Art that adorns the flesh…
Tattoos are so common place now that most of us (myself included), take for granted how easy it is to get one and have it plainly visible for others to see. For the most part, those of you reading this blog right now don’t live in a society that makes having a tattoo a criminal act. As much of a tendency as I have to write all kinds of stuff on this blog about the injustices that tattooed people face on a day to day basis, we tattooed people actually have the right to get tattooed in the first place without having our lives completely altered. There are numerous societies around the world that say no to its citizenry having tattoos. Some do this out of a strict religious observance, others do it because of what is commonly felt to be a moral superiority over those who deign to be tattooed. In these places, there is no consideration of an individual’s right to be tattooed or of tattoo as a valid art form.
A recent decision by Turkey’s government has now made it illegal for students in all schools to be pierced or tattooed. Students could be punished with reprimands, suspension or expulsion merely for having a tattoo. Other infractions have been added to the no-go list as well, including dyeing one’s hair or growing a beard but nothing is as unreasonable as a student not being permitted to have a tattoo. I’m not talking about denying a student the right to get a tattoo if they want one – which is wrong as well; I’m talking about the extremely shortsighted decision to ban all tattoos from schools without considering the effect that this will have on students who are already tattooed. I mean, what are these kids supposed to do – undergo costly tattoo removal procedures simply because the government decided it was going to stick its nose where it didn’t belong?
For the record, this is not the first time that the Turkish government has issued insane demands to its citizenry. Anyone who is up on their current affairs will know all about the crack down on students and activists two summers ago when the government in Istanbul decided that they wanted to destroy one of the last remaining green spaces in the city in Gezi Park for the creation of a shopping mall. There was massive resistance to this plan and the government used brutal and repressive means to crack down on the protests. I had the good fortune of visiting Turkey last winter and saw first hand the wanton and awful nature of the Turkish government. The Turkish people are kind and friendly people and they do not deserve the current corrupt government they have, lead by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Can you imagine being a student in university and being told that you are no longer allowed to have your tattoo(s)? Neither can I. At present time it is not known how those who already have tattoos are going to be dealt with under this new ban, but if the callousness and general disregard of the Turkish government for its people is any indication, things will not bode well for the already tattooed. All I can say is that I hope this ban is lifted soon and I hope the Turkish people find the freedom that they so desperately need and deserve.
I know that lately I’ve been talking a lot about the issue of employers rejecting potential employees based on tattoos. Yes, it’s something that irks me – to say the least – but I’ve been seeing so much more about it in the news the past few weeks that I’ve had to comment. The last time I wrote about this issue, I thought I was done with it for a while. But I was wrong. (Don’t be shocked, sometimes that happens.) The reason that I am going to bring the issue up one last time (for a while) is that today I came across an op-ed that gave an interesting perspective on the whole issue. Have you ever considered that it’s the worst employers who don’t allow their employees to be tattooed? I’m not talking about what you or I may think of these employers on a personal level. Of course I don’t like employers who don’t allow tattooed employees, but I’ve never actually considered that working for them in general would be a thankless task as a result of their opinion of tattoos.
In this op-ed by journalist Alice Bell, she takes the issue from precisely that angle. Maybe these anti-tattoo employers are just bad overall employers.
I’ve worked in different jobs in different industries, and the harder an employer clung to this out-dated anti-tat attitude the worse it was working for them.
When I worked for a high street games retailer tattoos were positively encouraged, since a lot of the customers had them, and everyone got on together and we had a great laugh! Hooray! This carried over to working at a games magazine.
Journalism isn’t a front facing industry and the company was smart enough to realise that forcing employees to adhere to unnecessary appearance policies would not make said employees more enthused to come to work.
By contrast, two other high street retailers had a strict ‘cover up’ policy, and were infuriating to work for. They had non-existent employee benefits or bonuses, and one in particular seemed to approach retail from approximately 1985.
When you seriously consider this point of view, it does make sense. Obviously, those employers who don’t have any problems with or who actively encourage tattooed employees are progressive, open-minded employers. Naturally these are the type of people that most of us would want to work for. It stands to reason that if your employer can be good to you when it comes to judging you on your abilities rather than your appearance, then they are the type of people who can use logic in dealing with problems that so often pop up in the work place.
