Skin Deep 246

Skin Deep 246 7 January 2015 246

It was my birthday last month. My kids tapped me up for early pocket money the day before it so they could buy me something. In the evening, we went to see The Hobbit and went out for eats. £120 lighter by the end of the day, I was left with a large empty Toblerone box and a copy of an old Howard the Duck comic I had pointed out in a second hand bookstore window.

What the hell happened to the rest of the £40 I handed over?!

For those of you yet to enter the eternal punishment of being a parent, this is your future.

I actually like getting older—which is a good thing because there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. God knows what happened to the last 20 years, but still being alive always counts as a success, right?

This looks like my cue to announce that ‘back in the day’ all we had a choice of getting tattooed was whatever was on the flash rack—or if you were lucky, you found a tattooer that could fix up your crappy drawing. But that’s bullshit. That’s verging on saying something like “things used to be much better before…” Before what?

If you haven’t realised it yet, you’re living in the golden age of the tattoo.

To elaborate: when it comes to music, vinyl is the ultimate in the musical experience—it has everything you could possibly need to milk it dry; books made of paper really are the only way to read something that means anything; and TV really was better when there were only three channels because sometimes, too much choice is really not a good thing.

However, tattooing lay under the radar for a long time, and right now, tattooing is coming into its ‘vinyl’ lifespan. It’s gotten red-freaking-hot out there—it’s truly wonderful but kicking in the windows of its golden-fleeced coat of many colours lies a threat.

The compact disc of tattooing, if you will.

It’s called Instagram. Yeah, yeah, everybody is on it, everybody thinks it kicks ass and is the best kisser in the world—if you use it enough you can probably talk it into doing the washing up as well, but if you think it’s the gatefold sleeve of tattooing, you’re barking up the wrong tree. It’s good for business, it’s good for showing what you’re doing, but that’s where it ends.
The tidal wave is too much. I’ve been to the edge and I’ve looked down already. I’ve been to the digital reading place and it left me feeling empty. I’ve committed to thousands of tracks stashed on a hard drive slaved up to a laptop rigged to a set of speakers, moved on to streaming when it got groovy, but all either forced me to do was keep looking for something better. Always looking for the next thing I might find enjoyable as opposed to choosing one single thing and figuring out exactly what it was made of.

Which, if I may be so bold as to challenge the status quo, makes Instagram the cheapest and most disappointing one night stand in the history of pointless pick-ups that come under the heading of ‘regret’.

The reason things were more creative in the Land That Time Forgot is because more of it was created in isolation. People thought for themselves instead of having an osmosis mindset. More people dared to be different because not hearing what other people think about you makes you not care. Do you think Norman Collins would have gotten far with his projects if he had asked everybody what they thought? Or that Frankenstein would have even made it past the first four pages without being hounded out of existence?

I don’t actually have an answer to something that’s possibly only a problem in my own head but, really? We’re putting our faith in the future of tattooing by trusting the click of a heart icon?

I know… just an analogue kinda guy living in a digital world—or, as it says on the front of this Howard the Duck comic, I’m Trapped In A World I Never Made.


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