Skin Deep 231

Skin Deep 231
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Gremlins. You never know where they’re going to appear.

Last issue, some of you will have noticed—and I know you did because you called, you wrote, you sent texts, thus proving that you guys really do read the mag—that the text from a feature in issue 229 (Judd Ripley) found its way into issue 230 pretending to be an interview with Dave Tevenal. How did such a thing a happen? I have no idea—well I have, but the answer is boring. I discovered the offending article only once it had been published and in this game, once things are on a truck and being delivered around the world, you learn that there’s nothing you can do but apologise and move on.

This is that apology—it won’t happen again. Sorry for taking my eye of the ball for five minutes (I blame Tattoo Jam), big apologies also to Dave Tevenal who will find his interview repeated properly in this issue and also Judd… and to you reader type guys who deserve a proper magazine every month.

I’ll stop now. You can only apologise so much, huh. Nobody likes it when things go wrong but nobody got hurt.

Anyway, I am two days home from Tattoo Jam. It was an absolute monster. Word on the street is that it was likely the best show we have ever done and I can go along with that.

I rode back down to London with Frank LaNatra—it’s always great to travel in your home country with people who have never been out of their own country before. You see things that you otherwise take for granted—like er, sheep and cows out of the window. You might laugh, but I guess there aren’t many sheep hanging out in Miami. Conversely, when I flew out there last year with James, the big deal for him was Wendy’s and Taco Bell.

What I have learnt from this is that Americans appreciate live animals whilst away, and Brits, dead ones.

More importantly though, was that we got a chance to talk about other things that weren’t directly related to tattooing. We talked art, TV, books, architecture, Doctor Who vs Harry Potter, chocolate—you get the picture. Did we buy wands in the Harry Potter store? Yes we did.

For me, it’s further confirmation that to really blow the doors off in an environment that’s so positively competitive, you need to encourage yourself to have influences that aren’t immediately obvious.

Have you ever seen a sheep close up? Ever watched a documentary on how Atlantis disappeared? Studied cave paintings or the inside of an engine? Been to a life drawing class? Smashed up an old iMac to see what’s inside?

I would suggest that being as a lot of tattoo shops/studios (insert your own descriptive word of choice here) still shut on a Monday, that should be the day when you do those things. Life is what’s happening while you’re busy doing other things right?

I’m as guilty of this as anybody, but the one thing I don’t do anymore is dick about on my phone or iPad while on a train journey or waiting for a plane. It’s insular and confining—there’s so much life out there to bring to the table.

That doesn’t just go for tattoo artists either. It also goes for customers. What are you bringing to the party? Challenges that push the boundaries? Ideas and concepts that will push the artists in ways they didn’t know they could be pushed? Or are you about to ask for a repeat of the thing they did a few months back.

Originality. Everybody is capable of delivering it—it’s already out there. Why would you want somebody else’s thing? I find that like somebody telling you that their favourite movie is Jaws IV or that their favourite group is a Killers tribute band.

Down tools, smell the coffee… drink the coffee! To quote the great man himself: “The question isn’t ‘what are we going to do?’ The question is ‘what aren’t we going to do?’”

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