Skin Deep 240

Skin Deep 240 22 July 2014 240

A few weeks back, I was having a conversation with an artist about how to break out of what they perceived to be a ‘life and art rut’. The work had gotten to be a grind - nothing more than a way of paying the bills and staying afloat - which was not the reason she got into tattooing in the first place at all. Once upon a time, it was a dream-like existence but unless you pay close attention, when your dreams become reality, the actual work attached to the dream can suck the magic out pretty damn fast.

You have to stay focussed and you have to keep building on the dream because if you don’t, when you get there, you’ll find that it doesn’t look an awful lot like the thing you had in your head in the first place. That’s a sad fact about pursuing your dreams - but the opposite is much, much worse.

If you don’t follow your dreams, you’ll probably find yourself working for somebody who did.

Related, but not obviously so, I’ve been thinking about putting a band together again. I tried that once and fell into the hole of it not looking like it should have when I ‘got there’. I figured I might write some songs and see how I shaped up after almost 15 years of not writing anything of the kind. One thing led to another and at some point, I hit the web and decided the twelve string Ibanez could take a backseat for a little while and I would learn how to play a different instrument. Foolishly perhaps, I thought the violin looked pretty damn taxing and when I asked around, was met with a lot of “you’re starting too old”, “it takes a lifetime to master” and “what the hell for”.

All of which made me more determined to get on with it. I’m not as old as I will be tomorrow and I have exactly what everybody else has to make it work - a lifetime. As for the “what the hell for” comment, I say: because it’s there to be done.

In some hands, the violin is a squeaky old whiny piece of shit that I’d love to smash with a hammer. After looking around, I found that in some hands, it’s seriously fucking sexy. I’ve never held a violin in my life and I couldn’t write a song on one for all the money in the world. Not that I could write the sort of song I’d want to listen to on it but that’s not the point. I also don’t like - or maybe that should be ‘don’t understand’ - classical music (which is what it appears to be best at) but eventually, I found a violinist courtesy of YouTube who opened my ears to one single piece that I could listen to all the way through and I fell a little bit deeper in love with the idea.

I don’t know where this road-trip will end. It still might end with a hammer but what it will do is take me down some roads that I wouldn’t normally travel down. I think if you’re even a little bit creative, the secret to staying that way is to challenge yourself with things that are well out of your comfort zone.

Maybe it will all be for nothing but once you’ve been down a new road, you can’t help but come out of the other side without being changed a little bit - and it’s never a bad thing when that happens.

Even if the end result is some kick-ass hammer-action, it’s got to be better than stagnating in a pool of your own juice.


In The Sunday Times last week, I was asked to speak about ‘my own tattoo experience’ as part of a broad piece they were running on the ‘scene’ as they see it. I would like to add a little correction here to what was printed - being as they probably have better things to do this afternoon.

“My first tattoo was a huge tribal pattern that I got after interviewing Motley Crue” is not actually what came out of my mouth. What I actually said was “I first started taking tattooing seriously after being introduced to Paul Booth through the guys in Motley Crue.” Those are two pretty different things. The tribal was not my first - nor the second actually - but it goes to show that if you can misrepresent something which, in the big scheme of things, doesn’t mean anything to anybody, what the hell are we supposed to make of the material that makes it to the front page?

I kind of expected more from them, but I guess it could have been worse.

If you ask me, they need some hammers over in that office.


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