest favour ever done for the art across two decades. It’s now about the art itself, the statement you wish to make to the world and exactly how artist and client can work together to achieve that - at least in our ideal world.

I’ve been driving Skin Deep for four years now - or is it five? That in itself has gone in the blink of an eye too but I have no intention of going anywhere else. Aside from being a hairdresser for Catherine Zeta-Jones, this has to be the best job in the world.

There are rough days - like the ones where the first thing you see in the morning is a message from somebody who loves their new tattoo of Spiderman web-slinging through Manhattan but sadly, in the real world, it looks like a hobbit in an ill-fitting knitted suit but it’s always been that way and probably always will be. It comes with the territory. On the great days, hours at a time can disappear in an instant when you stumble upon an artist that excites you enough to move heaven and earth to parade their work in front of the readership, or a collector turns up and they have done ALL the right things. That’s heart-warming.

Man, I’ve nearly used up all of my word count and haven’t said even a fraction of the things that I wanted to. Let me raise a few flags here and see who salutes and then we can all get on with our lives:

Thanks must first go to Sally who stabilised Skin Deep in the early days before moving on to launch Total Tattoo. Many imagine there is animosity between us but far from it.

There’s always room for quality magazines to sit next to each other on the shelves. I also have to shake the hand of (not buy a drink for) every writer, photographer, tattoo artist and model that has wanted to ride in the car long before I ever walked in the door and naturally, during all the time I’ve been here too.. Without all of you, I’d be much like a king in Game of Thrones - all dressed up and ready to roll but looking out of the window, wondering what the hell was going on outside.

Finally, I’m going to sincerely say thanks to Stuart who owns Jazz Publishing - not because I want his shoes to be shiny and clean (he can clean his own freaking shoes) but in thousands of days gone by, he saw something in Skin Deep and nurtured it into maturity - that takes balls of steel. For all of you whiners and complainers out there, sure, the company made money - but the company that isn’t making money isn’t publishing any magazines either. It’s tough out there.

Mostly though - thanks to you reader type people who have stuck with us, had faith in us, generally have a ball with us and all those other things that sound fucking creepy when I write them down, but if you weren’t out there, we wouldn’t be either.

Life is short. Be cool to each other...


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