"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" -Benjamin Franklin

Friday, July 15, 2011


So, I didn't watch 'Tattoo School', big surprise, huh?  I spoke to a friend of mine who did watch it, and he said that he couldn't even come up with the words to describe how disgusted he was with the tattoo community.  That's right, not the show, but the tattoo community, and ya know what, he's right.  I still believe that this show is one of the worst things- actually, THE WORST THING, to have on TV as far as the tattoo industry is concerned, and I'm pretty sure that I have made my opinion of tattoo TV shows in general pretty clear in my previous blog entries, but the truth is, we let this happen.  Tattooers are pissed off now because of this show, but how many of them were pissed off 8 or 10 years ago when this business started going to the dogs?  I know I was.  I know that the people that truly care about tattooing were.  But there are an awful lot of people that don't care about anything as long as they're getting paid.  And, therein lies the problem.  If we really wanna take back the tattoo industry, it's not TLC that we need to go after ,and I know with all the furor about 'Tattoo School' on Facebook lately, that's who ya wanna be mad at.  But, let me tell ya who you should really be mad at.  You should be mad at the guy down the road doing $20 names, you should be mad at the jackass tattooing drunks and underage kids, you should be mad at the douchebag running 'tap-out' specials, but most of all, you should be mad at the scumbags selling supplies to these degenerates.  My friend that I mentioned earlier, that watched the show, told me some of the names of supplies that were visible at the 'tattoo school'.  No, I'm not gonna list 'em, I didn't watch the show, and I don't wanna condemn anyone on somebody else's word (although the somebody else I'm talking about is a pretty fuckin' reliable source).  It's also stuff that many suppliers sell, so in all honesty, the actual producer of said items may not have been the direct seller of the items (no, I'm not sticking up for anyone here).  I do plan on doing my own research, and not supporting suppliers/products that were shown on the show.  I also plan on doing some research and listing any and all suppliers that I find to be selling supplies to people without verification that they work in legitimate shops, and I will stop dealing with those particular suppliers.  Will you do the same?  Some will, most won't.  Why not?  Because it will affect your wallets.  The suppliers that sell to all the shitbags are also the ones whose supplies are the cheapest.  Are you willing to pay more for your supplies in order to try to reclaim the tattoo industry?  Are you willing to take a cut in pay to not support unscrupulous suppliers?  Or, will you continue to deal with them because they sell razors at the best price, or because they move more of your sketchbooks or machines than anyone else?  I personally am going to make a concerted effort to find EVERY supplier that I can that is willing to sell to someone that is not in a legitimate studio and list their names here (and anywhere else I can think of).  It won't be hard, it'll just take some time.  I have a good friend who knows about a supplier that screwed me over and basically stole artwork from me that sells his sketch books through them.  When I asked him why he deals with them knowing what he knows, he said, "They sell A LOT of my books".  That's gotta end.  If we wanna take this back, and I mean REALLY TAKE IT BACK, then that shit HAS GOT TO END.  It may cost you more money to run your business, your sketchbook sales may decrease, you may sell less machines, you may sell less ink, but If you really wanna make a change, then you're also gonna have to make a sacrifice.
Here's something else...stop being so fuckin' nice.  Remember when tattooers hated each other?  I do.  If the guy down the road does shit tattoos, talk as much shit about him as you can.  There's no reason to be nice- Fuck 'Em.  If the dumbass in the next town over from you is running specials, let everyone know that good tattoos aren't cheap and cheap tattoos aren't good.  If ya can run him out of business by talking shit, then talk all the shit you can.  The days of breaking hands and burning down shops are in the past (although, I'm not telling you NOT to do that).  I'm 44 years old, and in my book that's too old to got to jail- never been, don't even wanna visit.  But, I'll tell ya this- if I could get away with breaking hands and burning down shops, I'd be at Quik Trip right now filling up a gas can.
So, sure, boycot the TV shows, but you also need to boycot the scumbag suppliers, and the companies that sell through the scumbag suppliers, and the shitbag down the road that buys from the scumbag suppliers.  Can ya do that?  Can ya prove that you have some real integrity, or are ya more concerned with how much money you can put in your wallet?


