Faolan

Artist vs. Tattooer

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So i was in the other day getting a touch up and i started talking with my tattooer about how some people called them artists which started a conversation on how that got started, what defined an artist, and how they're compared to a tattooer. I thought I'd ask about what you guys think about the titles changing, tattooer to artist, parlor to studio, just opinions on how you feel about it. I'd love to hear what the tattooers/artists feel about this, what do you guys prefer and why?

The tattooers at my parlor thought it was about giving it new names as tattoos became more acceptable to make it sound more nicer for a younger crowd, compared to when it was more of an outlaw thing to get a tat. Can't wait to hear what you guys think.

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For people who actually tattoo, I notice the terms alternating between different styles of tattooing. The more rendered, over the top styles seem to go with artist more, while the traditional/craftsmen minded guys seem to opt for tattooer. Clients almost across the board use tattoo artist, or occasionally tattooist. Some variations seem to occur based on era in which someone came from, as well. Similar to shops or tattooers now using the term "professional tattooing" to differentiate from scratchers/fly-by-night kind of guys, tattoo artist did seem to be a way to try to separate from those who aren't serious.

Personally, I call myself and use the term tattooer. I find I work best thinking of what I do on skin as all craft, with art being on paper or canvas, and ending with my final line drawing for a stencil. However, like a potter, or someone who works in a bronze foundry casting people's sculptures, I understand there is an artistic component to the craft.

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good points all. the tattooers i know are definitely old school, traditional tough older guys. and I've heard the comparison with it being a craft as opposed to an art style because of the limitations that skin or paper have. thank you for your response.

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When I was at the Joel Long show at Atak Gallery, they had shirts for sale that said: Tattoo(er) "A Real Artist Doesn't Need Validation" or something along those lines. I generally use the term tattooer, but I think there are certain people in the business who make more artful tattoos than others. Not to say craft tattoos are any worse or better.

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I have a lot of respect for any person that has decided they would spend the extra effort to learn a unique medium not normally taught in art schools, develop the skills and experience to transfer their creativity to flesh. I consider tattooer to be similar to classifying a painter, sculptor, photographer, musician, writer, etc. - are they not all artists?

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I personally prefer "Tattooist" or "Tattoo Artist" the term tattooer (in my opinion) sounds like more of a flash tattooer than an actual "Artist" that can create art rather than just tattoo it... That isn't taking away from anything, just stating how it "sounds" to me... This is in no way meant to sound insulting, just how I considered introducing myself over the years and the thoughts that went into it.

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I prefer the term tattooer, although any of them work. When I think of tattooing as a craft as opposed to an art, and myself a craftsman instead of an artist, I have an easier time setting aside my ego and giving the client what they want. There's nothing artistic about reproducing that same infinity symbol with birds and feathers coming out of it and hiding all of their baby's names and birth dates. The artist in me cringes every time. That's when the craftsman in me steps in and does it without complaining or putting ego in front of making a living. When I think of it as a craft that stress of having to create a work of art every time is lifted. The craftsman in me works a little harder on the little pork chop tattoos than the artist with the inflated ego who has to do it his way. That helps me sleep a lot better at night.

With all of that being said, all crafts are still art. There is art in everything you look at and I do mean everything. Somebody somewhere down the line designed the shape and appearance of almost everything you look at, from the box you pour your cereal out of to the toilet you take a shit in. Anyway, tattooer works for me.

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