Art that adorns the flesh…
We’ve all seen a lot of different tattoo trends throughout the years. If I’m being frank (and I am), they all have a couple of things in common: they all suck and like all trends, they all eventually go the way of the dinosaur. I’ve written pretty extensively on this site about the mere concept of tattoo being seen as a trend and how that concept in itself has got it all wrong. A trend is something that is meant to be brief, something that rises and rises in popularity for a short period of time before ultimately disappearing. Can you therefore think of anything more directly at odds with tattoo than a trend? Nothing permanent should ever be considered a trend and I would be well wary of anyone who tries to convince you otherwise.
Despite this wariness of trends and their relation to tattoo, there is no shortage of people who are perfectly fine with trying to keep up with the impossible task of always staying on top of the latest big thing. The end result is that things go to rather stupid lengths to try and remain unique. The latest of these sorts of endeavours that I have seen comes from India. The city of Gurgaon is currently experiencing a rise in people wanting to get dental tattoos. What exactly is a dental tattoo? It’s pretty straightforward:
Now, I’m hopeful that I’m not alone in thinking that this looks like utter crap. I guess it would depend greatly on who the tattoo artist is that designs the tooth, because going by whoever designed the tooth in the above photo, I’m very far from being convinced that this is a good idea. I guess if it was done by the right people, it could potentially look quite interesting. And I also guess that the best thing about this concept is that it isn’t permanent and can be removed when the bearer gets tired of it. Still, regulating tattoo to a fashion accessory is not at all what tattoo is about. For some people however, this is exactly what tattoo is about. These are also the same people as 23-year old Lakshita who said that tattoos have started to “bore her”. Uh-oh! Sad trombone for you, Lakshita. I guess you’ll just have to keep chasing that elusive thrill of having something that no one else has – for this month, at least.
I’m sure that this will end up growing in popularity and with time and said popularity, it will likely become much more precise. At the very least, the ease of of trends such as this provides people who would otherwise hook themselves up with celtic or barbed wire armbands or ice cream cone neck tattoos with exactly what they crave: the ability to get bored and change things up. Lucky them.
I don’t like to keep addressing the same issues on this blog, so I really try and make a concerted effort to keep things mixed up and different all the time. I guess only you people out there reading this can tell me if I’m succeeding at that or not, but sometimes things pop up repeatedly that just need to be addressed. So with that in mind, you’ll forgive me for going on once again about unlicenced, DIY tattooing.
Make no mistake about it, DIY tattooing is a bad idea. I mean, it’s kind of just beyond bad. It’s a really, really terrible idea. Normally I can just deal with the fact that it exists because anyone who truly loves tattoo is not happy to see DIY morons running rampant and tattooing from their grandmother’s couch. The people who truly love tattoo just keep pushing on, doing what they do. I can get down with that, but I often have trouble biting my tongue when I see something stupid. Today I came across this article from Vice about a place in Colorado that is calling itself No Class. The basic premise around No Class is that a bunch of skaters got together and after smoking weed and drinking beer, decided to start tattooing themselves. This quickly developed into a sort of trasher lounge, where friends and acquaintances come by, hang out and tattoo themselves. The rules are simple: you have to be at least half wasted when you start in on your tattoo and you have to do the tattoo entirely yourself. Beyond that, it’s free of charge for anyone who wants to give it a go. The end results are predictably shit and that’s exactly what the guys at No Class are going for.
Obviously these guys aren’t the only people out there doing this sort of thing. I mean, people buy tattoo machines off the internet all the time and try their hand at giving themselves 4th rate, utter crap tattoos. I think what probably irritates me more than anything about this is Vice giving it coverage as though it’s novel and edgy. Vice has always been a publication that thrives on being contrary. If something is going on out there that is contrary to the norm in a way that most people would object to, Vice is all over it. This concept made Vice kind of gritty and enjoyable about a decade or so ago, but now it all just comes off as what it is: a bunch of boring hipsters, desperate to irritate, shock or otherwise piss people off. Vice’s motto should be “If you think it’s shit, we’re automatically going to think it’s amazing.” So no, Vice, this isn’t cool or interesting or funny. It is the complete antithesis to all that. All crap like this does is encourage other people to do the same thing, thereby adding to the problem of DIY tattoo and worst of all, it ends up perpetuating the stereotype of tattoo being for shitmunchers and trash who take no safety precautions or are otherwise society’s reprobates. It’s a big middle finger to all the great tattooists out there who have elevated tattoo to the genuine art form that it is and it’s even more of a big middle finger to the legitimate artists out there who are working hard every day, trying to get some respect and make their way up in the industry.
