joakim urma

Fueling the culture / getting tattooed by big names

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Well this has been a very interesting read so far.

What I can say on the topic is that when I hear a lot of hype about someone I want to check out their work and form my own opinion. I know what styles of tattoo I prefer so when it comes to getting tattooed by big names then I know there are certain people I will never get tattooed by just because the style doesn't match what I want. For the big names that do work in a style that I would get tattooed then the thing I look for is that gut feeling that this is an exciting body work or a particularly impressive artist. It could be just seeing one piece up close and personal puts into context what they are capable of or actually meeting them gives me an insight into their philosophies and the way they work. Normally it comes down to that wide eyed moment that leaves me slightly breathless when I see a powerful tattoo for the first time. And at the end of the day it doesn't have to be a big name. If I get that feeling from the work their doing then I'm on board.

When it comes to other people getting tattooed by the big name tattooers my feeling is that I really have no place to comment. At the end of the day everyone has their own motivations for getting a tattoo. Some of them I may view as a good idea or a bad idea, but really that is neither here nor there as long as the person getting the tattoo is happy with the end result and remains so, then I don't feel I have much of a place to comment.

At the end of the day if you have a good honest reason for getting a tattoo at all, whether it be by a big name or relatively unkown, and you are happy with the style and quality then all power to you.

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Great thread il just add a couple of points I think about

Il be honest when I first got tattooed by Steve Byrne I had no idea that he was famous or whatever I'd just seen his stuff on MySpace and total tattoo and just thought well he's only 40 mins away and his style is amazing. Turns out he's still my favourite tattooer and one of the nicest people I met not just in the industry but in life.

I always find it interesting to see how many followers people have on Instagram and I'm often surprised to find the people who I believe are the best around have a third of the followers that some average tattooers have.

Another point is we live in a celebrity culture age where people want what they see in the media, maybe not LSTers but the general public see a bangbang tattoo on Miley Cyrus and that's what they want. England is terrible for people copying celebrity tattoos. The Cheryl cole hand flower, the Robbie Williams initials or the Beckham sleeves. These are the people I believe want to be tattooed by Kat Von Dor a Louis Molloy because let's be honest they can't think for themselves

Yep my spelling and grammar is awful haha

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I'll add some personal experience to the conversation here which I'm thoroughly enjoying. Seriously, LST has some really smart and savvy members that don't come off as know it all douche-bags.

Without naming any names, I spoke with one older more establish tattoo artist about Instagram as well as one younger tattoo artist. The older one said while Instagram is nice and great for seeing what other artist's are doing, it lends itself to be a medium where people can rip off your work. The younger artist loves Instagram and stated that they get most of their work request via their Instagram postings (about 90%).

Separately names are names, some established and worth the hype, others maybe not so much. I personally just get what I like and what is appealing to my eye. In the end I'm the one who has to live with the tattoo and if I'm not happy with it even if it was a "big name artist" why did I bother to get it in the first place. I completely agree in that seeing an artist's work on the Internet or on Instagram is not the same as seeing examples in real life. Again the Internet and Instagram is great for researching out ideas and seeing what artists are out there but it is only a component in the many facets of deciding on what tattoo to get and what artist to go with. There is still value in visiting a shop and going to conventions or even holding meet-ups like some LST'ers do from time to time.

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I'm only on Page 2, but I had to chime in. I just saw some Derrick Snodgrass tattoos walk in, and they look sooooo good. The orange fell out in the flowers, but I'm still into it. It's got that "soul" that everyone's talking about.

I actually can't wait for my tattoos to age and and look old. I'm a weirdo.

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I've really enjoyed reading this thread so far.

I think a few things are happening here:

- If we're talking about people who take a collector's approach to getting tattooed (and I don't necessarily mean that in a negative way), maybe interest in big names could be seen as roughly similar to getting books or music that are fairly "correct" but express little about a person. I know I own a lot of music like this, but I don't regret having it because it's helped me seperate what I like from what I'm supposed to like (and may still appreciate somewhat, but that doesn't viscerally excite me like a favorite album or novel). I think this is a phase that many folks need to go through when they discover a new interest but haven't really begun to inhabit it yet.

