The Official Blog for Tattoo Artist Magazine

Past and Present

By Manny Hernandez

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Hey Ladies and Gents,

 This is my first blog entry for TAM Blog, and I feel like I should somewhat introduce myself so you guys can feel familiar with me as a blogger and artist. My name is Manuel Hernandez and I work at Urban Art Tattoo in Tempe, Arizona. I’ve been tattooing for four years in the Phoenix area and I figured it would be kind of cool to do something in the perspective of “past vs. present” mainly to look at what is going on in the industry today such as repetitive tattoo designs, Pintrest tattoos, tattoo flash, egos and attitudes, machines, the customer perspective and the appreciation of tattooing itself and what we as artists do for a living.

I’m not doing this to ruffle feathers, or piss anyone off, or to use this as some way to call people out, but more of away to just open up discussions here on the Internet and even in your own shop. For this first blog entry, I want to just open a discussion about how things may or may not have changed in tattooing as far as the old vs. new. For example, the attitudes in tattoo shops. Sometimes, I feel as if this may be the result of so many people wanting to tattoo recently, or maybe it’s just the fact that the new generation of tattooers has been brought up in a different light. I know a lot of what was instilled in me when I was going through my apprenticeship was the ideal of holding tattooing sacred to us– keep the tricks of the trade that we have acquired as privy to ourselves as possible.

Going through a rough apprenticeship definitely helped me to appreciate tattooing as a whole, and admittedly, not want to give away what I learned so easily to people that I feel wouldn’t appreciate it.  As of now, there are a lot of people that tell me their apprenticeships weren’t really a trial. It was a fun experience with privileges such as being able to go to their second job, time off for personal endeavors, and things of the like. The idea of having something like tattooing being handed to someone so easily is extremely foreign to me, but I have nothing to say but “That’s awesome! I wish I had that!” But in reality, I wouldn’t change my apprenticeship for the world. It made me who I am today.

So to you guys, I ask this:

Do you guys feel as if the reason that tattooing, as an industry, is so attitude driven because the older and younger generations don’t understand each other? Or is it simply because one had it harder/different/easier than the other?

Do you feel as if the attitudes you catch in a shop are a mixture of both of these things? Or do you think it’s just because there are a lot of shitty people in tattooing? I see bad attitudes from both sides, and I can also understand why. The way I look at it, maybe the younger tattooers have these attitudes because an apprenticeship was more easily obtainable and they feel as if they don’t have to give a shit what other people think because they had to work equally as hard, but in different aspects to become a “tattoo artist.”

Like any argument, there is another side to the story… I do feel that older tattooers dislike younger tattooers for a couple key reasons. I feel as if it’s almost offensive to them, how a younger tattooer will just out right ask for a tip or trick, instead of observing and trying different things out like they had to. I see that all the time especially on the Internet. I personally think it is rude as hell to ask another tattooer you don’t know “Hey bro, what kind of inks/needles/machines/etc. do you use? How’d you do this? How’d you do that?” Because it is something that the receiving end had to experience personally, on a very intimate and experimental level. Trial and error drives our industry, and without the proper amount of respect and appreciation for that fact, a true sentiment for the struggles of our elders cannot be obtained. Oh, and a word to the wise– just because you know what that person uses, doesn’t mean you will tattoo anything like them!

Anyway, I’ll leave that for another blog entry. Back to the nature at hand, this is a double-edged sword and it definitely can be a touchy subject to some. And my question would be: how does everyone else feel about this? Let me know how you look at it, from both sides of the coin. Thanks for reading my entry and I hope you enjoyed it. I will try to keep this going as regularly as possible.

Later dudes,

Manny Hernandez

Urban Art Tattoo

@manny_themachete

Manuelhernandez6@me.com

4 responses

  1. Honestly, man… I don’t know where you’re coming from. I haven’t run into many bad attitudes when I ask someone about their setup. Most people that I have questions for are more than happy to give me answers, and believe me, I’ve done my share of asking dumb questions. It’s really the only way you’re going to learn anything. If there’s an artist at a convention that you admire and you want to know how they achieve a certain effect, ask questions! For the most part, people will answer you.
    Sure there’s some tattooers out there that get questions from “newbies” all the time and are sick of it. And for some, I’m sure its about the time-honored secrecy of the art, but times have changed. There’s a whole new breed of tattooers out there that want to push the art to its limits and want to see the things that other tattooers can do with the tricks that they already know, and are more than willing to show you.
    There’s also seminars, DVDs, books, and blogs about tattooing that’ll get you pointed in the right direction. Things are WAY more accessible than they used to be, and I think it’s wonderful.
    There’s definitely a generation gap, though. Tattooers aren’t making their own needles or scrubbing tubes anymore (for the most part), but then again, we’re not rinsing our needles in a bucket and sponging them off for the next customer either.
    The attitudes you may be getting from the old-timers most likely stem from an unwillingness to keep up with change, and a stubbornness that will soon die off. Not that that’s a good thing. Tattooers need to know their history and respect it, but that’s another blog altogether.
    I do have to admit, though, that most of the time I ask questions I get one in return. The first thing they’ll usually ask me is: “Where do you tattoo out of?” And I can TOTALLY understand why. We’ve all gone through our apprenticeships and don’t want to teach scratchers. Seems almost like the Mason secret handshake. To me, that’s the way it should be.
    This TAM blog is a great way to start. I check the new articles all the time, and see the new artwork being uploaded on a daily basis. Sometimes, if I really like the way someone tattoos, I’ll send them an email asking just those same questions (ie. setup / needles / ink / machines / hand speed, etc…). Although it is way more impersonal to send an email than to ask in person, you may still learn something. Sometimes I’ll get no reply, sometimes I get someone telling me to get tattooed and observe, and other times I’ll get honest and well thought-out answers. I guess it just depends on how much the artist wants to share.
    You’re relatively new to the tattoo scene, and it sounds like it’s pretty frustrating to you to get information, but keep your chin up, kid! Keep asking questions and pushing yourself. It’s clear that you have a willingness to learn by taking the time to write this blog, so keep it up. You may not get blood from a stone, but you may find a few sponges in your travels.

    September 6, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    • Hey man, hows it going? Sorry about the late reply i havent had internet access other then my phone for a little bit. But anyway, I defintely think its awesome that you havent experienced the cold shoulder from people whether it be in your town, conventions, etc. theres not many people out there that havent had at least had one of those experiences. But as far as this blog entry goes it has nothing to do with my personal experiences to gain knowledge or wisdom from tattooers. I have had good luck with that actually so this wasnt some sort of way for me to try and passive aggressively get out my frustrations with that at all. As far as being a younger tattooer i have had the best experiences and have been introduced to some of the people i look up to. so i have nothing but good things to say about that. These are all just observations from an outside perspective and other peoples happenings more then my own. like i said in the blog entry above this is just me looking at it from both sides of the coin. Like you said its awesome that things have become more accessable and you can learn quick. and also making it more about just doing tattoos, but theres also a flip side to that being that it is so accessable, that means it does produce more people not going about things the right way.

      Thanks for the kind words, good luck, and feedback. I definitely will keep my head up and push forward.

      best wishes,

      Manny Hernandez

      October 30, 2013 at 1:38 AM

  2. its only a touchy subject if you make it a touchy subject. lol

    September 7, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    • Haha, yes it can be! But you know how it goes gotta cover all bases, when getting on the internet.

      October 30, 2013 at 1:39 AM