Hi kids! The Five coming back at ya’ with another hair-raising blog from the heart of the Trinity Art Collective! It’s been a helluva heat-wave here in the Old Pueblo, and sometimes people can become downright cantankerous or unwilling to travel to a shop in the hot conditions. Well, these scenarios can present a number of SNAFUs that could be easily avoided. By dint of sweet serendipity, here we offer you, the faithful tattooed masses, an inside look and testimonial from industry professionals that could assist in keeping communication with your intended artist or artists and have you coming out the other side of your experience without a “kick-me” sign…written in your own hand.
We’ve all seen any number of horrible TV, cinema and media examples of Joe Coolguy walking into a tattoo establishment with his chest puffed out and most alpha behaviors on public display. Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones that have seen such things in person…in either case, the scene is an awkward one, usually culminating in someone painting themselves in a less-than-favorable light. Much of this sort of faux-pas is caused by assumptions about how to communicate with your tattoo artist. So, grab your popcorn, because the science is about to be dropped.
Let’s start by stating the obvious…the tattoo biz is NOTHING like it was 40 years ago. From the techniques to the technicians, everything has been evolving. Tattooing, as it happens, is now considered to be a legitimate art form and it’s practitioners are to be regarded as Artists. I’ll tell you from personal experience, someone asking me if I’m “also an artist as well as tattooing” or “what else I do” is an infuriating line of inquiry. To someone who’s been tattooing longer than most of his clients have been off sippy-cups, to even accidentally suggest that this is somehow a hobby or second job is generally insulting. If you get tattooed by someone with a fantastic reputation and impressive body of work, you’re dealing with an artist who likely commits 80 or more hours a week to their craft. Ever heard of an 80 hour part-time position? Neither have I. We tattoo. There are people who tattoo as a hobby or in a part-time capacity, but to be honest, this artist has never seen one worth their salt. Tattooing is a full-time commitment of constant learning and improvement, and you simply can’t juggle that on your off-hours from WalMart. The vanishing “old-guard” of our industry has given way to a new direction.
Words are interesting things, aren’t they? They can incite and they can soothe. Please, if you are reading this and remember no other portion of it, remember this: We do not ‘sling’ anything. We do not ‘tat-down.’ We do not ‘tat.’ We do not do ‘tats.’ We don’t use ‘guns,’ ‘tat-guns’ or any other ‘gun’ for our art. We generally don’t know much about strangers, and therefore cannot provide suggestions for what you might want without knowing you. We can’t give estimates without seeing you physically. We can’t do tattoos over the phone or via email, so it’s probably best to temper your ‘that-guy’s-a-jerk’ outrage and commentary until you’ve figured out that anything less than a physical visit is not going to turn up much information for you. I know, it’s hot out, but putting on your big-girl panties and getting some face time with an artist is part of getting tattooed. In short, suck it up, Buttercup. Nobody’s figured out how to email your tattoo onto your skin yet. I’m sure Amazon’s working on it.
Proper terminology for a machine is…a machine. Have you ever seen a gun with no trigger, bullets or ability to shoot projectiles at lethal rates of velocity? Neither have we, guys. A ‘gun’ or ‘tat-gun’ is the homespun piece of fecal matter that inmates and idiots use to transfer horribly contaminated materials from one person’s bloodstream to the next in the form of hastily designed and poorly executed artwork. With some thought, it makes a small bit of sense, as a firearm and a ‘gun’ both have potentially lethal, and almost always unhealthy effects on the human body. I have personally been correcting people (with little to no success) about this important irritant for 15 years. If you really want someone to be okay with using the term ‘gun’ or ‘tat-gun’ in your process, try stealing a car or committing arson…I hear it’s a great way to get ‘tatted up.’ If you have trouble with words beyond a single syllable, and ‘tattoo’ is just too much of a mouthful for you to squeeze out in one try, you really should practice a bit.
On the subject of the word ‘tat,’ many artists are ready to simply do half of a tattoo and tell you we’re done when we hear that word. If you are only willing to say half of a word, why should anyone else give you more than you request? You will not find many people in reputable shops, nowadays, that have ever been a biker, sailor or convict. Why the sudden impulse to talk like you just got off the ‘yard? We didn’t. Sorry, kids…that one’s a BIG issue to most of us in the industry. Frankly, we hate it. So should you.
“Well, I want something palm-sized.” Andre the Giant had palms that were 7 1/4″ wide. Tyrion Lannister’s palms are probably about 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. Which one are you? Are you measuring by your palm or mine? Is it a big black square or the Mona Lisa? Trust me, folks…you’ll save yourself time and likely your own frustration by actually setting foot in a shop and speaking to an artist. Just remember, we usually don’t know strangers very well, so consider that before you try to convince us to decide your permanent artwork for you. What if I really like My Little Pony, and you don’t? You tell me to ‘do whatever will look good,’ and you’re getting that Pony. Please, please, please, at least have an idea of the subject you want on you FOREVER. Should be common sense, that one…but it just isn’t very common anymore.
I wasn’t going to add this last bit, but I feel too strongly about it to let it slide. You remember where I mentioned we are likely not a biker, sailor or convict? Well, keep that thought close to your heart when speaking to your artist. We are professionals in an extremely demanding and high-pressure field. Simply put for easy consumption, if you’re not OK with me calling you at 3 a.m. to enlist your help in dismembering and disposing of an annoying HOA chairperson, you’ve probably never earned the right to call me Brother. Or Bro. Be respectful, and watch the respect come back to you. Be a douche, and you smell of vinegar forever.
In summation, this was ranting at its finest. Emotionally charged, a little bit rough around the edges. Maybe the forceful version of the message will begin to change things…the nice way hasn’t worked yet. We still love you. We always will. Rant over.