“It never ceases to amaze me,” said Dick, entering the room while I was watching TV, “what you’ll glom onto and become obsessed with.”
I was watching my third or fourth tattoo show of the day.
I think it might have been Tattoo Nightmares where artists Tommy Helm, Jasmine Rodriguez, and Big Gus, preform cover-up magic on tattoos that should have never happened, while we watch hyper dramatizations of the unfortunate original tattoo affair.
Or maybe it was Bad Ink, the Las Vegas-based show where Dirk Vermin and his pal Ruckus find people with bad tattoos walking about in Las Vegas, and invite them back to their shop for a tattoo makeover. (I love that Dirk hired a transvestite princess for his daughter’s birthday party.)
It could have been Ink Master, one of two competition shows I’m aware of on TV right now.
Best Ink, the other competition show I watch was on hiatus so I know it wasn’t that.
I also know it wasn’t Tattoo Rescue (which is like Tattoo Nightmares meets Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares with a little bit of Tabitha Takes Over).
You get the idea. I love watching people make art (and will put up with silly dramatizations), and tattoos are art.
What ensued was a rather long discussion in which I explained all I’d learned about the tattoo industry and tattooing (because every so often they do address technical issues, albeit in a superficial way—but you can always follow up with more research).
I think it would be incredibly difficult work, but fun, and discussing this I explained to Dick why I would have to change my name to Little Chick. And then I went off and drew my logo. It just makes sense (if you’d been watching all these shows it would make sense to you too).
During that process I researched some online font generators for tattoo artists (you can use them too, they’re interactive and fun).
And that investigation of lettering styles led me to the lettering artist Glen Weisgerber.
You must go and watch his video on roundhand lettering (which is the link I've provided). Weisgerber's work has nothing to do with tattoos (well except that he has some tattoos) but the guy is a genius. If you care about lettering you have to watch him. His technique is so beautiful I actually started to cry.
(You should also watch Glen Weisgerber's demo of Single Stroke Lettering.)
Then I went back to researching tattooing.
I won’t be pursuing a career in the tattoo arts any time soon. It seems that nobody wants a tattoo from someone who doesn’t have a tattoo. While this seems short sighted to me (I would want a tattoo from the best artist who’s made the most tattoos), I understand that every community has its rules and conventions.
While I can’t count the number of bikers I’ve gone up to in the grocery store check out line to inquire about the artwork on their arms, I’ve never wanted a tattoo. My acupuncturist told me it messes up your qi, and frankly my qi is already messed up enough.
But even before I had an acupuncturist or thought about things like qi, I never wanted a tattoo because I’m fickle. What if one day I decided I wanted a different style, or different subject matter. There’s a lot in my life that is long lasting, like my relationships to people and dogs, but I’m attracted to too many artistic styles to ever settle on anything for my skin. That seems too permanent.
Even if I could settle on something (now that I’ve done a lot of research and found work by some amazing artists), I know it’s a moot point—I develop keloids at the least abrasion. Always have. And let’s not even start thinking about the allergic reactions to the ink.
I still watch the tattoo shows because I love watching artists work. But I put away dreams of being Little Chick and went back to the problems and fun of piecemeal sketches and paintings.
I call it associative immersion. Dick thinks of it as enthusiastic wonder. You never know where these paths are going to take you. I think you should follow as many of these paths as possible, going as deeply as you can. I think these paths connect us to what is happening in the world and how other people think about everything—narrowed to the specific you’re investigating. All of that is going to inspire you by causing you to rethink your own attitudes, notions, and artistic approach.