Hello again dear reader here I am again, your resident International bright young thing. This month, I’m so tired I can hardly think so I’ll feel instead and let you loose inside my head. Welcome to another tale from the naughty step…

As I type I’m gearing up for another year of tattoos, conventions, guest-spots, airports, motorway services etc etc. As I was planning I got to thinking about the year ahead. There are some huge changes happening in the UK, Europe, the US and probably – by extension – the world. I think I’m like most people when I say that I, honestly, have very little idea how these changes are going to affect my world, if at all. It seems to me that we are at the edge of a very important time in human history which may very well be a turbulent and uneasy one. And how does this affect tattooing and tattoo artists you may think?

Well, we artists will be the people charged with documenting these dark days in the artwork we put on our clients. We’ll be the ones giving life to the stories they tell us, that we – in turn – immortalise forever on their skin.

Museums and art galleries will tell the humans in the future how we wish our world was right now, not how it is. Galleries are full of images filtered through the minds of creatives telling only the story they have to tell with their personal viewpoint. Tattoo artists have, for ever, been involved in telling the stories that are given to them to draw. Funny, sad, hopeful, angry. Our tattoos will tell the truth about 21st humans. They are the unfiltered, honest stories of the common man…

Or, at least, they used to be.

Back in the day your tattoo would have had a meaning, it would have been thought about, drawn and finished by a pro and then sold (as flash) to artists. Sheets had meaning and themes and they worked because they were stylistically flawless. But, these days your tattoo could be nothing more than a meme that you saw or one of those ‘internet popular’ designs you found on google. Sure, you’ll convince yourself that you are ‘a guiding light’ so that you can shoehorn a lighthouse or a compass into your tattoo. That’ll sound arty and brainy down the pub wont it? How about a brainy quote on your ribs from Pinterest? or a foxhead woman thing? or a Nandos sleeve?

And it’s not just client ideas that feel like Groundhog Day. If you want to find an exciting artist that is doing anything even slightly groundbreaking don’t bother looking in magazines (sorry Boss! x) or on any of the ‘share’ sites or apps out there because you wont see anything even slightly new or challenging because the current zeitgeist would appear to be ‘let’s just all agree that these are the artists we like, the designs that everyone wants and let’s just keep churning them out until someone cottons on’.

At a time when tattooing could be telling the stories of the problems that face 21st century humans what is it doing? It’s doing nothing more than X-Factor style, race to the bottom, who’s the most average, everybody’s the same, everybody’s award winning, everybody’s famous, vanilla flavoured, magnolia coloured nothing. Actually nothing is an insult to some of the hopelessly unoriginal regurgitated crap that you’ll see. Nothing would actually be saying something interesting.

In an attempt to understand because – honestly – I don’t think it’s all the fault of clients or tattooists. I tried to figure out why we have decided to become less individual when we all love an art form that is ALL ABOUT individuals. Why does everyone want the same tattoos and why do we only show, publish or ‘share’ a select set of designs and motifs from an ‘approved’ set of artists that are exactly the same as every other portfolio, publication & tattoo website? Are we brainwashed? Are we really that unoriginal? Are the lizard people secretly in charge of tattooing? Or the Illuminati?

Or, are we living in a time where standing out and being different is the last thing that anyone wants? Are we so scared of the future that we are finally becoming the future that Orwell predicted in 1984? Are we – by picking the same design as others over and over – just trying to be the same? Safety in numbers, a lack or original thought or 21st century paranoia?

Honestly I’m not sure. All I see is people getting covered in the same old safe, mass-approved, mass-appeal, Ikea-style tattoos when they should be getting something incredible. One thing that I do know is that tattooing has never been healthier, more artistic or better than it is right now and with a little effort you can see the kind of stuff I see all the time. The stuff that makes me incredibly proud to be a part of this amazing art form. So from now on whenever I find one I’m going to share little known artists who do amazing work right here on The Naughty Step.

If you have less than 1000 followers on instagram and would like me to take a look at your portfolio send me a link: talesfromthenaughtystep@gmail.com If I like what I see I’ll share your work. Because we all know that – as long as the Lizard People are in charge – you ain’t getting shared anywhere else!

Stay safe and watch out for the ThoughtPolice…