Past and Present
By Manny Hernandez
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.
Urban Art Tattoo