-Most of us who aren't tattooers always need to spend money on this hobby (or whatever word you want to use). We're not trading art. Maybe there's an anxiety that this isn't any different from purchasing other things, even though it's a lot more intimate. Are my tattoos ultimately just an expensive suit? Am I just buying my way into something?

I think there's also a point at which "good taste" becomes suffocating.

I hope this makes sense and that it isn't just rambling. A lot of this is overthinking and I try not to worry about it and to just get what excites me. I can't control how it comes across to others, and you can tie yourself in knots thinking about your own motivations.

I really agree with this, and I think there's certainly an extent to which, especially if you're fairly new to getting tattooed and want good tattoos but maybe lack the self-confidence to look at a portfolio and say, fuck yes, this is what I want, that there's a sort of reassurance and validation that comes from going to a tattooer with a well-known name. I don't mean this to denigrate anybody because I've been there and I'm sure most people here have experienced this to some degree or another. I mean, I got my first tattoo from Seth Wood, who needless to say is absolutely fucking incredible and who I really credit with setting me on the path to get tattooed how I do, but when I got tattooed by him I didn't know shit about tattoos, I didn't know he was a pretty big deal, and while I wanted to get tattooed by him because he was the person at the Montreal convention who's tattoos spoke most to me, I remember looking at stuff on the Internet about how to look at portfolios and how to look at linework and shading and what not (this was before I knew about LST) and I was checking that against what I'd seen of Seth's tattoos and to be honest, though everything seemed good, I had really no experience to tell good from bad.

I also think that an important part of getting tattooed is that it's the sort of thing that you can only start to figure out by getting tattooed, so maybe the tattoos you got when you started getting tattooed wouldn't be the tattoos you would get when you have more experience getting tattooed, but that's the beauty of tattooing.

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Great thread, btw.

When I was looking at his booth when he wasn't there, Forrest Cavacco yelled from 50 feet away that, if I had questions, to come see him.

Forrest Cavacco... that dude is the man. I wasn't even supposed to get tattooed by him. Right place, right time. He provided one of the best tattoo experiences ever. He wouldn't even let me tip him. It's probably one of my most basic tattoos ever (Jensen sailor lady head, from a guy that's typically more known for his Japanese), but it's also one of my most favorite tattoos ever. At the time, I thought I was getting too many lady heads, but my weird self-imposed "tattoo rule book" has been thrown out the window. I actually got yet another lady head last week.

Is he a name? Some would say yes. Some may not even know who he is. But that's all irrelevant. All that matters to me is that the tattoo looks great and the experience was top notch.

I also think that an important part of getting tattooed is that it's the sort of thing that you can only start to figure out by getting tattooed, so maybe the tattoos you got when you started getting tattooed wouldn't be the tattoos you would get when you have more experience getting tattooed, but that's the beauty of tattooing.

Totally agree with this. Knowing what I know now, if I could do it all over again, I would have gotten all black and grey traditional. But I'm still stoked on my color tattoos. As of right now, I have zero plans to cover anything up. I have some stuff that's not technically sound, and it used to bother me. Nowadays @taaarro mentioned this quote that totally resonates with me, "Any imperfections will add to its beauty." It's been said countless times in tattooing (I first heard it from Tomas Garcia), and it totally works for me.

Going back to the OP, Eddy Deutsche still crushes it, IMO. Granted, I don't have older Eddy work to compare it to in person, and this is the only Eddy tattoo I have. But I've seen other Eddy pieces done in person recently, and it's still pretty amazing.

I'm now curious to hear what everyone's criteria is for choosing their next tattooer. Maybe that should be for another thread.

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This thread has been great so far with many interesting opinions and insight, I think we can all learn from it. Thanks people!

