The Toucan was a real cool piece to do but difficult to not make it look like a Guinness tattoo.
A few years back I had the idea to infill tribal design tattoos with Burberry. It seems the idea has caught on but with a twist. This is the start of a Burberry clad zombie sleeve on Gareth. Tricky stuff to do but proper fun. I’ll post more as we progress.
Vanitas is a style of painting from the Netherlands circa 1500. It depicted the transience of life and how everything is born to die.
Vanitas has become a style that I am very interested in as most of the images used by this Dutch collective of painters can be found in modern tattooing. The piece above is my interpretation of the style as a morbid black and grey tattoo
It seems to me that more and more tattooers are losing faith in our craft. Not the craft of tattooing itself but the influx of new people getting in to it. Mostly, all for the wrong reasons. Tourist some might say. Turning what I have called before ‘The last great rebel art form’ into a media circus. Like most forms of art, music etc the cool lies within the underground and as soon as this surfaces into mainstream culture it is then set on a path to its demise. It seems to me that whenever the light shines brightly on anything it will begin to decay before your eyes.
With this concept in mind I would like to address a subject that has been grinding my gears for some time now. It is the advent of fan boy pages on social networking sites like Facebook etc. Currently, there are at least three of these pages that I know of and there are probably more that I haven’t seen yet. To name a couple we have The UK Top Tattooists page and another called The Best of British. They are set up by fans of our craft for whatever intention, good or bad but really have no basis in reality at all. One person’s opinion of a very vast wealth of talent doesn’t to me have any bearing on what is good and bad. For sure, there are some undeniably great tattooers on these pages but there are also ten fold who are left out simply because the page organiser hasn’t come across them or has chosen to leave them out for some reason or other. Also a publication by the name of Skin Deep ran a Top 50 Uk tattooers supplement a while back but was careful to leave out certain individuals who are known supporters of other tattoo publications.
This entire farce, to me reminds me of how little relevance there is in any kind of chart or list associated with any art form. Quite often I liken back to the days of Punk Rock when the two major music papers of the time, NME and The Melody Maker would run their weekly top twenty. To get to number one in either of these charts was meaningless unless you were top of both. The readership of both of these papers was quite different in attitude so it all became pointless. The Punks knew this so they had their own fanzines like ‘Sniffing Glue’ that were created by the bands themselves and stuck a prominent middle finger up at the mainstream press. Making it to Top of the Pops certainly spelt the end of Punk for its creators and innovators. It would be a shame to see this happen to tattooing.
The point that I am trying to make is that even though it might seem great to revel in the limelight for a moment or two. Is it really doing anything positive for out craft? I’m sure not and I’m also sure I’m not alone in this thought.
I hear more and more about how tattooers are taking themselves ‘back underground’ so to speak. Not working conventions anymore. Not sending in work to magazines. I have to say that these are two things that inspired me when I first began on this road and it would be a sorry loss if it continues but with an over saturated market of magazines and shows I can see their point.
I myself am concentrating more on a local level. It might be great to look at all the hundreds of fans on your shop page but do these people actually come into your shop to get tattooed. I think not! My shop page is close to reaching a thousand fans. This is a great status symbol for my studio and what I set out to achieve but it certainly isn’t putting food on my family’s table. I’ve had a lot of interest recently from the tattoo press and I have had a lot of my work published in books over the years. So I am no stranger to the tattooing limelight. Please don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of it but I won’t allow it to inflate my ego. Today’s news is tomorrows chip wrapper, as they say.
Some might say that this is all just sour grapes on my part. The why am I being left out concept when others are added. I personally can see nothing to gain from these Top of the Pops style charts except to boost the ego and form a pedestal to fall from, and it’s a long way down. I want no part of it.
I think it’s dangerous to let what we do define us as people instead of us defining our craft. It would be better for us all if the tourists who set up these fan boy pages, for their own recognition and glory as I see it, moved on to the next big thing as will many of the fans on these pages will do as well.
I really would like to see an end to this but I think it will carry on and on. So I’ll finish with a twist on a quote fro The Fight Club ‘Your not how many likes you get!’
There is a five page interview with yours truly in issue 20 of Tattoo Revolution this month. Lots of insight into what I do and loads if pics.
This piece was my entry for the Starboards show at the Liverpool tattoo convention this year. Over seventy tattooers from the UK donated their work to this great show and the charity auction, organized by Chris ‘Fucking’ Jones of Physical Graffiti in Cardiff. The general idea was to combine his love of Star wars and skateboarding.
My piece is of Darth Talen from the extended star wars universe (Dark Horse Comics) and is a mixture of sraycan and stencil and acrylics applied by brush.