Tattoo Master 26

Tattoo Master 26

Recent research showed that by December 2013 there were 2802 million users online, this figure making up 39% of the world’s population. YouTube alone has 100 hours of video uploaded a minute, with 6 billion hours of video watched a month. A quick search on YouTube (less than 5 minutes to be exact) and not only had I found out how to build and tune a tattoo machine, I also could have learnt how to tattoo…courtesy of some very well respected tattoo artists. The database of humanity that makes up the World Wide Web has levelled the information playing field like a swift, hard, kick in the nuts.

In the tattoo days of yore (and to a large extent still recently) the sharing of knowledge based around tattooing was a definite no-go zone. Technical knowledge was sacred and those who held it, respected mystics. Maybe in the past there was a reason for this, but these days, this view is selfish and draconian. As I showed in the opening paragraph, with the advance of modern technology, nothing is secret or sacred anymore. So why is everyone still so caught up in the belief that knowledge should be such a closely guarded secret?

“What about the Rise of Scratchers?” I hear you cry. Well, what about them? Scratchers and ‘outsiders’ have long been a part of tattoo history and we are foolish to think we can stop them now by withholding information. We would be far better off educating the general public about tattooing than wasting our time trying to stop illegal and unethical ‘tattooists’. We would also be far better off sharing information in the hope that these ‘scratchers’ learn to tattoo better and ensuring they are aware of the health and safety aspects of tattooing.

“And what about apprenticeships?” is another cry I hear often. Valuable information should only be passed onto people who have proved their commitment and worth by sticking out an apprenticeship. Yeah, I’m kind of on the fence about this one. In an ideal world I do believe apprenticeships are the way to go…but this isn’t an ideal world. There are some amazing tattoo artists who never served an apprenticeship…and some really shit ones who have.

But I think my biggest issue with this whole belief is that it is slowly killing the rich culture and history of tattooing. As time passes and our tattoo elders pass with it, we are losing valuable knowledge about not only the technical aspects of early tattooing, but also the proud history of tattooing. And for me, this is a sad position to be in. Rather than closing up, we should be sharing and ensuring that this invaluable wealth of information is recorded for ever. This is our history we are creating now and if we are not careful, it might well be lost too.

And finally, to be great at anything, you need to not only know your craft, but you also need to know its history. Well, you don’t have to know its history, but it will make what you do more rewarding if you do.

Knowledge isn’t power, rather, it’s empowering.