I probably should have specified what I meant by "it" when I wrote that Eddy had "lost it". The it is for me in this case something that would make me feel strongly that I want work from him. Lacking it does not make him a bad tattooer, I didn't mean to say that. For me, compared to his older work (that I have seen in photos only, a problem in it's own as we've discussed in this thread) the newer stuff is just not as nice.

This might have to do with that the old work that I've seen could have been very selected over years and also well made photographs, where as now: he is more likely to post instagram photos of a bigger portion of his work, and also worse photographic renditions of the tattoos. Tattooing is special in that way that it's mostly commisioned pieces, and in most cases it's hard to see how much of the tattoo comes from the tattooer and how much was brought in by the client. That's another thing to factor in when trying to judge someones work.

(Some very orginal tattooers might be blessed by having very original clients with interesting ideas. It doesn't have to result in the most mind blowing tattoos and I still think some of the best ones are just slightly new renditions of the classic panther dagger rose-reportoir. But the client base is still one of the materials that are used in making tattoos. )

And also, some of the things that Deutsche is doing now doesn't resonate with me at all and I have a hard time grasping why he, as a veteran in the industry, would tattoo that way. (Maybe I will learn to like these things too, as time passes.) Of course it's impossible to tell that this is what I meant, by just reading the he "lost it"... Sorry about the confusion.

The example with Eddy Deutsche was just something used to for illustration of what I wanted to discuss. I think this side-track was interesting to talk about, but I am happy that other topics are ventilated in this thread as well. Keep 'em comming!

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@mmikaoj - I have to say, for a thread in which people have pretty virulently disagreed with you, you have been such a good sport about engaging in people's criticisms and not taking it personally. Kudos for that; it can be hard on the internet to disagree without things escalating really quickly.

That said, I also think it's worth remembering just how public this forum is; this is not just a private conversation the posters in this thread are having amongst themselves. I am careful about posting things about tattooers/that tattooers have said/etc. that, even if I don't mean them negatively, might be construed negatively. This is people's livelihoods! If someone is a scratcher or a terrible human being, that's different, but I am wary of making judgments about tattooers otherwise in what is such a public and permanent medium. That stuff is excellent fuel for LST meet-ups (over drinks, of course) instead. :)

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I'd choose "tattoo mojo" over technical perfection any day. It's like music man... It needs soul! I think Deutsche, Roberts and Horiyoshi's work has plenty, and then some.

I'll read this whole thread tomorrow.....but this pretty much sums it all up!

I have been tattooed by several "legends" as you call them......but most of these people are only legends in your mind.....in their minds they are just tattooers who appreciate that so many people are stoked to be tattooed by them! I think you would be surprised by how grounded a lot of these people really are!

I personally decided about 10 years ago i was going to concentrate on getting tattooed by tattooers who have 30+ years in the craft....leaning toward the 40+ year guys and gals! Some of them you may have heard of and others you may not have heard of.....but they put their time in and started tattooing in a time where tattoos really weren't socially acceptable and the "in" thing to do!

Some of their work might not be the most technical or most innovative BUT that shit doesn't matter to me....I have really solid work on me that has held up 20+ years and it still looks better than a lot of people's 10 year old tattoos!

To each his/her own though....that's how I look at it all!

I'll never say anyone has lost it though!

Tattooing is a journey.....just like life! ;)

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To get back to the questions originally asked, I'm not sure that any of us can really be honest about why we want a certain design or why we want a specific person to put it on us (I believe in the unconscious). For me, I usually decide I want a certain design, then think about who does that design in the way that I like most. (I like to think that) I'm not a sucker for big names, but I do think I am a sucker for "authenticity" and "soulfulness." For me, some tattooers and their works have an ineffable draw that goes beyond form or technical proficiency. Certainly, relatively unknown tattooers could possess that quality, but it's less likely that I would find out about them. In regards to masters and their successors, hopefully the successors would be doing something new or different enough to be recognized for their own work. As far as the experience of getting tattooed, the tricky thing is that you never know until after the fact. I am, of course, more compelled to go back to people I enjoyed getting tattooed by and talking to than not. It's such an intense experience getting tattooed that I couldn't imagine going back to someone I didn't enjoy regardless of their reputation or skill.

