Tattoo Artist Magazine

By Ollie XXX Lately I've been hearing all sorts of talk about people coming into tattooing and profiting off our industry, without actually being tattooers or being involved in it in any way. After a few years of this, I've come to wonder… Why are we relying on other people? Do we really not have the time to do anything for ourselves anymore? More importantly, how many people involved in tattooing actually know how? Obviously begging the question, should they be involved? A few of my close friends and I sat down a few weeks ago and started questioning this. We've always made most of our own ink, and a few people I know have gotten into making their own needles again. Most of us know how to make a clipcord, or keep a machine running indefinitely (though I'm sure some people might not know where spring stock comes from). I'm not going to get too into how we figured all the other stuff out, so as not to step on the toes of the very few reputable suppliers out there, but all in all, we realized that we don't need other people to keep us afloat. Which makes my lil' survivalist heart pump just a bit harder than usual. I read someone's interview recently, in which this tattooer mentioned that anyone who cannot make their own needles should be dismissed from our industry. Which led me to thinking, a lot of people these days seem to think that laws and regulation will help their dwindling businesses, when all it really does is leads scratchers to get licensed and be viewed by the public as being on the same level as someone reputable. I don't like the law, I don't care too much for regulation of any sort, but if people were going to waste their energy on getting these sorts of things past, shouldn't they just start with needles? I know it's far-fetched to think of outlawing the sale of pre-made, pre-sterilized (in china) needles, but I imagine the number of people tattooing would be cut in half in no time. The truth is that the people who've taken the time to learn how to make them are the ones who once had to do it out of necessity, or the younger tattooers who actually care about learning their craft, inside and out. We saw a similar thing happen with a certain company's pigment powders a few years ago, and it seems like pre-made colors are getting regulated just about everywhere you go now. Every time I hear about another pigment company being faced with laws imposing restrictions, I wonder, what would happen if suddenly they outlawed them all? People like my friends and I who make our own would be fine, I imagine a few select guys making colors (one in Baltimore, and one in Florida) would likely continue to distribute them to people they know and trust, but a lot of people would end up totally fucked. Maybe I'm not giving artists enough credit, but I'm relatively certain that a lot of tattooers wouldn't even be able to figure out where you could get a clipcord sleeve, or what an ink cap really is, if it wasn't for the Walmart-esque supply houses that funnel them to everyone unquestioningly. Our freezer fed generation's mentality has crossed over into tattooing and I'm pretty sure most tattooers out there would rather send a machine back to the builder or buy a new one, than simply figure out and fix the problem. Ink too thick? They just buy another brand. It always shocks me to find out that there are people who've never used a soldering iron before, but I have to think, when I was a kid, most of my toys could be fixed with one…. Well, you know what, now, as a tattooer, most of our toys can once again be repaired with one. (Ollie XXX  is a tattooer and contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine. Ollie can be found at: www.goodoldfashiontattoos.com.)

Written by 24471382 — January 05, 2012

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