Bad Hand Tattoos Make Me Sad…

I’m seeing so many poor hand and finger tattoos online lately. Posted proudly by mediocre tattoo artists of course. I’m convinced that some tattoo artists just have horrible taste. That’s the only thing that would explain pride in poor work. I’m not a huge proponent of “street shop” quality hand tattoos. A hand tattoo is a very complicated job. It should only be attempted by a very experienced tattoo artist. Unfortunately, that advice seems to go out the window often. How about this…If you are going to make that kind of life decision, please go to an artist that is going to create an amazing piece of art on you. People will look at that hand the rest of your life. Like it or not. Get something awesome.

What do you think?

Is it the best or worst time for the tattoo industry?

“ It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period…”
—The opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens 1859
When Dickens wrote those words, did he believe that not much would change in 156 years? Maybe.

In my opinion, the message of that opening monolog is that our surroundings and situations haven’t changed all that much throughout history. Your life is your perspective. Where your mind goes, your life will follow.

Is it the “best of times”? Is it the “worst of times”?

What’s your perspective? Are you making a contribution to the BEST or the WORST of times in your world?

This blog focuses on tattoo artists. How does this message relate to the tattoo “industry”? Are we all part of an industry? Some of us are, and some of us aren’t. How do you know? It’s a good idea to know what the word means.

So…what does industry mean?

1 Canadian industry: manufacturing, production; construction.
2 the publishing industry: business, trade, field, line (of business); informal racket.
3 the kitchen was a hive of industry: activity, busyness, energy, vigor, productiveness; hard work, industriousness, diligence, application, dedication. ANTONYMS inactivity

It’s funny to see industry defined in black and white. Does the word apply to us? Some tattoo artists manufacture things, some produce content, some add value to people’s lives through the act of tattooing. Tattooing is a business for sure, and a trade when passed on in the traditional sense, but unfortunately, a lot of people treat it as an “informal racket” (but hey, that’s in the definition too right?).
When I read definition number 3 I’m filled with pride! Those are the words I would like to exemplify the industry I want to be part of. Active, busy, vigorous, productive, dedicated, hard working…

So what’s going on today with our industry (for lack of a better term)?

It certainly IS the best and worst of times…

The bar is raised by incredible tattoo artists who seem to take to the tools and techniques of the application of tattoos to new heights! Artists who spend their time away from tattooing studying art. Tattoo artists are also becoming painters, sculptors, graphic designers and creative entrepreneurs. This is a new and beautiful trend in our community. People who want to master their craft, and challenge themselves to set artistic goals beyond tattooing alone (not that tattooing alone doesn’t provide a lifetime of challenges).

The basement is lowered by amateurs who create complete garbage, ruin people’s bodies, pass on disease, and unfortunately have unlimited access to equipment and information (none of which seems to help them) like never before in tattoo history. It’s too late to stop that bleeding. Pun intended.

The brackets get wider and wider between the dedicated professionals and the home-spun hacks. The gray area in the middle gets larger too…the mediocre. They may be the worst of all in terms of “contribution” to industry. Quite the opposite in fact. They are the takers. Boring and uninspired. Taking shortcuts and appropriating other artists’ hard work. Discount pricing and “used car” sales tactics. Lowering the value of what we do. Shame on you.

There is an epidemic out there. So many untrained tattoo artists working in professional shops its terrifying. It may even be a bigger issue than the underground “scratcher”. These people are in “legitimate” street shops competing with us for our living. In my area the majority of the artists I compete with were just handed machines by other untrained artists and told to just learn by doing. Only about 10% have been properly trained, and make an effort to pass the traditions down to people they deem to have the most potential. I’ve personally witnessed artists with up to 10 years of experience who don’t even eye loupe their needles for damage. If you are a tattoo artist and you don’t know how to use an eye loupe to check your needles, ask your mentor. If he/she doesn’t know, consider a new mentor. If you don’t have a mentor, get one.

Be a responsible tattoo artist. Be accountable to someone you actually respect.
If that isn’t possible, at least hold YOURSELF accountable.

So, is it the BEST or WORST of times?

It’s all about what you’re thinking, and how it effects what you’re doing.
What is your perspective?

Be the Best!
Keith Ciaramello