Dawn Cooke: Ask Not What Your Culture Can Do For You, But What Can You Do For Your Culture
By Dawn Cooke
I have been thinking lately about how important it is to support the culture and community of tattooing. It seems like a no-brainer, but I noticed that it doesn’t seem like people have any real criteria for the support they do give. It’s almost like people have an odd biased that is based on a “what can I get out of this” attitude. This makes sense since we have such a capitalist environment at play…
But what if we took that attitude out of it completely. What if we just supported artists, companies, suppliers based on the actual quality of the product, art or service. What if we based our support on the idea of where we wish to see our culture in 5, 10 or 20 years? I don’t know, maybe that’s too much to ask… But maybe we could challenge ourselves to think about why we by needles from Worldwide needles as opposed to Lucky’s Tattoo Supply or KingPin, just as an example. Is the cost the only factor?
Or what if we thought about why we like a certain artist and overlook others with just as much talent or potential. Is it just the hype that has been created around a certain person that attracts us? Everyone wants to be noticed; some people are better at it than others. But there’s something to be said about finding that diamond in the rough. Jumping on someone else’s train isn’t going to get you where you want to go. But this whole blog is about where our culture will go, not about where you or I will go. Time will only tell which of us really made a difference.
With that said, if we know the reasons why we support someone or something there’s a better chance everyone benefits from this whole thing we call life. We can take some responsibility in even the smallest choices, which eventually shape our future. This applies not only to our culture but also to a broader population. We have to decide what we want to happen to our culture and make sure every decision we make is for that common good, rather than being solely self-centered about our choices.
Some intentions are corrosive not only to the self but also to a community as a whole. If you support a company, supplier or artists ask yourself not, “What advantage does this give me?” But ask instead, “What does supporting this do for my community or culture?” Ask these questions when you make any decision involving our culture, such as taking on an apprentice or opening a shop, going on a reality TV show, showing art in a gallery, or publishing a book. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do these things. I’m saying we should know why and have some motivations that benefit the common good. We have to be conscious about how we represent one another. We are our brothers and sisters keepers…