I often think about writing on this blog about how tattooing used to be. Not in a nostalgic or rosy tinged attempt to make myself seem more old-school and therefore, somehow, cooler. In fact I believe that tattooing is just about the best it has even been right now, maybe I want to write one of these “how it was” pieces to show how hard I used to have it or how much work i had to do to get where I am today. I don’t really think it’s that either though.
Maybe its nothing more complicated than wanting to see my own memories and experiences up on this screen. maybe I feel like if I trot out all the anecdotes and minutia of my tattooing career it will make it more real. I can solidify the past in my head into some form of concrete series of events. I’m afraid that may be the reason ive been wanting to write on here about the past. It makes me feel old, it’s what old people do it seems. Struggle fruitlessly to make younger people somehow impressed with what was, to try to convey the unconveyable feeling of our own experiences to another in such a way that we imagine the reader will sit up and say “Oh my god that is so interesting!!!”
Somewhere in the back of my mind is this idea that in order to understand who i am someone must know all this stuff that occurred to me and that in my head seems so important. I know, however, that this isn’t really necessary.
When you apply a tattoo there may be all kinds of things in your head, new techniques, a bad morning, your impending wedding, a similar tattoo you want to try to surpass, but at the end of the day when you wipe the skin clean and that person walks out the door the tattoo can only stand or fall based on how it looks. A stranger looking at a tattoo doesn’t care that it was applied in the morning or the weekend or in Paris or Utah, the tattoo represents itself, it speaks for itself minus any explanation from the artist or (in the majority of cases) the wearer.As it sits their on a body it is its own explanation, you can’t describe the taste of chocolate to someone who has never eaten it, they just have to try it to know and you can’t explain a tattoo , it must just be itself an explanation of itself.
And so it is with us. Our pasts may have been terrible or easy, lovely or horrible, but what stand before you now is just the person in that moment. You don’t need to know what it was like to love or hate me, what i do in that moment we make contact is, what you directly experience of me is all that really matters at this moment.
These days when I write a new post it goes to facebook and any of my ‘friends’ is notified that I’ve written some new piece of drivel here. Well and good, but I am afraid that lately its made mea bit gun-shy with the posting. its one thing to imagine that a few relative strangers will be reading whatever lunacy I come up with it’s a whole nother to imagine my friends, my customers, my mom or dad reading this stuff. It embarrassing sometimes. I don’t want this to turn into just another way I show off my tattoos, I like exploring my thoughts and ideas via this blog, but it is a bit intimidating to imagine that one of my brothers might be reading this and thinking “what a pretentious dickbag”. I guess it is just what anyone who writes or makes art from their inner world has to accept. I’m sure at some point Robert Mappelthorpes mom called him and said “Oh Robbie I just saw that picture of the enormous black mans penis, you did such a good job lighting that!”
So maybe I want to tell these stories of the old days or punk rock and tattooing in its raw early renaissance to justify my rambling on here, to make it ok that im still cool and tough and justified when it feels scary to push the “publish” button. I’ll do my best to avoid it, like the old timers business card used to say “my work speaks for itself.