The bottom line in all this is that Vice is of course, free to write or report on whatever rubbish that they want to. In the past, Vice has actually featured short documentaries on the best tattoo artists in the world, which were excellent, so I’m not really sure why they thought it would be a good idea to basically diss all those artists in one fell swoop. Oh wait – yes I am sure why: Vice is so edgy.
These guys in Colorado? Whatever, if they want to waste their time picking cat hair off needles and drawing horrible tattoos on their bodies because they have nothing better to do with their lives, there’s nothing I can do about it. I just think it’s even more proof as to why tattoo needs to be regulated. Until it is, real tattooists won’t get the universal respect they deserve. Because when one of these Colorado skaters comes out to the media and says he got some ugly disease off a tattoo machine, it won’t be the DIY trashers or the guy on Ebay who sold it to them who suffer for it, it’ll be the professional industry as a whole… Again.
Okay, so these aren’t actually real tattoos per se, but I’m drawn to this video because I thought it was kind of cool to see a compilation of all the different tattoos that have appeared in film. This list is by no means complete, but it gives you a bit of an idea of how often tattoos have appeared in classic and contemporary cinema. Take a look and see if any of your own favourites are included.
Hello all, hope everyone is doing well and having an excellent summer. Today I’ve got a MASSIVE interview with one of the greatest tattoo artists in the world, Scott Sylvia. Sit back and enjoy it all.
Some of you out there might love Mario Barth’s tattoo work and some of you might hate it. The bottom line however you feel is that Barth has been around for a long time and during this time he’s learned a lot. In this video, he shares a bit of insight into his black and grey shading techniques…
The debate over regulating tattoo has raged on and on for a very long time now. Opinions on the subject are divided, to say the least and I have taken to this blog on numerous occasions to weigh in with my own opinions. In case you haven’t read any of those previous blog posts, I’ll just state right here and now that I am for regulation. I think the art form can benefit from regulation, but only if it’s done properly – and by properly I mean if only the tattooists themselves are listened to and understood as a particular case, not glommed on to other concepts of “health and beauty”.
It seems that the most recent country to weigh in on this debate is New Zealand. The Auckland city council has recently introduced a bylaw that will require all tattoo studios to be licensed. The bylaw doesn’t specifically target tattoo studios, but focuses instead on any commercial services that risk breaking, burning or piercing the skin. Since tattoo falls under this umbrella, it is now required by law to be licensed. Other businesses that are included in this bylaw are tanning clinics as well as hair or nail removal services.
While health ministers and the like are cheering this recent change and while it does indeed have its good points, overall I fear that it likely isn’t a good move for tattooists and their respective places of work. Tattooing is not even in the same stratosphere as hair and nail removal or tanning. This move lumps tattoo in with beautician services and seriously undermines tattoo’s place as a genuine and credible art form. From a health standpoint, it is always good to see laws in place that ensure that those who will be tattooing the public are licensed professionals. However, the needs and requirements of tattooists are nothing like those of beauticians.
If tattoo is going to be regulated and licensed, then it needs to be done properly and separate from all other forms of commercial business. A sub section needs to be created within the health boards of various municipalities and it needs to be staffed by those who are familiar with exactly what it is that tattooists require to do their jobs. This would by no means be a small undertaking, but I feel it is the only way that tattooists could feel that the regulations they face are based on actual understanding of the industry that they work in.
For what it’s worth, moves like those of the Auckland city council are perhaps a step in the right direction, but unfortunately they also serve to show the public that there is a long way to go before tattoo is given the respect and understanding that it surely deserves.