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This thread has been fantastic, really great discussion so far, thanks everyone for adding your thoughts! After I read the bulk of it I had to jet off to work so I didn't have time to make a cogent reply until now, hopefully some of my thoughts have survived through the past few days of working. Anyways, these are my thoughts on the subject as a client relatively new to tattoos.

Though I'd always been a fan of tattoos, I got a pretty late start on my "collection" so to speak, I loved the look of tattoos but throughout my teens and early 20s any spare cent went to drugs and booze so actually getting tattooed was fiscally impossible. I got sober, met some people with rad tattoos in and out of the program, and really started thinking about it again, I visited a bunch of trashy shops throughout the greater Colorado Springs area, and found nothing appealing in my search. I've always been a bit of a collector and really dig researching and finding the best version of whatever it is I'm looking for. I eventually found LST which I credit for helping me learn what makes a good tattoo, and really helping shape my tastes. You all have been lifesavers! Sorry for the long personal discourse but I feel it's a bit relevant to the rest of the post.

So after two years of scoring the forum for information, flipping through instagram a few times a day, following an unmanageable amount of accounts on said instagram, I finally took the plunge and booked an appointment with Marie Sena after I had seen her name on the list of artists working at a then new shop (Dedication Tattoo) down in Denver. Her style really spoke to me, I wasn't really familiar with her as a "name" in the tattoo game, maybe read about her on here once or twice but I feel extremely lucky to have such a wonderful first tattoo from such a fantastic person.

I never really set out to be the guy who never gets tattooed by the same person twice, but as of yet that's how it's turning out. I am wary of being perceived as some sort of "starfucker" as @Pugilist put it, but with Denver being so centrally located in this country I am presented with a lot of great opportunities via guest spots to get work from great tattooers! How am I going to pass up a chance to get tattooed by Adam Shrewsbury while he's in town for a couple days, he doesn't even make tattoos regularly when he's home! Chad's going to be here in a couple weeks? Well I'd better find a way to stack some cash because I won't let myself miss out on that. I have a list in my head of people I'd love to get work from, some may be big names, but it's all because their work speaks to me in ways that I can't really quantify, I don't want the most star-studded skin, I just want stuff that makes me happy when I look in the mirror.

Besides the power of the imagery, it really is all about the experience though. Any time I've been tattooed by someone with a "big name" they have been some of the realest, most down to earth people I've met. Jeff Zuck is a gentleman and a scholar, Marie, as I said earlier, literally one of the nicest people I've ever met. Adam is the most down to earth dude, you can just tell how grateful he is to be spending his life making rad art for people. Every tattoo that I've seen Chad put out has blown my mind, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how humble he was, making sure the other guys in the shop thought the composition was solid on his sketch, ready to wipe it all away and start over if Joe didn't like something about it. Myke Chamber seems to get a bit of grief around here, maybe he's too self-promotional, his drawings are simplistic, but his message in all the interviews is a story of hope for those of us struggling with addiction, and I could tell that he was really grateful for his position in life.

Now, @mmikaoj, again, I appreciate you starting this thread, the discussion has been really great! You caught enough flak for what you said about Deutsche, Shige, and Horiyoshi III, but I had to jump in and defend Walter McDonald! I know that some of his tattoos look a little off, definitely not what anyone would call perfect, but goddammit they are fucking tattoo magic in the flesh! That man is one of the best human beings I've had the pleasure of meeting, it's impossible to imagine him without a smile on his face. His shop is beautiful, flash from floor to ceiling, exactly what you picture in your head when you think "tattoo shop," not to mention that he's mostly responsible for me and the rest of the state being so spoiled for choice when it comes to guest artists on a regular basis. Walter is the coolest and I can't wait to get a tattoo from him.

Sorry about the rambling, hope I didn't stray too far from what I was trying to get across.

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Great post @exume, thanks for sharing!

