Ursula

tattoo/art secrets - keep or tell??

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so... I know lately there's been a lot of back and forth about tattoo secrets and who deserves to learn these secrets...

here's my question

As some of you know I do hand embroidery, much of it based on tattoo flash. I also paint some of these embroideries. A lot of people have been asking me lately what kind of paint I use (there's only the one kind i know of that works similar to what most people use for painting flash on paper). I don't like to tell people the brand of paint I use because I had to attend a seminar/class about fabric painting to learn. That course cost me $1000 after paying my plane, hotel and class fees.

Am I just being a bitch by not telling people or is it o.k. to keep my only real secret about my work guarded? I've been copied so many times already by fellow embroiderers I just feel like if I let out this secret It'll be the end. The people who've copied my idea of tattoo + embroidery are already out there selling their low quality stuff for cheap cheap cheap as it is. I used to post my stuff on a craft website and within a month of doing so everyone else was posting tattoo embroideries too. Flattering yes, annoying even more yes.

So how do you all feel about it? Do you tell people what kind of ink/needles/techniques you use?

And if not, what the best way to let them down nicely? So far I've just been deleting those types of questions from my blog/facebook

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Fuck em, don't tell em anything. I wouldn't expect any tattooer to explain to me their technique for lines, shading, etc. Especially if they're asking you on your facebook. Craft a tactfully-worded generic response you can send out that politely says, "Thank you for your interest, but I am not at liberty to divulge the way in which I create these pieces. Now get off the internet and go outside," or something.

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Not sure if I should be the one to answer this, but I say tell them. But then again I was raised in a family who had businesses in a small town that existed for over a hundred years, and was raised to believe that competition is good for business.

If they want to know the secrets they will find them some how, and to me, and I am just talking about myself here, what you give you get back, somewhere in the scheme of things.

You also have an alternative, which is to drip feed these secrets via your website - become the go to person for everything embroidery related. You could supply the information that is easier to find via your site, and then run a short course where you deliver the real secrets.

In everything, quality will rise. Those who use the knowledge respectfully will add benefit to the craft, those who abuse it will fall away, as it is in all things. I do not believe its an individuals responsibility to legislate the actions of others, I guess its an acceptance thing...what will happen will happen so why not enjoy the ride and see how you can help yourself and others?

Again, this is simply my personal perspective, based on living on an island that is pretty small compared to most places.

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Don't tell them a fucking thing, and don't feel bad for it either, Ursula! You've put too much time and money into getting to the great standard you're at, telling everyone else how you do it would be pissing it all up the wall, in my opinion. Telling everyone how to do what you do wouldn't be much different to the effects this TLC we've been talking about may have, though obviously on a much smaller and less dangerous scale- you'll have loads of people out there putting out bullshit copies and making money from inferior copies of your work. I think you should just stick with what you've been doing so far. :)

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Is TLC not a bit different? Showing someone how to tattoo, as they are, is perhaps similar to showing someone how to do skin modification, or laser surgery, or even dentistry, and while I totally respect Ursulas craft, putting a needle in cloth is different from putting a needle in skin. I was watching the Core Flatmo interview, and Scott mentioned how there were so many crappy tattoo studios in SF. Core asked him if it effected the good artists, and Scott replied that it did not.

I guess my point is that people are going to get into stuff, and we can take it as negative or we can turn it positive.

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No, you don't need to tell them anything. If they truly want to learn they can go about it the same way you did. Information isn't free, and I'm with gouge telling them to fuck off. This world is now to politically correct and everyone having to be equal.

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Thanks guys I feel a lot better now about not wanting to give it all away.

I do like bubble's idea of doing how to's or that type of thing through my blog. I had been considering that myself.

I'm not interested on teaching anyone though because I lack the patience and grace one needs be a successful teacher.

I did help out one girl who wanted to learn and she immediately started trying to sell/trade with the same tattooers in our town who I sell/trade to so that kind of soured me pretty bad. When I started doing this type of embroidery 6 or 7 years ago I'd do google searches all the time and there was maybe one or two other people doing similar shit. Now if you google tattoo embroidery it's like looking through every shitty tattooer's portfolio. There are of course a couple other people who do rad shit but you know how it goes when something gets popular.

And yeah bubble the TLC thing is totally different than the frustrations I've been feeling surround the embroidery community

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I guess if the market is getting heavy with cheap rip-off's the question begs, what is your next step ? If you love it so much that you want it to always be a positive part of your life you will probably find that keeping one step ahead of the crowd is going to be the hardest part. Its going to be pretty hard to do that by focusing on what others are doing, so you have to focus on what you can do, and how it can be bigger and bolder.

