Photo taken from the real London Tattoo Convention by EPA, posted on The Telegraph.
I often use the term "tattoo community," and just as often, I get called on it. Is there a true community today when the explosive popularity of the art form has brought in so many who come to it, not out of passion, but for cashing in?
In the past few days, I've seen action that answers this question, and that answer is resoundingly Yes. It's action with the stated goal to protect this community from corporations wanting to take a piece of the profits from those who have dedicated their personal and professional lives to tattooing before the onslaught of pop culture "tattoo cool."
We last saw this movement in July with the efforts to boycott TLC's "Tattoo School" program, a show that made it seem that anyone can be a tattooist within two short weeks.
This weekend, the focus has been on boycotting tattoo convention companies and media outlets seeking to ride the coat tails of well established and successful events; specifically, it's a movement against the planned The Great British Tattoo Show, which would take place months before one of the world's best conventions, Miki Vialetto's The International London Tattoo Convention.
Michelle Myles of DareDevil & Fun City Tattoo studios has the details on her wonderful Devil City Press Blog. Here's an excerpt:
The Great British Tattoo Show is being billed as "A brand new show with a brand new vibe.....world-class artists.... blah blah blah.... yet another first for the UK tattoo industry.....blah blah blah..." As tattooing has gotten more popular more people have looked towards our industry to make a quick dollar. People who have no concern or love of tattooing only look for ways to exploit the tattoo industry and the success that's been created by others before them. After the first London Tattoo convention this person organized "Tattoo Jam" a show one month before the London show less than 100 miles away. He then went on to set up "Tattoo Freeze" another UK show a week before the Brighton convention. I guess this could all be written off as coincedence and fair play in business but to make this drama even more interesting there is a webpage devoted to this guys business practices of not paying his vendors, bankrupt companies and an overall contempt for the rest of the tattoo world. Did I mention that this guy has not one tattoo (last I heard anyway)?Not only does this affect the people who run the original London show it also impacts all of the artists working at that show. [...] As artists, these are the people we should not lend our names to. It's important to be aware of who we support. I know that the show will probably go on. But I for one am not going to be a part of it.
Michelle's post -- as well as others from tattooists -- are making the rounds, urging other artists not to participate in these shows. I believe collectors should also take a stand by not attending.
Let's keep our support in the family.