In my defense I have to say that I didn't say anything about Shige. It was someone else who said he had better artists at his local shop... (still want to know where that is) Also, I think I did say that I like some of Walter McDonalds stuff a lot (?), but that I was not as into how rough and loose his style is. His ideas, design and concepts are often way cool if you ask me!

In the end, as with any art, it's a matter of preference. Someone mentioned that Chad Koeplinger tattoos in a looser style and he's in the bunch I'd consider favorite tattooers BUT I don't like the stuff that's very loose (yet). I think this could be a journey in itself, to learn to appriciate the rawness of things. A parallel could be to someone who gets into punk music by listening to, say, Bad Religion. After some years this persons taste might have refined/degraded (depending on you perspective) to the point where Discharge is his/hers favorite band, if you see the resemblence. I think it can be an obstacle to experience and enjoyment of any art form to judge it on scales of trashy - clean, dark - positive, energetic - static, and so on. There's no way to quantify the tattoo mojo and soul that is the most important ingredient.

I don't know. For me tattoos are still mostly a visual thing and sometimes used to imprint/express an idea/feeling/concept I feel strongly about. I don't doubt that Walter has a smile on his face even when sleeping and that Eddy is one of the raddest guys, that Spotlight has bullet holes in the flash or whatever. Those are great things! But I am not sure that, for me, this would help me choose and artist to get work from. For some people it probably does, and I'm not going to say who is right or wrong in this. Tattoo culture is not a sport, I think it's totally fine that people have strongly oposing ideas and taste preference and I think it's fun and evolving in it's own to discuss without having to decide who is winning an argument.

@Pugilist: I agree, it's always important to think twice about what you set in stone publicly (or set in HTML, in this case) And I absolutely think we should all try to be fair and not fall into gossip and trash talk. However, just because it's somebody's livelihood doesn't make it immune to criticism, in my opinion. One thing I like about this culture is that is participatory. You can't really be on the sidelines and still enjoy it (well you can watch Miami INK, but that's another story) Even getting just one tattoo means you have to make an active effort and become a, if tiny and shortlived, part of it. And I think one of the beautiful things is that it's not very hierarchical, no thrones of professional art critics who dictates what to think and feel about tattoos, what's good and who is not.

I think there needs to be room for discussion, in a polite and civilized way about things we/you/I don't like and to voice some critical oppinions about people's work too. I am sure Deutsche has the kind of following where he's legacy will continue to grow still (and I also think he deserves it, I hope I made that clear). I also hope that people can make up their own minds and trust their own taste. I hope we don't get threads where the sole purpose is to talk shit about somebody's work, that would be really unfair and a lowmark for the forum. In this case it made for some interesting arguments that also lead to other ideas and perspectives comming through. As long as the tone is good and people behave I think it's benificial for everyone that we're not only giving eachother high 5's in the Latest Tattoo Lowdown-thread and joining into the choir whenever a respected tattooers name is mentioned. But yeah, thanks for pointing it out!

"Think before you post!" is a good moto

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I disagree that there needs to be room here for critical opinions and saying what we don't like about any particular tattooer's work, basically because I think most of us are ignorant about tattoos. What's that phrase that I think comes from Brooklyn Blackie? Don't look for faults in things you don't understand? Most of us here, myself included, understand very little.

I'm not going to name names here because it isn't important, but I was getting tattooed once and my tattooer was talking with one of his colleagues--both tremendous tattooers in their own right--about another tattooer that they both admire and how he tattoos in such a way that the tattoo isn't going to look quite right until it's settled into the skin a couple of years. This guy is making tattoos for the long haul, that are going to look great throughout the person's life, and not just on an Instagram photo when they're brand new. That, for me, was one of many humbling moments I've had while getting tattooed where I understood how little I actually knew. Things like this are a large reason why I said earlier that we shouldn't base our opinions on photos alone. I don't want this to be a place where we're going on about flaws in this tattooers or that tattooers work when they may not even be flaws at all.

