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I don’t like to keep addressing the same issues on this blog, so I really try and make a concerted effort to keep things mixed up and different all the time. I guess only you people out there reading this can tell me if I’m succeeding at that or not, but sometimes things pop up repeatedly that just need to be addressed. So with that in mind, you’ll forgive me for going on once again about unlicenced, DIY tattooing.
Make no mistake about it, DIY tattooing is a bad idea. I mean, it’s kind of just beyond bad. It’s a really, really terrible idea. Normally I can just deal with the fact that it exists because anyone who truly loves tattoo is not happy to see DIY morons running rampant and tattooing from their grandmother’s couch. The people who truly love tattoo just keep pushing on, doing what they do. I can get down with that, but I often have trouble biting my tongue when I see something stupid. Today I came across this article from Vice about a place in Colorado that is calling itself No Class. The basic premise around No Class is that a bunch of skaters got together and after smoking weed and drinking beer, decided to start tattooing themselves. This quickly developed into a sort of trasher lounge, where friends and acquaintances come by, hang out and tattoo themselves. The rules are simple: you have to be at least half wasted when you start in on your tattoo and you have to do the tattoo entirely yourself. Beyond that, it’s free of charge for anyone who wants to give it a go. The end results are predictably shit and that’s exactly what the guys at No Class are going for.
Obviously these guys aren’t the only people out there doing this sort of thing. I mean, people buy tattoo machines off the internet all the time and try their hand at giving themselves 4th rate, utter crap tattoos. I think what probably irritates me more than anything about this is Vice giving it coverage as though it’s novel and edgy. Vice has always been a publication that thrives on being contrary. If something is going on out there that is contrary to the norm in a way that most people would object to, Vice is all over it. This concept made Vice kind of gritty and enjoyable about a decade or so ago, but now it all just comes off as what it is: a bunch of boring hipsters, desperate to irritate, shock or otherwise piss people off. Vice’s motto should be “If you think it’s shit, we’re automatically going to think it’s amazing.” So no, Vice, this isn’t cool or interesting or funny. It is the complete antithesis to all that. All crap like this does is encourage other people to do the same thing, thereby adding to the problem of DIY tattoo and worst of all, it ends up perpetuating the stereotype of tattoo being for shitmunchers and trash who take no safety precautions or are otherwise society’s reprobates. It’s a big middle finger to all the great tattooists out there who have elevated tattoo to the genuine art form that it is and it’s even more of a big middle finger to the legitimate artists out there who are working hard every day, trying to get some respect and make their way up in the industry.
The bottom line in all this is that Vice is of course, free to write or report on whatever rubbish that they want to. In the past, Vice has actually featured short documentaries on the best tattoo artists in the world, which were excellent, so I’m not really sure why they thought it would be a good idea to basically diss all those artists in one fell swoop. Oh wait – yes I am sure why: Vice is so edgy.
These guys in Colorado? Whatever, if they want to waste their time picking cat hair off needles and drawing horrible tattoos on their bodies because they have nothing better to do with their lives, there’s nothing I can do about it. I just think it’s even more proof as to why tattoo needs to be regulated. Until it is, real tattooists won’t get the universal respect they deserve. Because when one of these Colorado skaters comes out to the media and says he got some ugly disease off a tattoo machine, it won’t be the DIY trashers or the guy on Ebay who sold it to them who suffer for it, it’ll be the professional industry as a whole… Again.