I am speaking to you from deep within the trenches of this silent war. I reside inside of the tattoo community. I'm deep within the middle ranks of those that have lasted over 10 years in the trade. There is a war between the real traditionalists who are true to their craft and the tattoo rock and roll super star wannabes. This is more of a mentality than it is a style, per se.
What I mean is that there are those of us who love tattooing for its rich history and the purity of the art form and then there are those of us who only care about what tattooing can get them. Some of us are in it purely for the art sake others are here for an ego boost. So with that said here are the reasons the tattoo community hates reality TV, without being too obvious. Plus some great new artists I have come to know about!
- These shows and people who make them are missing the point altogether. Tattooing is counter culture not consumer culture. It's theorized that all counter culture eventually becomes consumer culture. But tattoos aren't like dollar store trinkets that you throw away in a year, made in some Chinese factory. Tattoos are permanent and what makes a tattoo good is it's longevity as the skin is aging.
- They have no idea about the richness of history that is continually being shaped and unearthed regarding tattoo culture nor do they seem to have any genuine interest in it.
- They mindlessly exploit the culture on a whole that most of us in the trenches hold sacred. The culture that we live, love, and have tried to make meaningful contributions to... they're trying to cash in on something they have no clue or concern about!
- They claim to be reality yet at every casting interview you are directed about what to say and how to say it. The footage is directed and edited to suit the purpose of the production first and foremost and the concern is ratings and nothing else. There's no uncovering of a deeper meaning in any of these shows that I have noticed and I have suffered through a few of them hoping for something good to come of it.
- Producers and casting agents don't do their homework. They have hardly any idea about who is or isn't respected in the tattoo community (unless they ask Oliver)... and that's only one perspective. It takes constant research to keep up with that!
- Their main objective is to sensationalize which goes along with ratings again but it makes the whole thing unauthentic. We can tell. Not everyone is a drooling idiot.
- They treat artists like fresh meat. They just riffle though them like a douche bag on a quest to see how many one night stands they can get.
- Tattoo artists aren't actors! So just hire actors and write a good script already! Hire us to draw on the tattoos!
- Be creative and pick a new topic you've already beat this one to DEATH! Do a reality show about a dive bar and the bar flies who go there... anything!
- Tattooing is boring to watch! Unless you're getting a tattoo or doing one it's basically uneventful! Get over it! It's time for a "where are they now," a reunion show, with dream sequence and montages of the highlights of those old shows! If you want to do something exciting pick an artist to follow and see what it's like to be in that persons shoes ... Even then you will probably figure out that all we do is draw and look at books! Unless you pick a "model" with big tits and then we can just watch hours of bouncing tits. No talking please, it's unnecessary! No one wants to hear the word "tattoo" over and over.
The "reality" is that it takes immense dedication, fortitude, time and money to be a tattoo artist or a serious tattoo collector. Most of this is lost in the flashy bullshit you see on these shows. How about a no bullshit TV show? Ever see the movie Network? Give me the raw truth! So I don't mean to be snarky. I'm all for promoting a healthy outlook on our culture but I just feel they are missing the mark a little bit. I can't say I could do better but if I had a million dollar budget I bet I could.
Dawn Cooke is an artist and entrepreneur from the Detroit area. She has been tattooing professionally since 2000 and is part owner of Depot Town Tattoo in Ypsilanti MI and Harlequin Tattoo in Hamtramck MI. Visit her website dawncooke.net