Let me preface this by saying I’m a post reality show tattooer. I’ve been tattooing for about 5 years which means I learned to tattoo after the tattoo reality crazy hit. This means I’ve had to work hard to separate myself from whats become the problem in tattooing.
Since the reality shows aired, and maybe partially due to other cultural forces of the early 2000’s, theres been a flood of new tattooers, shops, and collectors. For better or worse the people who really care about the industry are forced to “compete” with this influx. Lets ask ourselves “why the sudden interest?”. Well, nowadays anyone with cable can tune into “Miami Ink” and see Chris Garver do an amazing dragon sleeve, then see some drama and pretty colors, and suddenly mainstream America can relate to what they see as tattoo culture. Before you know it, the sheep are being herded by the dozen to be involved in this new lifestyle. Are they seeking out the best and the brightest to adorn their bodies? NO. They’re going to anyone who owns a “gun”, because Miami Ink forgot to mention that Garver has been working hard for years and years so that they can see him do a dragon sleeve in 4 minutes.
This is where my support, or lets just call it “tolerance” of Tattoo School comes in. From what I understand this is a program designed to teach anyone how to tattoo in 2 weeks. Regardless of artistic talent, work ethic, or even common sense, if you have a few thousand bucks, a couple of weeks, and of course a wish, your’e a tattooer! To me this sounds more like a zany comedy than a reality show. But maybe this is what all the ignorant people out in tv land need to see. You cut loose a guy with a skull t-shirt and some kind of alternative looking facial hair, and let him tattoo some equally witted slack-jawed gawker after 2 weeks of education. Sounds to me like a good time. Finally America can see the other end of the spectrum, and maybe realize that the guy down the street isn’t necessarily qualified to execute what few actually can.
The tattoo community has been up in arms about disease control, claiming that 2 weeks isn’t long enough to learn proper sanitation techniques, and that Hep C will run rampant. They’re probably right, but if that isn’t the textbook definition of “Darwinism” I don’t know what is. Didn’t anyone ever see the movie Idiocracy? OK, I couldn’t get through the whole movie but the premise is that the entire world is getting dumber every generation because idiots love breeding. They say its a comedy but I think it’s a documentary sent from the future. Maybe its about time we had some kind of epidemic that only effected dumb people, and it seams like this is our chance!
Actually, I havent seen the show, I only know about it because everyone on the internet is making a big deal out of it. Well, I haven’t seen it but I would’ve known exactly when to tune in because some guy was going around posting on everyones facebook something like “OK guys, Tattoo School is on tonight, but don’t watch it”. Alright, Yogi, I’m going to leave this pic-a-nic basket over here but don’t take it, OK? I wonder if that guy got his check from TLC yet. All joking aside, I think that the stance the tattoo community has on Tattoo School is half out of insecurity. I think some people are afraid all their business is going to be spread out over the new-comers and hacks. Maybe it is, better work harder. And if you’re worried about tattooing being exploited, you should be used to it by now. I’m just fortunate to be involved in something I love, so I can’t complain.
As a relatively new member of the tattoo community I’ve learned that you get out of it what you put in, just like anything in life. If you like the idea of being a tattooer but aren’t willing to work hard, your’e history. Maybe you can surf the wave of tattooing’s temporary popularity, but when this trend peeks your’e going to be up shit creek without a paddle. This whole thing will make us work harder. Look at progressive new series like “Gypsy Gentleman” and “Tattoo Age”, you might have to be in-the-know to see things like that, but thats half the fun. There is so much interesting tattooing happening these days, who has time to worry about the bad stuff. I think for the people who really care about tattooing, it just won’t effect us at all. Thats why I wouldn’t say “boycott TLC”, my stance is more like “TLC… who cares?”.