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i see both sides very clearly, but still my instinct and the way that i view it is to keep your secrets. dont feel bad about it! its your business and i think to have your secrets as well as the quality of your work will keep you at the top of your craft (btw when i saw the quality in your needlework on Daris patch i was blown away-again- by your work!!). Pats idea of a well worded let down is great and a must do. :)

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I'm not focusing on what others are doing, but every artists needs to keep up to date about what's going on in their field. As of right now I havnt seen anyone using paint in their tattoo embroideries (except one piece that was pretty bad).

The main advantage I have is access to good reference. Most of the general public knows about sailor Jerry and Ed hardy and that's it. A lot of the people doing it are just googling "anchor tattoo drawing" and printing off really shitty line drawings. I know where the black goes in a rose. They never will.

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Well if there are so few doing what you are doing, then hold on to the info, and if you can expand upon it. I have no idea what embroidery en-tales, but I am sure there are many ways to incorporate different mediums, so while they are busy working out how you do what you do ( and they will) you will be moving onto something even cooler.

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Thanks Alanna I appreciate the compliment. I made her embroidery so long ago but it's still one I like and hopefully I've just continued to improve since then.

But I didn't start this to just draw attention to my work haha. I really have been struggling with this lately. I've been seeing some of the most popular embroidery blogs posting some really shitty tattoo style stuff lately and then having these girls just wanting to know what paint, what kind of fabric, where I get my designs, etc. Without even bothering to read through my blog which does give little bits of info if you pay attention. It just makes me crazy! People just don't understand that after I've spent ten hours toiling over 6" piece of fabric that I'm then trying to sell it's not cool to be like "OMG HOW DID YOU MAKE THIS!!!! "

I felt this would be a good place to vent because I figured most people here felt the same way about the art they make. I mean I kind of knew most people would be on the 'no sharing with random tards' tip.

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Well if there are so few doing what you are doing, then hold on to the info, and if you can expand upon it. I have no idea what embroidery en-tales, but I am sure there are many ways to incorporate different mediums, so while they are busy working out how you do what you do ( and they will) you will be moving onto something even cooler.

Yup that's exactly what I've been trying to do

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The fact that they have their own blogs about something then they come to you, for information they will no doubt blog about sort of changes the playing field. I would not be sharing anything with anyone who blogs about something, professing to understand that which they do not. That sort of sucks.

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The only thing I do that is probably considered artistic is tying my own flies for fishing. I have a couple of killer flies. I wouldn't tell anyone how I tie them. I put long hours in learning techniques...spent weeks and months finding the right materials...I did it on my own. I'm not sharing.

If I was Ursula I wouldn't tell anybody shit.

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OMG cfgsteak nice fly!!!! Tell me how you made it so I can make a far more inferior product and sell it to all my friends and family for less than what the supplies even cost!!! So you know that way they wont have to get one from you who actually knows what the fuck he's doing .....

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Is TLC not a bit different?

Oh yeah mate, for real it's different. I did say that, but I'm guessing you kind of skimmed through when you were reading what I said. No worries, I do that all the time.

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OK here's the thing Bubbleberry. You aren't a tattooer. Not that your opinion isn't valid, but try to understand things from this perspective:

Among craftsmen, information is the true currency. It's why master woodworkers, calligraphers, metal smiths, violin makers etc. guarded their secrets. It's keeps the things that you do special. When everyone knows everything, what is special? Thats why the Stradivarius violin is what it is and not just some normal violin.

When I was in my apprenticeship my teachers told me things. Very valuable things that helped me in my journey. Things I still think about today. One had been tattooing 14 years and the other 9. They had accumulated a lot of experience. They made mistakes, figured some things out, talked and worked with other tattooers, and had a chance to see a lot of things they did age and make adjustments to compensate. When they taught me stuff, they put their faith in me that I wouldn't just treat the things they passed on as just stuff to talk about or things to say when you want other dudes to know that you know what you're talking about. It was truly valuable and needed to be seen and treated as such.

I had very good friends working at other shops in town on their own similar beginning adventures in tattooing, and I never told them any of the shit my bosses told me even if I thought it would help. Which was hard, but here's the thing. It wasn't my secrets to tell. As much as I would like to help someone out that I think might benefit from a hint or two, it's not my information to tell. I couldn't betray that. It's what keeps it valuable and helps keep that bond between student and teacher sacred. I truly believe that. That's maybe why so many of us are up in arms about the tattoo school thing. Because we may have gone through the student/teacher apprenticeships, and value that. I'm proud of my lineage. They aren't huge name dudes or anything, but I think that are some of the best tattooers I know. My stuff has a look to it that you can trace back to the people I worked with and learned from and that's important. It keeps things rich. It's the best way to cultivate and nurture tattooing as a whole. My stuff may not be the best stuff out there, but it's mine, and what's mine is a combination of the people who taught me, and I'm proud of that.

