Tattoo Master 08

Tattoo Master 08

This is a trade publication and so this must be a studio where you are working.

I’m in a state of shock. An adult discussion has taken place on Big Tattoo Planet whereby points have been made eloquently and calmly. So, what caused such mature behaviour amongst the inhabitants? The question of why there is such a lack (or a perceived lack, on behalf of the thread starter) of world class tattoo talent in the UK. Just for the sake of posterity, I’m playing the role of Devil’s advocate in all of this.

There were a number of noteworthy points raised over the ensuing pages of debate as individuals pointed out numerous factors that could hamper UK-based artists: the ‘line, shade, colour, done’ mentality of the established order; the reluctance of art institutions to recognise the validity of tattooing as a medium; the advent of seminars…variables: don’t you just love them?

In my opinion, the lynchpin of the discourse was this: artists emerging from the old Eastern Bloc don’t have the traditional tattoo mentality engrained into their culture that the UK does. You could even go so far as to argue that the young bloods of tattooing are institutionalised in the same manner that many art students are upon collecting their certificates, although upcoming tattoo artists needn’t justify how an installation comprised of a garden gnome fellating a mummified goat surrounded by vomit is a thoughtful commentary on social decline to complete an apprenticeship…

To return from my slight digression, it would appear that the next generation of artists from foreign shores approach a tattoo as they would any other medium, and in doing so, they have freed themselves of any conventional restrictions or rules. Perhaps this oversimplifies the progress our new breed has made, but the liberty afforded by taking an unorthodox stance and loosing an outpouring of artistic expression to fulfil a brief that a client insists upon is a potent fuel.

Th e issue of whether it is successful or not as a tattoo can be set aside to some extent because this is unchartered territory; we’ve yet to see how realistic work with subtle tones and gradations present themselves after twenty years’ wear and tear. Taking educated risks is one of the foundation stones of progress and breaking away from the established order is a catalyst to tattooing’s development.

Freedom of expression considered, perhaps the brightest flame that yet flickers has been lit by the adoption of Bauhaus influences (forgive me for using trite art terminology: I promise it’s going somewhere). The landscape of tattooing has drastically altered and we boast an international community of tattooists who are eager to share ideas. There are now seminars, DVDs and books galore from many of the world’s greatest ink smiths - they are literally selling the secrets to their success and offering to help other artists improve their skills. Could anyone have foreseen such a shift, fifteen, even ten years ago?

The perfect candidate, as it were, would appear to need a combination of a liberated approach, a burning desire to innovate, and to be receptive to fresh input and nonconventional suggestions. After all, old school tattooing was once a radical concept…

Bon appétit,