  1. Great post, Dave. I've been preaching the same thing for years. Unfortunately, those suppliers who sell to anyone make a ton more money from non-pros than from the professionals, so it doesn't hurt them much at all to lose our business.

    Hell, where I live, we have a well known supply company with a storefront, and the sales people there make more sales in the bar parking lots at night than during business hours. True story.

    In my opinion, the only way to stop all of it is to force law enforcement to do it's job, and stop those people running businesses from their homes without a license. How can we as a group do that, you say? There's strength in numbers, and we ALL deal with the Health Dept in our field. I bet the Health Department would act if they thought they could lose Federal funding. It is, after all, a Federal requirement for Health Departments to act on any item that affects more than 1% of a State's population.

    Statistics show that over the past 10 years, slightly more than 20% of the 18-30 year old population is tattooed. More than enough to meet the requirements. I guess the big question for me is how many licensed tattoo artists are willing to step up to the plate, instead of hoping things will change on their own?

    I think there are several steps that can be taken, but it should boil down to what those who care in our business deem to be the most effective, and the only way that will happen is if we can open lines of communication between those who do care.

  2. Yes there needs to be Licensing in every state and the guy out of his house gets in trouble with the laws for doing so..
    I have been tattooing for 12 years when I moved to Alaska in 07 it took me 8 mos and a test to get my license. Though it was through Hairdressers and Barbers ???(wth) they looked at it like I went to a school had to prove hours and what not. It was brutal,but I got it and was first Licensed tattoo artist on the island. I did really well.
    Then I move to NC a year ago and there are hack scratchers all over and its killing me and I'm trying to keep head above water..I can't compete with hack prices..I don't know how someone can see there work and think its good..wtf poeple. If there were some laws and fines would be a bigger help...

  3. Another perfect example of why tattoo artists are douche bags! Most of the “high line artists” are nothing more than a bunch of fucking blow hards…..boo hoo its called capitalism! This is how our country works if you don't like it you should get the fuck out of mine. You guys do nothing more than bitch. Know your place in the pecking order, you draw pictures!

  4. Hey bradnon- you apparently have some strong opinions on this topic, but that's no reason to be a douche. You could have said what you said without sounding like an ass. I am all for capitalism- it's part of what made America the greatest country in the world (and it's what our commie president is trying to destroy). The fact is that in a capitalistic society, the consumers have every right to choose who they do business with. All I'm suggesting is that tattooers take a stand and stop dealing with unscrupulous suppliers.

  5. You know how I feel about this Dave, and that's exactly why I've turned down every supplier that's ever asked to sell my machines. Sure I can make more money, and hell yes I could use it.......,but not at that price to a craft I love.

    Preach on brother....Dank

  6. this is how i looke at it.....times are changing and fast i did a apprenticeship for a yr in a half before i got to use a machine i think it builds character having go thru all the "shop shit" sweeping, stencils, etc..... and ya you can stop going to those suppliers do you honestly think it will help tho with the excess of being able to buy anything at any given time on the internet it doesnt really affect suppliers as much as you think scratchers will forever and always exist i play in a punk rock band as well and i hate the music scene thats out with a passion its a mockery of what i grew up learning as a drummer but i cant change it i have to deal with it.. i know every tattooer is frustrated with this show but just remember this is yours and many others passion and scratchers and tattoo schooler can never take that away you have a god given talent no matter what no one can take that away from you im only 26 and id rather have lived during the 80s my generation is very ungrateful and appreciative and i am sorry for them im a old soul and i agree with every thing you guys say but honestly its a lost battle people love stupid tv ideas and it sells so your average joe schmo cranking out amazing tattoos in san diego doesnt matter to them even if you get as many people as u want to back you tv sells it suck but just remember no one can take away your own pride and passion NO ONE...... i honestly dont hold this against the whole tattoo community i could never hold it against them that is being somewhat selfish i blame tlc and the lady who started the school to make a joke of what tattooers work so hard for i did a appreticeship and loved it it makes you a better person. those student of that show will never take that from me or take it from anyone else........ u may agree with me or disagree i just wanted to vent thank