Think about your wife. She's going through her very own apprenticeship. What about the accumulated knowledge that her teacher is passing on to her. Should she not hold that in truly high regard? Shouldn't she keep his secrets and put them to good use? She is now part of his lineage. That's not something to take lightly. That information is valuable and she should treat is as such.

That's not to say that you can't ever mention it. Trading bits of information between craftsmen is another way to honor the value of the knowledge, AND that gives me the privilege of being able to go back to my teachers and tell them what i've learned as a part of the way you can pay them back for giving you so much in the first place.

As craftsmen we meet up at conventions, guest spots, shop visits on vacations, writing to each other, and we can sometimes trade portions of information to each other and we can in turn use these in our own ways and it helps keep tattooing robust and alive. It helps us form bonds between each other. However even in those situations I try to hold back certain aspects of the info, as do the people on the other side. It keeps the level of mystery, not in a mystical sense, but in the sense that we now have to figure out the key to unlock this particular piece of knowledge, and sometimes we find our own key and use for it.

Tattooing is different than most things in that it's still a largely master/apprentice craft. True a lot of tattooers came in through different means but most of them respect the apprenticeship as the proper way, and although more tattooers than not shouldn't actually be giving apprenticeships since they aren't really cut out for it, and we have too many to begin with already, it's still the proper way. That is part of the tradition that, at least I hold in very high regard.

Ursula, if you're paying for info, that you've in turn used to help you create something unique, then yes you should see it in that light. Hold it back. People ask and ask, but that shows you just how valuable and special your stuff is. Let them find their own secrets. Now if you are meeting up with other people and can trade parts of things for more info, then good on you.

I could write more on this subject but I think I need food right now. I'm sure smarter people than me can expound in a better way.

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I could write more on this subject but I think I need food right now. I'm sure smarter people than me can expound in a better way.

Nope, I think that pretty much sums everything up across multiple threads in a very succinct, respectful, helpful and constructive way.

I was also thinking about this today when I was out, and while I did say "fuck em, don't say anything," I do think if you have a close friend or some sort of "fellow embroidery colleague" with whom you get along really well and establish some kind of awesome working relationship with, then it's only natural to want to share and learn, on both ends. But that's not really advice or anything, just something that'd obviously grow out of it.. Also, CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME WHAT PAINTS YOU USE AND THE BRUSHES FOR PAINTING ON YOUR SEWINGS AND WHO I COULD MAYBE REFERENCE FOR SKULLZ AND ANKURZ, LIKE MAYBE THIS ED HARDY HAT I HAVE K THX LOL!

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yeah i 100% agree with sharing with those who 'deserve' to be shared with (ie: colleagues and close friends) I also have no problem telling tattooers (who arn't dick holes) what it is because they have no use and well i owe the tattoo community a lot cause they sure have shared a lot of secrets and art with me. I'm not going to post it online though because then anyone can read it..

i mostly was curious is people were gonna say no don't tell them, or yes tell them about the paint but not about the technique or mixing formulas... i was also curious to see if anyone would suggest giving miss-information as i know some tattooers have done to idiots hahaha.... I have no problem telling me what kind of paint, just not what brand...... i havn't had anyone ask about the brushes which is good because it does play a huge role in how the paint goes on...

and just to clear it up a bit the $1000 was not just for learning what paint to buy, it was got a 4 day course which included lessons on map making, finishing your needleworks (like how to finish the edges as well as framing) painting on fabric and all that goes with that, and i also learned a bunch of new embroidery techniques and stitches... i also had no problem telling the people in that class where i get my designs and that kind of stuff, most of them had never seen or really knew of tattoo flash before (i was the youngest by about 15 years and i was 25 at the time).. in return they shared with me their knowledge of the craft and i was grateful for it as many of them had been embroidering since before i was born

most of my painting technique comes from watching my man paint though, so i owe that to tattooing and won't be giving out any spit shading secrets to anyone haha

so everyone knows, i'm not claiming to be the BEST at embroidery or painting... there are a couple others who do amazing tattoo related work... and many many many who do other types of embroidery that are far far better than I.

it's kind of one of those things were yeah i could tell you what paint to use, but you still won't know where to get good reference or know how to mix the paint to the right consistency or what brushes or how to prepare the fabric to be painted... so do i tell them what kind of paint and then laugh at the bad attempts, or so i not even give that much up... but i've pretty much decided to go along with what everyone else has been saying and stick to my rule of not telling anyone unless they are a close colleague or friend

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A professional magician once showed me how to perform a trick.

