Horse dicks and tattoo artists

Für die Freunde literarischer Genüße, gibt es nach langer Durststrecke wieder etwas feines für den Gaumen. Sammy Mc X, seines Zeichens ...

Für die Freunde literarischer Genüße, gibt es nach langer Durststrecke wieder etwas feines für den Gaumen. Sammy Mc X, seines Zeichens Künstler, Tätowierer, Misanthrop und irgendwie auch doch Schöngeist, ermöglicht uns Einblicke in das (Innen-)Leben eines Tintedrückers.

Notes from the front

Right now it`s 2 o`clock on a random sunday night and I dragged my sore body here to fulfill the request of a friend to write something – anything - for this blog. The request asked for something about »horse dicks and tattooing« and since I know a little more about my profession than I know about the sexual organs of most animals, this will be about being paid for slamming a needle into other people`s bodies at a rate of about 60 stings a second.

Most of you will know the meme »what other people think I do - what I actually do«. So let`s just start with that:

People still have the idea of tattoo artists being badass Rock ´n´Roll party animals with close connections to the underworld that put random stuff onto sailors, criminals and prostitutes -and every once in a while onto people who enjoy the luxury of skipping out of their social bounds. I guess you got your very own set of stereotypes about us in your mind and being the arrogant dick that I am, I boldly say most of them are wrong. Forget everything you see on TV or you read in magazines (especially tattoo magazines). It`s nothing like this. You don`t just show up at a tattoo parlor, tell the guys what you want and within 15 or so minutes the design will pop up in your skin. Most tattoo artists are of course creative people, but don´t expect them to come up with the perfect design within the first seconds of your very first conversation. We need to know what you want, we need to make up our mind how to make that look good and then remember that we`re doing it on skin, i.e. not everything done on paper can be done with a needle. Furthermore, if it has a meaning to you, that`s fine, but we can`t put the meaning into it. I had people asking me for lettering without even knowing the words it should contain... »DAFUQ?« We can`t tell you what to do, so if its only for the looks it`s fine but don`t expect your tattoo artist to tell you what to put on you for the rest of your life. You have to make your own decisions.

And about the party animal thing, today, a tattooer is probably the silent guy in the corner holding on to his beer for the larger part of the evening, leaving early and not being to crazy. And do him a favor: Don`t talk about what amazing tattoo you plan on getting. It`s his spare time, he is not going to be to happy to talk about work when he just wants to sit back and enjoy a lazy night. If you want an educated opinion and information, go to the fucking parlor. The job of a tattooer is more than being present during the tattoo session, listen to cranked up Metal and smoke a lot. When the parlor is closed, we go home, thinking about designs and placement and when we`re done thinking we start drawing. As I said, it`s 2 am on a Sunday night and what I have done for the last three hours was drawing. My eyes hurt, my back is sore and my girlfriend wasn`t too happy, that I would spend another night at home over books, pens and paper.

There is just such a great tradition in tattooing and I don`t even talk about ritualistic tattoos of the Celts, the native American or Polynesian tribes. I mostly consider the modern western tattoo culture that goes back to the 18th century. If you ink somebody, you should know what you are talking about (unlike the customer). That means hours and hours of research, comparing original designs, trying to do your own version of it, honoring the original without flatly copying it or other tattooers work. I have worked through an entire library of books about tattooing, tattoos, tattoo machines and tattooers and I still have a tough row to hoe. The more you learn, the more you understand that you don`t know shit yet...
In conclusion: Tattooing is not a thing you do because it is just a cool way to connect your hobby with an easy lifestyle. It`s a 24-7 job, a passion you live and eat and breath. I won`t bother you with technical details, but a millimeter is like a mile in the world of tattooing and your brain never stops to try to figure out how to bridge this mile in every direction. So if you think about getting a tattoo try to keep a few things in mind:

1. The people at the parlor of your choice will treat you with as much respect as you give them. Be polite, you enter somebody`s working area, not a club or a bar. As relaxed as the people may appear, they still want to be treated like the decent persons they are.

2. Make up your mind. Bring examples, but don`t expect them to copy them, let them do it their way so both of you have a pleasant time. The tattooer won´t put something on you he doesn`t feel happy with. Every tattoo is like a business card of the guy, so he`ll try everything to make it look good.

3. Don`t try to change every little line he does while sketching. He makes his living doing that, he knows what he`s doing. Minor changes may alter the entire design, as long as your happy with the overall look, don`t bother if this or that line is 2 or 3 mm long!

4. Keep the damn thing clean, goddamn it!

5. Don`t try to fraternize with your tattooer, he may be a nice guy, but even though you share a few intimate hours with him, most likely you won`t get any closer to him, because he needs and wants a certain distance. Especially, don`t try anything like »Oh I`m into metal, too, I loved the last Guano Apes CD«. Just don`t! EVER!

Maybe next time I write something deranged about horse cocks, but for now I hope I was able to give you a little inside in the profession of a tattooer.

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