Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tattoo Machine.

I bought this book by Jeff Johnson a few weeks back because one of the guys at Borders who is acquainted with some of my clients told me about it and because it's about tattooing.

It's a pretty quick read, mostly recounting the authors experiences in the tattoo industry, which if you are involved in directly you can relate to a lot of what he talks about in this book. Though a lot of the slang terms he uses throughout the book are kind of funny, some of which I've never heard and if I ever used them I'd probably be pretty embarrassed with myself. I find his picture of tattooing in a street shop from the 90's up to today to be pretty accurate, though I don't think I would have handled the majority of the situations the same way he did, these situations do arise often in a busy street shop (more than you'd care to admit actually). Some of the stories seemed a bit like colorful embellishments of actual events but who can blame a guy for writing a book and maybe "putting the flowers on himself" a bit as Stoney would have said.

I do think his approach to tattooing is heavily based in the 90's wave of tattooing where it seems like everyone was looking at Guy Atchison and the like and trying to get as far away from what I like to think of as tattoo art. His distaste for "traditional" tattooing doesn't surprise me and I don't really care because everyone's entitled to an opinion, but he really discredits a lot of the history and meaning behind alot of the imagery that was developed back then, not to mention he doesn't really say anything about Japanese tattooing which to me is really some of the most timeless stuff to look at.

But Jeff Johnson comes from a pretty rough background and tattooing may have saved him from a dismal future, which is becoming less common of a story in tattooing as we head into the years ahead. I appreciated the stories of his customers and all the crazy shit that he's seen over the years, even if he sort of paints most tattooers he works with and even himself as kind of a fuck up druggie who just lucked into the business. I just want some people to realize that not all tattooers are the same type of person, we're not all some stereo type that you see on TV or read about in books, but there's not too many people representing the individuals in tattooing because most of them are busy tattooing and progressing and not writing books about it.

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