When I told him I thought things like that were secret, he said that a concert pianist can impart tips and hints to a layman because he can never be a concert pianist.

I think that's what Ursula just said.

If a harmlessly curious/nervous/interested tattoo customer asks me why Im doing something or what that nice smelling liquid is, I tell them and often quietly explain why.

When a nosey customer/wannabe tattooer/apprentice asks what needles or ink I'm using, I tell them its a big sharp one and it's monkey piss, or it's red.

I share pretty much everything with my colleagues and peers because that's how I learned almost everything I know.

I guess that's a long-winded way of saying "I agree"

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OK here's the thing Bubbleberry. You aren't a tattooer. Not that your opinion isn't valid, but try to understand things from this perspective:

Among craftsmen, information is the true currency. It's why master woodworkers, calligraphers, metal smiths, violin makers etc. guarded their secrets. It's keeps the things that you do special. When everyone knows everything, what is special? Thats why the Stradivarius violin is what it is and not just some normal violin.

When I was in my apprenticeship my teachers told me things. Very valuable things that helped me in my journey. Things I still think about today. One had been tattooing 14 years and the other 9. They had accumulated a lot of experience. They made mistakes, figured some things out, talked and worked with other tattooers, and had a chance to see a lot of things they did age and make adjustments to compensate. When they taught me stuff, they put their faith in me that I wouldn't just treat the things they passed on as just stuff to talk about or things to say when you want other dudes to know that you know what you're talking about. It was truly valuable and needed to be seen and treated as such.

I had very good friends working at other shops in town on their own similar beginning adventures in tattooing, and I never told them any of the shit my bosses told me even if I thought it would help. Which was hard, but here's the thing. It wasn't my secrets to tell. As much as I would like to help someone out that I think might benefit from a hint or two, it's not my information to tell. I couldn't betray that. It's what keeps it valuable and helps keep that bond between student and teacher sacred. I truly believe that. That's maybe why so many of us are up in arms about the tattoo school thing. Because we may have gone through the student/teacher apprenticeships, and value that. I'm proud of my lineage. They aren't huge name dudes or anything, but I think that are some of the best tattooers I know. My stuff has a look to it that you can trace back to the people I worked with and learned from and that's important. It keeps things rich. It's the best way to cultivate and nurture tattooing as a whole. My stuff may not be the best stuff out there, but it's mine, and what's mine is a combination of the people who taught me, and I'm proud of that.

Think about your wife. She's going through her very own apprenticeship. What about the accumulated knowledge that her teacher is passing on to her. Should she not hold that in truly high regard? Shouldn't she keep his secrets and put them to good use? She is now part of his lineage. That's not something to take lightly. That information is valuable and she should treat is as such.

That's not to say that you can't ever mention it. Trading bits of information between craftsmen is another way to honor the value of the knowledge, AND that gives me the privilege of being able to go back to my teachers and tell them what i've learned as a part of the way you can pay them back for giving you so much in the first place.

As craftsmen we meet up at conventions, guest spots, shop visits on vacations, writing to each other, and we can sometimes trade portions of information to each other and we can in turn use these in our own ways and it helps keep tattooing robust and alive. It helps us form bonds between each other. However even in those situations I try to hold back certain aspects of the info, as do the people on the other side. It keeps the level of mystery, not in a mystical sense, but in the sense that we now have to figure out the key to unlock this particular piece of knowledge, and sometimes we find our own key and use for it.

Tattooing is different than most things in that it's still a largely master/apprentice craft. True a lot of tattooers came in through different means but most of them respect the apprenticeship as the proper way, and although more tattooers than not shouldn't actually be giving apprenticeships since they aren't really cut out for it, and we have too many to begin with already, it's still the proper way. That is part of the tradition that, at least I hold in very high regard.

Ursula, if you're paying for info, that you've in turn used to help you create something unique, then yes you should see it in that light. Hold it back. People ask and ask, but that shows you just how valuable and special your stuff is. Let them find their own secrets. Now if you are meeting up with other people and can trade parts of things for more info, then good on you.

I could write more on this subject but I think I need food right now. I'm sure smarter people than me can expound in a better way.

