Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Dan Higgs and blue collar tattooing.
My friend Bryan hipped me to this youtube video of Dan Higgs and Freddie Corbin from the 90's when they worked at probably the first totally custom shop in the western hemisphere, Realistic Tattoo. Which I guess was one of Ed Hardy's shops. It's cool to see how far custom tattooing has come in such a short time, probably less than 20 years. You go from a brand new concept that kind of threw tattooers and customers for a loop to something that is almost expected of a tattoo shop. A lot of the customers that I come across tend to think that picking something off of the wall is lame or not what tattooing is about, to which I always have to point out that the designs are some of the best and drawn for actual tattooing and really what's better in the end picking out a design of a sheet of flash done by a tattooer or going on google image search and picking a tattoo design?
The coolest remarks that were made in this entire video were made by Dan Higgs on this subject. I agree with his thoughts on how doing some tattoos that might be considered low brow to actually be the essence of what tattooing, especially tattooing in America, is. There's a few conflicting modes of thought that all stem from this argument, some tattooers think that doing a Taz tattoo is beneath them, some tattooers do them because they think it's ironic (perfect for the climate of hipsterism we live in now), and some tattooers have no problem tattooing flash at all, but they only will tattoo flash from a certain time period or in a certain style and they feel that the rest of tattooing's history and developmental stages are unworthy of their attention.
My take on all of this is this, you're a tattooer and being a tattooer is awesome and important, but not as important as doing what the customer wants and doing as good of a job on it as you possibly can. In current tattooing it seems as if there's an attitude of superiority of tattooers over customers and I know that the customers can tell. Continuing on with this attitude is probably going to be one of the things that brings a low point in tattooing faster and it will definitely burn a lot of bridges with the public. It isn't hard to be pleasant and do a good job, if anything it's the bare minimum. It's funny because I think that the beginning of this attitude might have come from the flourishing of "Custom Tattoo Studios" and it's cool to see that there was a sort of opposing voice even at the very beginning.