Skin Deep 228

Skin Deep 228 20 August 2013 228

I’ve just clipped three years driving this ship, which amounts to something like just over 40 magazines, at least 100 articles, seven books, over 70,000 emails, almost the same in road miles and I have two terabyte sized external hard-drives loaded with the work of the world.

So what did I do to deserve the email I got this week that asked if I could recommend a great tattooist “somewhere in the Midlands for a bit of black tribal”? Come to that, what did I do wrong to get the article submission pitch about “tattoos being permanent because not everybody realises that they are”?

Is this how tattoo artists feel when they’ve spent years on their portfolio, taken out everything they did five years ago so that all they’re showing the world is a greatest hits album—only to find that everybody is looking, but nobody is seeing? I guess it is.

Actually, no guessing, I know it is.

The weight of the world is heavy sometimes. Everybody loves to put things in boxes so others can understand where it belongs. Here’s a—particularly shitty—example of what I’m talking about.

Let’s say I have rather a large appreciation for rock music (understatement)—it’s no secret but I really don’t like (never have and never will) Iron Maiden. I would much rather funk it up with some Wild Cherry (Play That Funky Music White Boy) or perhaps Rose Royce’s Car Wash.

Both of those songs would sit pretty high on the tree for me over anything by Iron Maiden. In fact, I would rather have silence than Maiden. Can’t freaking stand ten seconds of them (nothing personal guys, but stating this would cause much disruption if you were trying to catalogue such a thing.

How does that relate to tattooing?

Well, let’s say you have a portfolio stacked to the nines with realism of the highest order and somebody approaches you to do something out of the box. Do you do it or do you send them elsewhere?

I’m not talking ‘clearly beneath you’. I’m talking properly out of the box. Let’s suppose you are that realism artist and Client X (that sounds like a great movie) brings you some kind of mash-up that looks like Xoil and Guy Aitchison have been playing in the gene pool together. Is that your opportunity to send them to the guy who works downtown who can meet their needs or is it your opportunity to stamp your realism skills on something you wouldn’t normally?

I don’t have an answer to this, but I do know that this is how the world appears to move forward in time instead of backwards.

Jesus… what the hell am I trying to say here? It’s one thing to be influenced by somebody—another thing entirely to copy things for no other reason that it sits comfortably in your box.

Might I be so bold as to introduce a new phrase to the tattoo world? If we can have tattoo artists, then we can also have tattoo forgers—and that’s something that all of us have a responsibility to look after. As a client, don’t ask for a copy of something. As an artist, don’t do it—or at least question it. As a magazine (all of us) don’t give it the time of day. It’s a totally individual thing to decide on though. That’s the way the world spins.

It strikes me that if it was a song, it would be called a cover version, if it was a movie, it would be called a remake (or worse, a re-imagining) but when it’s a tattoo, it’s called ‘art’, but most times, it’s nothing like art.

Tattooing has the world at its feet right now. Play that funky music boys and girls… whatever colour you are.


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