On reflection, I have to agree. Through the years my friends who were artists told me anything I wanted to know, as they knew I was never going to become an artist, and because they knew that I was part of a circle of friends that they would be happy to discuss this stuff with. I guess I never thought about protecting their secrets, because it was never an issue. But my wife was telling me this evening that occasionally her mentor will explain something that he says took years for him to discover or that he learned from someone else he had known for years. While he has never said it is a "secret" she knows not to go sharing it with others.

I think for me its still hard to know what is a secret and what is not. The dvd thing for example, I had no idea what the dvd was about, and while the title said "secrets" my mind simply saw it as a marketing slogan... To be honest, I now cannot understand why MS would make such a video, money aside, given that it can have a detrimental impact on his industry while alienating his peers?

Anyhow, Ursula, sorry for hijacking the thread.

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Ursula, I'm glad you've decided to say "fuck em" to those who you don't think should know certain things. Everyone with an internet connection thinks they're a fucking expert on anything, so it's cool to still have some things out there that you can't find out easily.

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OK here's the thing Bubbleberry. You aren't a tattooer. Not that your opinion isn't valid, but try to understand things from this perspective:

Among craftsmen, information is the true currency. It's why master woodworkers, calligraphers, metal smiths, violin makers etc. guarded their secrets. It's keeps the things that you do special. When everyone knows everything, what is special? Thats why the Stradivarius violin is what it is and not just some normal violin.

When I was in my apprenticeship my teachers told me things. Very valuable things that helped me in my journey. Things I still think about today. One had been tattooing 14 years and the other 9. They had accumulated a lot of experience. They made mistakes, figured some things out, talked and worked with other tattooers, and had a chance to see a lot of things they did age and make adjustments to compensate. When they taught me stuff, they put their faith in me that I wouldn't just treat the things they passed on as just stuff to talk about or things to say when you want other dudes to know that you know what you're talking about. It was truly valuable and needed to be seen and treated as such.

I had very good friends working at other shops in town on their own similar beginning adventures in tattooing, and I never told them any of the shit my bosses told me even if I thought it would help. Which was hard, but here's the thing. It wasn't my secrets to tell. As much as I would like to help someone out that I think might benefit from a hint or two, it's not my information to tell. I couldn't betray that. It's what keeps it valuable and helps keep that bond between student and teacher sacred. I truly believe that. That's maybe why so many of us are up in arms about the tattoo school thing. Because we may have gone through the student/teacher apprenticeships, and value that. I'm proud of my lineage. They aren't huge name dudes or anything, but I think that are some of the best tattooers I know. My stuff has a look to it that you can trace back to the people I worked with and learned from and that's important. It keeps things rich. It's the best way to cultivate and nurture tattooing as a whole. My stuff may not be the best stuff out there, but it's mine, and what's mine is a combination of the people who taught me, and I'm proud of that.

Think about your wife. She's going through her very own apprenticeship. What about the accumulated knowledge that her teacher is passing on to her. Should she not hold that in truly high regard? Shouldn't she keep his secrets and put them to good use? She is now part of his lineage. That's not something to take lightly. That information is valuable and she should treat is as such.

That's not to say that you can't ever mention it. Trading bits of information between craftsmen is another way to honor the value of the knowledge, AND that gives me the privilege of being able to go back to my teachers and tell them what i've learned as a part of the way you can pay them back for giving you so much in the first place.

As craftsmen we meet up at conventions, guest spots, shop visits on vacations, writing to each other, and we can sometimes trade portions of information to each other and we can in turn use these in our own ways and it helps keep tattooing robust and alive. It helps us form bonds between each other. However even in those situations I try to hold back certain aspects of the info, as do the people on the other side. It keeps the level of mystery, not in a mystical sense, but in the sense that we now have to figure out the key to unlock this particular piece of knowledge, and sometimes we find our own key and use for it.

Tattooing is different than most things in that it's still a largely master/apprentice craft. True a lot of tattooers came in through different means but most of them respect the apprenticeship as the proper way, and although more tattooers than not shouldn't actually be giving apprenticeships since they aren't really cut out for it, and we have too many to begin with already, it's still the proper way. That is part of the tradition that, at least I hold in very high regard.

Ursula, if you're paying for info, that you've in turn used to help you create something unique, then yes you should see it in that light. Hold it back. People ask and ask, but that shows you just how valuable and special your stuff is. Let them find their own secrets. Now if you are meeting up with other people and can trade parts of things for more info, then good on you.

I could write more on this subject but I think I need food right now. I'm sure smarter people than me can expound in a better way.

^^^^^^^^^^gospel^^^^^^^^^^

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