Hello again dear reader. My last couple of pieces have been largely aimed at other tattooists and a couple of the more pressing problems we currently have in our little community. So, this month I thought I’d pull on your coat tail for a change.
I don’t do internet ‘forums’. Haven’t done since I stopped using yayhooray (a design forum) back in about 98. I learnt then that they bug the shit out of me and do more harm than good, especially if you spend a lot of time on them (and I did).
Why? Because forums are like needing to discuss something that is bothering you and having a meeting in the local village hall instead of a chat in the pub and because of that they turn people into the biggest bunch of shouty dickheads ever. Waiving and screaming at the slightest little thing until is major incident that the rest of the world calls Tuesday night.
Communication and information are travelling faster and faster, the world seems to get smaller and smaller everyday and- as a result – this is changing how we communicate. Its was evident to me back then and it’s especially true with today’s obsession with social media networks.
The internet and social media has drastically changed the way people all over the world interact and communicate.
How, you may ask?
Well, we used to be extremely limited in our means to interact with others and we were also limited, largely, to the people that we knew in-person. One of the biggest changes in the way that we can now interact, due to social media networks, is the sheer number of people that we can interact with. Another big change that has occurred is that there is now no filter, on the way we speak to, or about other people and this isn’t always a good thing.
I find that – quite often – opinions are like Religion and penises – fine as long you keep them to yourselves and don’t try to ram them down peoples throats. These days the internet is full of people with opinions.
Twice this year social media/internet forums (call them what you will) and their users have been responsible for reprehensible behaviour when discussing a couple of my good friends. This happened on two of the major sites used by both artists and clients in the UK, ran to well into double figure comments and not a single person (that I can recall) held a digital hand and said ‘excuse me, but isn’t this all bit over-the-top?
Both artists had responded to regular, run of the mill email queries. But, because the initial thread poster (both of them guys) didn’t agree or were unhappy with the reply they – in both cases – felt that it was perfectly ok to post the content of the private email on the forum for everyone to ‘discuss’ Now, other than the fact that (as far as I’m aware) such behaviour is illegal under the data protection act. Neither initial poster had bothered to reply to the artists first. No, they just ran off crying to the fucking internet instead…
As you can tell this kind of behaviour really grinds my gears. Back in the day we used to have a self help group for men with problems like this (it was called the pub) but, sadly, in these days of designer beards and moisturising metro-sexuals (yes, I’m guilty as charged but I still prefer the pub!) it would now appear to be all about ‘sharing’, checking in and updating your mood status rather than actually communicating. Now, that’s bad enough but what happens next is – in my opinion – far worse. It is, of course, also typical of the web. Cue the Dave Navarro’s…
So with 30 tattoos between them (making them all experts and knowledgable enough to discuss the finer points of our noble art) they set about a ‘balanced critic’ of the reply emails – one of which was a (albeit heavy handed) ‘sorry I don’t fancy the project due to the quality of the existing work to which it will have to join onto’ and the other a ‘here’s my process and my prices’ type of reply.
Things quickly descended from ‘how dare they’ to ‘who do they think they are’ to ‘never liked their work anyway’ to school yard name calling that culminated with one of the artists being called a ‘fucking lesbian diva cunt’ – like I said reprehensible behaviour, nice one internets.
Because they simply said something that the original poster didn’t want to hear. That’s why. In the first case the original poster was unhappy that the artist preferred not to connect his work to a badly executed piece and in the second case the original poster was unhappy about the seemingly (in his opinion) restrictive nature of the artists process and the price tag. In both cases the original posters had selected the artist for the quality of their work and would (almost certainly) have been expecting work executed to both artists very high standard so it would surely follow that if the artist had concerns or a slightly different process than they were used to they would understand that this is how the quality of the work is achieved and maintained and having selected them for exactly this reason in the first place gone with it and either picked another spot or started saving. But no, both resorted to ‘flaming’ the artists on the internet instead.
Now, bear with me while I take the long way round to my point…
I watched a documentary recently on watchmaking and it struck me that tattooing is a lot like watchmaking. Its simultaneously a profession, a trade, a craft and an art. It’s also different from a lot of things in modern life as – like a good watch – it’s not disposable.
Artists (like watchmakers) spend years learning, honing and attempting to earn loving from the trade whilst perfecting the craftsmanship and (hopefully) raising it to the level of an art form. They make sacrifices in every area of their lifestyles right from the very beginning in order to chase the fascination and obsession that is tattoo. Nights are spent drawing, days are spent tattooing, holidays are forgotten, dates are missed and loved ones neglected. All in the name of the art. Even when they seem to be living rockstar, jet-setting lifestyles the truth is – quite often – very different. The schedule of an international tattoo artist is punishing and the pressure to deliver relentless. The rewards aren’t – primarily – financial they’re artistic.
Now, I know both the artists mentioned in this piece so I know for sure that they are no different. I also know that they are both warm, passionate and dedicated people who care as deeply as anyone else that I know about their work and giving their clients the very best art they possibly can. That’s why in both cases restrictions must sometimes be put in place to ensure quality. As for the price well, as with any other business, they charge what they feel is fair remuneration. Hey, I love Lamborghinis but I cant afford one. Does that make Ferruccio a lesbian diva cunt too?
For someone who has never even picked up a machine to presume to know a single thing about the level of commitment required to just become a tattooist (nevermind a good one) and to subsequently berate those that do for simply attempting to ensure that their clients get great art by placing necessary restrictions or – god forbid – charging for it is, as far as I’m concerned, quite simply pathetic.
You can buy a watch that will tell time for about a tenner or you could buy a George Daniels for £1.3m both are watches to the layman. But to the watchmaker…
Neither of the forum threads got a reply from the artists concerned – they learnt early on not to ‘feed the trolls’ and simply have to stand back, with no right to reply and watch the Dave Navarro’s with their 30 combined tattoos enlighten them with their ‘Miami Ink box set’ wisdom.
So, in closing, please – the next time you’re on a forum reading the tattoo musings of @davenavarrosgoatee1973 just remember he’s just a sadsack aint-never-been muggle who wanted to be a wizard but is bitter because he never got his letter to attend Hogwarts. Just ignore him, he’s got nothing to do with tattooing. If you want to know about the magic, ask a wizard.
I leave you with a final thought my favourite toy cowboy –
‘From now on you must take good care. Because if you don’t, we’ll find out, So play nice…’