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Regrets…I’ve had a few…
Hey, who hasn’t had regrets at one point or another in their life? I guess it’s only natural. Yet somehow, it seems like there are certain people who shouldn’t have regrets when it comes to their careers and the work that they do. Doctors, lawyers, guys who work at bungee jump places and believe it or not, tattoo artists.
This is all of course, just a matter of my opinion. I do think that however, that a tattoo artist should always be in control of their environment as well as how they operate within that environment. I have much respect for tattooists who don’t take any shit, tattooists who once you’ve stepped into their world are for the most part, calling the shots. Sure, a tattooist is responsible for tattooing what the customer wants, where the customer wants, when the customer wants. But what about the case of rapper Gucci Mane, who last week had an ice cream cone tattoo done on his right cheek? Mane has obvious mental health issues, having been released from a mental health institute just before getting his latest tattoo from Atlanta based tattooist Shane Willoughby at Willoughby’s Tenth Street Tattoo. Is this irresponsible work on the part of Willoughby?
Look, I’m not trying to point fingers or suggest that Willoughby is a bad tattooist. I’m just trying to understand where the line should be drawn when it comes to tattooing. I’ve known tattooists who will tattoo anything on anyone, even if they’re drunk. At the same time, I’ve known others who won’t tattoo anyone who has been drinking. Is one more responsible than the other or is it simply a different manner of working?
‘”I was [hesitant] like ‘Are you sure you want to put that much [ink] in that area?,’” said Willoughby. “He came straight to the counter and that’s where he pointed.” The artist also assured people Gucci was sober. ”I won’t tattoo anybody if their [drunk] or high because I can’t stand the smell of weed… [Gucci] seemed completely sober. He knew what he was doing.”‘
Despite believing that Mane was sober, is that enough? I think there’s a difference between knowing what a customer wants and giving it to them and giving a mentally ill customer a tattoo. Is there the possibility that Willoughby gave Mane his ice cream tattoo because of Mane’s celebrity status? Perhaps. But in the end, I do believe that Willoughby was just trying to do his job. Unfortunately, I also believe that he made the wrong call when he agreed to do Mane’s tattoo.
Should tattooists take more accountability for the tattoo work they do? Normally I would say no, that it’s up to the customer and entirely the customer’s responsibility. Yet when the mental status of the customer is questionable, I think that an artist has a certain moral responsibility to uphold.
‘Many readers questioned if Mane will regret this tattoo down the line, he certainly didn’t immediately after. “He was stoked. Had no regrets… was jumping up and down. That’s the way he rolls,” said the Tenth Street Tattoo owner. ”I don’t think I’ll ever do [that] again… no matter how successful [the celebrity],” he added.’
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