Inked AU/NZ – Authentink Article – November 2013
by Kian ‘Horisumi’ Forreal
Bikies, tattoos, organized crime, tattoos, money laundering, tattoos, bikies again, tattoos, toxic tattoo pigments, tattoos, kids ruining their lives, tattoos, hepatitis, tattoos,, ebay kits, tattoos., lifelong regret, tattoos.
For fucks sakes, shut up already. We get it…. The media, the government, the police elite, the uptight, the rich, the powerful, you all hate tattoos and tattooing and want everyone else to as well. Bad news is it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. I’m sorry but tattooing is here to stay. Get used to it. Go ahead and fight your wars against crime, I doubt many tattooed people would be against that, and close the illegal shops, full support again, but brand us all thugs and criminals? Come one… seriously? Myself and my tattoo colleagues are some of the hardest working, legit people you’d ever meet. Passionate, creative and good people.
We’ve all applied for our NSW tattoo licenses, paid extortionate insurance rates to open our doors once we’ve actually found a place that is, after being knocked back by almost every commercial property agent, yet we persevere and try to just make nice tattoos, make a living and fulfil our passion.
I am not one for crying foul as I am well aware that life isn’t ‘fair’, however, the latest onslaught of negative media attention and targeting of tattooers as being synonymous with ‘outlaw motorcycle club gangs’ is a bit much. And then lets add the recent spate of newspaper articles decrying the toxicity of pigments.
Chinese inks notwithstanding, people have been getting tattoos with the exact same pigment for decades. I make my own ink from powders, I know what I am talking about. Some pre-made inks are from powders and some are from dispersions. The dispersion vehicles can be one of the main culprits in ink toxicity providing the initial pigment is a ‘safe’ one, meaning it doesn’t cause any noticeable harm over a long period or poison the tissue or blood. Its pretty fucking safe to state that ALL legitimate tattoo ink manufacturers that create tattoo ink are making certain their pigments are safe for tattoo use, in both the long and short term. Unlike large corporations, most small business people care if their products are doing harm.
That said, very little of what we eat these days is 100% safe, we know that for sure, pesticides, fertilizers, preservatives, additives, colourings, GMO’s, sweeteners, and on and on are poisonous and toxic to us in the long term, and cause endocrine disruption, if I know this, then so does the government, where is the outcry? And think about all the stuff you rub on your skin every day, none of the creams, soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, sunblocks etc are long term tested for toxicity, only short term. There are upwards of 9000 chemicals that we come into intimate contact with on a daily basis.. Less than a dozen have actually been long term tested for toxicity. Unless it’s being directly consumed in your food, no long term testing required. Again, where is the mainstream outcry?
My point of course is that tattooing is the least of your worries. There’s a ton of nasties out there in the other 99.9% of living life outside of tattooing like drinking water, food and beauty supplies, and yet there’s zero statistical or anecdotal evidence that proper tattooing is a health concern but they just love to keep bringing it up and scaring the crap out of people. If there really was a health concern, a threat from tattoo pigments… believe me, you’d know about it. All this is is fear mongering, and its hurting peoples business needlessly.
We need to counter this before It turns into European style regulation here where every single aspect of your tattooing life is controlled, collated and regulated. Now it may be done with good intentions or just misinformed bureaucrats enacting some socialist agenda or even do-gooders trying to save us from ourselves, whatever the case the result is the same. I’ve resigned myself to the licensing and police presence, it may actually clean things up, that remains to be seen, but all this talk of more regulation ‘euro style’, that worries me. We need to push back. We need to take action against the amateurs that are giving us a bad name. The criminal element has already done enough damage to our local tattoo industry and look how we are paying for that, lets not let the home tattooers put the other nails in the coffin of what we love.
Be proactive, if you’re a tattoo collector or fan then support your local professional tattoo artist, pay for your tattoo and get a nice piece of art. Everyone wins that way, you get a nice tattoo with no health risk, and the artist can pay his bills and keep his shop open.
If you’re an illegal amateur tattoo artist and care about tattooing, then stop what you’re doing, try to get into a legitimate shop and make something real out of yourself. You will be caught eventually for either making someone sick, tattooing illegally or pissing off your local professional.
If you work in a shop tattooing but don’t really give a shit about the work you produce and are just doing for the money or to be cool then maybe go find something else to do as you are part of the problem and hurting what a lot of us love. If you don’t love tattooing, then stop.
If you’re a seasoned and established artist that cares about what you do then just keep pumping out awesome work and show people the difference between good work and bad work and hopefully we can make the crap artists either wake up, go broke or quit.
If you’re a young tattoo artist building your skills and are trying to make a name for yourself, then don’t say dumb shit to the media and online about the industry ‘needing more regulation’ or ‘controlling supplies bought online’ or some such misinformed opinion to get your name in the paper, you’re making things worse. You’ve been tattooing for a minute, you can’t see the big picture just yet… trust me on this. Who am I to tell you what to do? No one… I’ve just been doing this a while and I’ve seen the cycles.. and I know what’s coming next for us and I am trying to stop it. Help me do that.