Its the day before New Years Eve. I got a sexy camera for Christmas and I had a thought.
I’m a tattooer from Philadelphia. I’ve been at it for eight years now and I have a decent understanding of the art form. I’m at a turning point in my career where I’m searching for my signature style and success, as opposed to just trying my best to do a solid tattoo every time.
With all the attention that tattooing has gotten over the past several years with “reality” television, bigger conventions, and a million sub par shops dotting the countryside competition is crazy. There’s amazing talent and amazingly bad snake oil salesmen, all trying to get as many clients as they can. Just like me.
On a daily basis I compete for clients. With every person that sits in my chair I do my best to make a real connection/friendship as well as give them a tattoo that exceeds their expectation and satisfies my standard for quality. I need them to return for more tattoos, and to tell all their friends and family that I’m the guy to go to. It’s much more than the actual tattoo. The thing is its not often up to me what that tattoo is, I’m the middle man.
Which brings me to my experiment:
Whenever I dig around online looking for tattoos to admire, I gravitate to those really exceptional tattoos. The kind that make me think I should quit and do something else, because “I’ll never be that good” the top 5%. That’s who I’m chasing, that’s who I’m trying to top or be counted among. I have to remind myself that the tattoo elite didn’t wake up amazing one morning and what I’m seeing their really awesome tattoos after years of dedication; not all the mundane in between. Then I wonder, do they do boring tattoos? Do they do angel wings with 5 names and dates mashed into something that the person is only willing to spend $100 on? I’m curious to see what those look like.
My experiment is to post a tattoo a day and to tell a little story about the person wearing my work. Its not always going to be be nice, some will be unremarkable, some will be great. Some clients I’ll like, and some I’ll dread. Like I said I don’t often get to choose what it is I do or who its on, but I gotta be their friend and do a great job every time. Its about them, not me. I want to document what it is to be a decent work-a-day unknown tattoo artist. I want to show that 70% of what I do isn’t something that will get promoted or end up in the pages of my portfolio.
So starting January 1, 2013 I will be posting a tattoo that I did every day. Obviously I do more that one a day, some days I’ll do none, and I do have days off. In those cases I’ll post a recently done tattoo. I’m also going to remain anonymous. I want to be honest here, honesty might offend some of my clients, this is documentary not promotion.
That’s the gist. I’m excited to see how this evolves.