This is also making me think of the Invisible podcast with Seth Ciferri when he talks about getting shit from people about things that were said on the Read Street Forum. I'm grateful to Scott for providing this space that has been so enriching and has been so helpful in how I get tattooed that I don't want him to have the grief of tattooers going up to him and giving him shit about why people are talking garbage about their tattoos on his forum.

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Yeah, I agree that all art is subject to criticism, but continuing from what @Graeme said, not everyone is a good critic. Welcome to the trouble with the internet - where everyone who can type is seen as having an equal opinion. I also think it's very important to distinguish between taste (e.g. X tattooer's stuff isn't for me, because I prefer this other style) and critique (e.g. X tattooer has "lost it" and no longer makes solid tattoos). The former is of course something we all can and should do--figure out what appeals to us and why--while the latter is something that requires much more knowledge than just what I find personally appealing. No one is saying we all have to love the same things, but rather that it is dangerous to conflate what we like with what's objectively good, and to think we're assessing tattoos based on the latter when not only is that not the case, but we're all still climbing the steep learning curve of understanding that at all.

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Interesting thread and really good info from those more experienced.

I like the discussions on looser style. Guess each of us has our own preference. Some tattoos look too clean and perfect to me. Almost like it is a machine made decal and not a tattoo. Maybe those tattoos might look better as the skin ages and it becomes less perfect ?

The tattoo experience is not something I think about. I might be lucky my tattoos have all gone very smoothly. Artists and shops were clean, friendly and polite. But tattoos hurt. 3 hours of pain is not something I look forward to. Some of my artists have a heavier hand than others and I have to admit, that is something I consider for future work. Especially if I am thinking of larger tattoos on sensitive areas.

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I know i hurt some peoples feelings, but just to follow up. I just dont care for the washed out look, i like for my tattoos to jump off the skin and look new. I also think the whole japanese themed stuff is more for the afore mentioned "starfuckers" im amazed at the amount of people who will travel to the orient to get tatooed by shige on a part of the body no one ever sees! Give me a naked mermaid, anchor, deer skull, tomahawk, arrow head any day! In the end to each their own, just remember no matter who done your ink, you cant sell it and when its time to go, its buried with you!

SENT FROM MY LG G FLEX ON THE NOW NETWORK FROM SPRINT!?✌

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@Pugilist

I don't think everyone who can type is seen, or should be seen, as having an equal opinion on the internet. And by now most people have realized that too, if not: a cold shower is to read the comments on 10 random youtube-videos of your choice hahaha :)

I think this is the charm and frustration of the net, scrutinization of sources is necessary ALWAYS. So what I've written is from the perspective of, and holds the weight of, someone who has about 40 tattoos but has never made a single tattoo himself. Also, none of my tattoos are older than 5 years. These factors play a part when it comes my taste and knowledge in the art form, naturally.

I also think that maybe I should have phrased it differently, "lost it" seems to carry some heavy connotations in english. I apologize if I made anyone engage in a discussion they felt provoked to take a defensive stance in. This whole side track about Eddy Deutsche (and Horiyoshi III) was just that. I enjoyed the discussion, learned and had fun. No hard feelings from my sides towards anyone. It's all a learning process! But maybe not as deterministic as to say that seasoned tattooers with 30 years under their belt are the ones with the supreme answers. I'm quite conservative too when it comes to tattoos but I believe in new blood and new fresh/naive/foolhardy ideas to stir it up every now and then. (Even if it proves that "bold will hold", and so on..)

Thanks @Pugilist and all the others who debated this issue with me, it's been fruitful! I resign now from this discussion because it has gotten to meta for me. I hope there are other things in my original post and in what other people have written that we can still talk about. Peace and thanks!

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Things I just remembered: this board has an "ignore user" function!

@mmikaoj - again, I am so impressed by your engagement in this discussion despite how prickly it's been. Here's to civil disagreement. Also, I hadn't considered how differing languages might make for tricky discussion. Good point.

@CultExciter - he didn't sell you out, your chemistry is just too strong to be ignored!

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