I know that lots of people would argue that simply because an employer allows their employees to be tattooed doesn’t mean that they are automatically great to work for, but I really do think it’s a start. Apple is a corporation that tends to treat its employees relatively well (not the ones who work in the manufacturing factories in China – that’s another story altogether) and this I feel, has a lot to do with the fact that Apple understands its employees are young. They are a different generation and many of them have tattoos. The world is changing, the work place is changing. The employers who acknowledge this change and the inherent diversity within it are not only the ones who stand to prosper, but also the ones worth seeking out.
Incase you didn’t know, this weekend London, England plays host to its annual tattoo convention. The convention is huge and is widely hailed as one of the best tattoo conventions in the world. If you’re like me and can’t be there (yet again), you’ll just have to live vicariously through the tweets and photos and videos that will inevitably pop up online. For now, why not take a look at some of what went on at last year’s convention? I know, I know, the host of this video is more than a little irritating, but she does talk to some supremely talented folks. Check it out…
If everything goes right this coming spring, I will be heading to Rob Admiraal’s tattoo studio in Amsterdam and getting tattooed not by Admiraal but by Lina Stigsson. That being said, Rob Admiraal is a phenomenal tattoo artist with a deep appreciation and understanding of Japanese tattoo. In this short documentary, Admiraal journeys to Japan in order to have his outstanding back piece completed. He also travels around Japan, reconnecting with fellow tattoo artists and shedding light on Japanese tattoo in the process. A must watch.
Hey! Hey! Hey! How’s everyone out there doing? I hope you’re all well and today I have a cool little vid for everyone to check out. Even if you consider yourself an expert on tattoo and how the process goes down, this video gives us a little info on how a tattoo machine operates, but better yet, it shows us a tattoo being done very close up and very slowly. So watch and learn, my friends – that means you pros out there too!
By this point, you’d either have to be living in a cave somewhere in a desert or completely devoid of all your senses to not have seen the ice bucket challenge. It’s everywhere. Celebrities and regular Joes alike take the challenge, which is a charitable dousing in ice cold water, for ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease research. Lots of money is being raised for a very serious illness and that is a truly great thing. Not too many people would argue with that, right?
Well, yes and no. Some people are critical of the fact that the challenge uses a lot of water while so many people around the world die each year of thirst and have no access to clean drinkable water. When you consider people sitting in countries with heavily polluted water streams while the rest of the world tosses around clean drinking water for kicks, I can see the point in the criticism. I’m not sure of the exact number of people who die each year from thirst, but you can look it up if you’re so inclined – it’s not that hard to find and I’m trying to swing this back around to tattoo before I lose your attention. Sound good? Perfect.
Anyway, yesterday in my post I happened to mention tattoo, er, enthusiast Matthew Whelan. Matthew is most recently known by his legal name King of Ink Land King Body Art the Extreme Ink-ite and his tattoos are quite extensive. King of Ink (I’m going to just refer to him by this name from now on for the sake of brevity), is one of those aforementioned people who feels that water is a very important life source for human beings and other living things and that the people who are denied it should be considered. And so, instead of taking an ice bucket challenge and dousing himself in water for ALS, King of Ink had a tattoo of an ice bucket inked just below his hairline for the charity Water Aid. He said:
‘“While I have most respect for people donating to charity, Water Aid is a fantastic cause and I’m sure there are many people who struggle to access clean water and would not understand the challenge.’
I personally am of the opinion that any form of charity for any sort of worthy cause is a great and noble thing. King of Ink might take a bit of flack for not taking part in the ice bucket challenge, but he’s branching out and doing something different for a very important cause. His actions are going to open the eyes of many people and for that I think he’s doing something really positive. It would be interesting to see people take up his challenge and begin getting tattoos of ice buckets, but I doubt that is going to happen. At any rate, King of Ink’s own tattooed appearance and confidence to push things in another, interesting direction is a great help for the Water Aid charity. Who knows, maybe his example is just what you’ve been waiting for. Go on out there and get a tattoo and challenge someone else for charity – any charity, whichever one works best for you. Or not…
Either way, well done King Ink!