noun, plural -ries.
the branch of knowledge dealing with past events.
a continuous, systematic narrative of past events as relating to a particular people, country, period, person, etc., usuallywritten as a chronological account; chronicle: a history ofFrance; a medical history of the patient.
the aggregate of past events.
the record of past events and times, especially inconnection with the human race.
a past notable for its important, unusual, or interestingevents: a ship with a history.
I was talking to my friend Ms. Mikki a couple of weeks ago about the lack of women tattooers and their place in history. Why is the history of tattooing mostly a boys club? Where are the women who have paved the way for women and men in tattooing today? Many of the books published are by men and about men. Ms. Mikki has been tattooing for 24 years. She has worked with many of the women who pioneered tattooing for men and women in the tattoo industry today. Suzanne Fauser, Vyvyn Lazonga, Kari Barba, Patty Kelly to name a few. Ms. Mikki was the first woman to work at Temple Tattoo and AWR and other shops as well. And after years of tattooing Ms. Mikki was told that she should hang out more with the guys and maybe then she could be a part of the books being published. Isn't history made up of the hard work and determination of the people. Wasn't it the Freedom Riders, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others hard work and determination during the Civil Right's movement that made it in to the history books? Or was it the story of the guy's life who was watching from the sidelines that made it in to history. I don't know, but I am pretty sure I have never heard of that guy before.
When I first met Dan one of the things that inspired me most about him was that he was up to something. He was making the best tattoo machines he could, so he could leave a legacy behind when he was gone. If the machines he made were not the best, he would bury his head in a book and put in time working out the new information in his machines. Hard work and determination. Dan is the first to say that he doesn't know everything. Sure he knows a lot but he continues to learn every day.
I have had the pleasure of visiting Lyle Tuttle's collection of tattoo history. I have also had the pleasure of visiting Henk Schiffmacher's Tattoo Museum. Dan and I have been invited to participate in the opening of Henk's new museum opening in November. What I have seen in these particular collections is a vast and complete collection of the history, past and present of tattooing. Including men and women from around the world and the accomplishments and failures of artists that have innovated the industry we love so much. Lyle and Henk gather information with respect. Research what is and what isn't. They are true contributors to the history of the industry.
I have noticed there are many books on tattoos, tattoo machines, and tattooing readily available on the internet. Google the word tattoo on the internet and about 408,000,000 results come up. So what does that say about the future history of the tattoo industry? Well for starters it says tattooing is no longer for sailors, whores and criminals. It says anyone can get a tattoo (196,000,000 Google results), do a tattoo (146,000,000 Google results) or build a tattoo machine (1,030,000 Google results). But who is contributing to this immense wealth of information. Is it the tattooer tattooing everyday, studying their craft and changing peoples lives? I cannot imagine that this form of electronic history is made up of all of the tattooers who have paid their dues and continue to pay their dues day in and day out. So what about the information published in books? I started to research actual published books on tattooing and the number is so immense, and frankly I found a couple of sites that have low cost publication, so really I suppose anyone could publish a book.
Accordingly, what can be done? Who are true contributors and not just information regurgitant's? I imagine it is the tattoo community. A community that must come together. Especially in this time of electronic history and tattoo schools. A tattoo community that is rich with ideas and conversation, from people all over the world. With diverse backgrounds, men and women, young and old, rich and poor. I envision a community full of communication. I know some might say, "well, isn't that what the internet is?" I agree, yes that is what the internet is. But there are so many disreputable sites and individuals who write what they want, and say what they think is the truth. The truth is out there. True contributors are busy making their mark on history. Research and find what is real. Work hard with determination. Keep ego out and let talent rule.
The tattoo industry is no longer this thing, kept in the dark. For sailors and whores done in underground shops. It is main stream, it is on television shows, commercials, movies, in fashion and in magazines. It is rare for me to go out and not see other people with tattoos. Maybe because I live in Hollywood, CA or maybe not. One thing is for sure tattoos are out there. I think it is time that history is updated and representative of what is a true record of past events and times, and not of what a few say it is.