A Professional Tattoo Artist’s Opinion

A Professional Tattoo Artist’s Opinion

I have worked professionally as a tattoo artist for 7 years. In that time, the face of the industry has been changed by the popularity of ‘Tattoo Television.’ At first, I was like everyone else; entranced by the idea of tattoos as entertainment on the idiot box. As the first season of Miami Ink hit the airwaves, I watched religiously every week, astounded by the idea of my chosen profession as the new popular viewing pleasure for the masses. I watched as they made their first televised ‘mistake,’ and misspelled writing on a clients forearm and thought, ” Wow, I’ve done that!” I watched in wonder as the same frustration that overcomes me with wave after wave of butterflies and fairies that I’m forced to choke down, was mirrored by the boys of Miami Ink. I listened to the stories the people told, and thought, ” That’s just like the stories people tell me,” and felt justified and satisfied that there were others out there suffered for there art and profession just like me. Then came Kat Von D. There would be those that would call her the greatest tattoo artist ever, they would say her portraits were the best thing they’d ever seen on skin. There would be those that would commend her for being a successful female in a male dominated industry and call her a role model for young girls wanting to tattoo. There would be people who loved her so much, they would get her name, her face, or her tattoos, forever engraved on their own skin. I, however, am not one of those people. My associates and I thought that this would be the nail in her coffin. Little did we know, shortly thereafter, the channel on which Miami’s TV show was aired, would offer Kat her own show, which was literally the beginning of the end.

The atmosphere and behavior represented on LA Ink is NOT what life in a tattoo shop is like. I know, because I work at multiple award winning shop everyday. The party party lifestyle portrayed is counter productive to everything we stand for. How can quality be a priority, when artists show up hung over, yelling and screaming battles between the artists is a common occurence, and the ‘owner’ is more concerned with her newest celebrity boy toy than the state of her employees and happiness of her clients. Don’t misunderstand this, Kat is a very accomplished tattoo artist, this is meant to take nothing away from the quality of her work. However, nobody likes a braggart, especially not artists that have helped to build this industry up into what it is today. Image is everything, and in this line of work our image is all we have with the public. LA Ink makes us all look like crybaby divas that live a rockstar lifestyle, party every night, and skateboard in our shops.

We work hard. I start my day at 11:00 after an hour and a half commute, and work til 10:00 followed up with an hour and a half drive home and ending with an hour or so of drawing a night, 4 to 5 days a week, and sometimes on Sundays. I do 4 to 6 tattoos a day and book my appointments out 2 months plus some. We work several conventions a year and have loads of trophies to show for it. We still treat every client with the utmost respect because we are working tattoo artists that love WHAT we do, not the celebrity status it affords us. I’m sure at some point Kat felt the same, but those days are long since gone.

Please, Miss Von D, stop making us all look bad. You’ve done enough damage to the business that built you. Leave it in peace and enjoy your life in Hollywood.

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