Inked AU/NZ – Authentink Article – January 2015
by Kian ‘Horisumi’ Forreal
So 2015, Happy New Year to one and all! Another great year ahead for Authentink Studio… out with the old and in with the new! Cut some dead wood from the shop recently… best thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes its not only what you do have in the shop.. but what you don’t have in the shop, and sometimes that thing is people that are dragging down the staff, the shop and its reputation by not being true to tattooing and honoring the tattoo gods. Those two are now gone from our midst, good riddance.
As many old timers know.. well, anyone tattooing before 2000, haha, that makes a few of us old timers now, lets say as many tattooers know, the old adage of ‘Be good to tattooing, and tattooing will be good to you’ holds so very very true even in this day and age. I’ve seen it with my own eyes time and again and experienced it for over 2 decades in person with my own career. If you exploit tattooing, exploit clients, dishonor your craft, act dishonestly, mess people around, steal.. Anything but be true and good to tattooing, then it will come and bite you in the ass ten fold eventually. Some may scoff at this, that’s fine, good luck in the long run, as everyone gets what they deserve in the end. Its not a religious thing nor is it a karmic thing, its just that tattooing is special and has to be treated like a lady at all times, not a whore to be fucked and abused and shared around. Tattooing has sacred rules that must be followed, we must strive to do the right thing by her at all times, the hard thing, the good thing, the time consuming thing, always… lest we bring her into disrepute as is happening now all the over the goddamned world with this young contingent of people involved with tattooing that just do not give a fuck. If even just a small percentage of artists and clients start to act honorably in their dealings with tattooing, meaning they go to artists that do the right thing and in turn not only get a good tattoo but a good experience then we can get it all back on track eventually and root out the parasites. Hence the preaching all the time, I hope that I can make even the smallest difference to helping the cause.
On a different note, the other day a really funny thought popped into my head as a client walked in the shop with a design printed from the internet, the same design we’d already seen 10 times that week from 10 different random clients, I think it was birds exploding from a feather or a dandelion or something along those lines. Pinterest and Tumblr etc.. are the new walls of ‘flash’ but from your own living room or more likely your phone. Back in the old days you’d come into a shop and pick a design off the wall, you know, like panther #38 or dragon #165.. and you’d get it just like the picture, same size, same colors, the price was clearly marked and you’d just wait your turn and get it done right there and then by the next available artist, Simple right? Not saying it was some idyllic time in tattoo history but that’s how it was when I was growing up and still is in some parts of the world.
And then custom tattooing began and it was a mix of flash and custom drawings for each client, they had the option of a piece off the wall or having an artist draw their design just for them. While a lot of street shops still have walls full of flash sheets, most of them are by the artists working at the shop and are pretty exclusive sheets that are traded amongst artists and not mass produced. Tattoo studios that are private like mine or appointment only, there are some flash sheets on the wall however very few people that come in pick designs from them as they ‘don’t want to be like everyone else’, they decry the idea of picking a design from the wall as ‘tacky’ yet… its totally acceptable to search, copy and download a design from a social media page that many many more thousands of people have already downloaded from and get that tattooed exactly the same. I thought it quite ironic and fascinating at the same time. This obsession with being unique and different and spending minutes on the internet searching your perfect design and getting a tattoo that’s ‘just for me’ has created this legion of young people all sporting the exact same tattoos… the complete opposite of what they were trying to achieve in the first place. I dare say that if you pick a cool piece off the wall of a good tattoo shop you’re more likely to get a cool tattoo drawn by a talented artist that cares about tattooing than tattooing some played out design that is popular on tumblr with pre-teen girls. It just goes to show that sometimes things just come full circle.. the too cool crowd that would never go to Kings Cross and get a panther #38 from a street shop ,as that’s not cool.. would happily get a compass from a pinterest page and co-ordinates of their birth as that’s super original… just makes you laugh to yourself in the shop, I love tattooing so its all good with me, but sometimes everyone just needs to either think for themselves or actually be part of tattoo culture and embrace the history and artwork that real tattooing has to offer.