Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2017, buy health insurance

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, health insurance would be it
The long term benefits of health insurance have been proved by doctors
Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
Than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your tattoos, oh, never mind
You will never understand the power
And the beauty of your tattoos until they’ve faded
But trust me, in twenty years
You will look back at photos of your work
And recall in a way you can’t grasp now
How much possibility lay before you
And how fabulous it really looked
Your lines are not as wonky as you imagine…Don’t worry about the future or worry that know that worrying
Is as affective as trying to do dot work with a knife and fork on a rollercoaster
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things
That never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 9 a.m. on some idle Saturday
Do one thing every day that scares you, blend colours
Don’t be mean about other peoples’ tattoos
Don’t put up with people who are mean about yours, stipple
Don’t waste your time on jealousy
Sometimes you win an award, sometimes you don’t
The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself
Remember nice comments you receive on instagram, forget the trolls
If you succeed in doing this, tell me how
Keep your old convention passes, throw away your old bank statements, use really big mags
Be kind to knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone
Maybe you’ll be famous, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll get sponsorships, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll never work a convention, maybe you’ll dance the “Macarena” at your lifetime achievement award
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much
Or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s
Enjoy your body, decorate it every way you can
Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own, bloodline
Even if you have nowhere to do it but on a pound of flesh
Get to know your booth buddy, you never know when they’ll be gone for good
Be nice to other tattooists, they are your best link to your past
And the people most likely to stick with you in the future
Understand that friends come and go
But a precious few, you should hold on to
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
For as the older you get, the more you need the people
You knew when you were young
Live in Birmingham once, but leave before it makes you hard
Live in Catshill once, but leave before it makes you soft
Travel, accept certain inalienable truths
Tattoo prices will rise, artists will philander, you too will get old
And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young
Tattoo Prices were reasonable, artists were noble
And the new school respected the old school
Respect the old school.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you
Maybe you have a studio, maybe you’ll rent a chair
But you’ll never know when either one will end
Don’t mess too much with your teeth or by the time you’re forty
they will look like the window of a jewellery shop
Be careful whose advice you take, but be patient with those who supply it
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
Dusting off old flash sheets, wiping away the nicotine stains,
Blasting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth
But trust me on the health insurance.