Canyon Webb: Making Good Choices
By Canyon Webb
Making good choices is an important part of life, let alone tattooing. Frankly my biggest mistakes were bad decisions, or uncalculated risks. As crazy as it sounds, I just came to this realization while moving to a different location and acquiring new clients. To some degree my mentality was wrapped up in karmic thinking… A “we get what we deserve” thought process…
This direction of thinking can lead you in circles. We lose our bearings trying to gauge why things happen to us. In my new opinion it’s very simple, it’s the choices we make that change our lives. Now as elementary as this sounds, there are a lot of choices I leave to chance in my day without making a definitive decision. I roll the dice on trivial things, most times it’s about dinner or what’s on TV. But I catch myself leaving some big decisions to chance when they should be planned and pursued.
This is where tattoos come into play. I start asking myself, “How many tattoos have I planned at the last moment? How many tattoos have I chosen convenience over planning?” Granted one percent of the time I might stumble on a new discovery, and some artists may have a huge percentage of breakthroughs while winging it. But these discoveries can be found efficiently during practice and drawing. At the point of humble and embarrassed reflection.
The best analogy I’ve heard and related to is, “you don’t practice in the big game.” Can you imagine a professional athlete whose mentality is to try new things during the game and not practicing during the allotted time of practice? I started thinking about the many tattoos I’ve seen that look like experiments. Misguided attempts that could have been supported by more planning, more research and more practice. It’s as simple as making a choice to try harder, to not be as lazy, to not use any excuses. I realized some choices I’ve made have short-changed my clients and career. These ideals separated me from the artists I admired.
It’s my lack of being personal that’s to blame as well. We should know more about our client’s lifestyles… Is my client in the sun a lot? Does this fit who they are and how they live? These conclusions help us decide on a better design fit for the client. It is our job to exhaust these possibilities. There is no excuse for getting into negative positions that could be avoided with an extra question. If I haven’t asked the hard questions I deserve the hard road. Tattoos are a collaboration between artist and client and tough decisions need to be made from the get-go. This fueled me to find the flaw in my personality. Was it stubbornness, excuses, fear, procrastination, being close-minded?
I believe these are the hang-ups that fuel our bad choices. Career choices are so important for artists. To often I meet young artists who just want fame and assume the road to success is luck, gambling with your medium (tattooing)… That one day it just happens, success! The success is in the choice of putting yourself out there, being a part of the scenery…
Make consistent efforts to gain viewers. It’s not about deserving recognition, or entitlement. Make the choice to do what it takes. How much planning from the smallest to the biggest decisions in your day matter, or could have made the difference. It all adds up. We should only blame ourselves, and we owe it to our clients and careers to think before we act. To make the best choices possible…
(Canyon Webb is a tattooer and blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine. Canyon can be found at Off the Map Tattoo in Grants Pass, OR.)