Interpretation of Community
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Art is subjective to our own interpretation. The majority of people will want to interpret their own body art themselves, but what about the ones that take solace in having the same signature piece that’s repeated from the respective artist? Is it fashion? Do they fall into the category of trends? I don’t think so, I believe it’s the most powerful thing in tattoo culture – it’s community.

The ‘walk-ups available’ sign at a convention is the tattoo collectors dream, especially when you have been waiting for a desired artist. One such tattooist is Paul Terry of Bold Street, Warrington. I have personally seen at conventions, a queue at Paul’s booth waiting for his amazing talent but preferably one of his signature roses. They have almost become a cult following. A difference of colours and shape separates the designs, but still noticeably a Paul Terry rose. The cult following has progressed to a community of Terry’s roses.

No other artist has created a community from one tattoo more than the dark work master Nick Devine, with his titled ‘Society Stoppers’ – a simple black scratchy cross in his demented style. Nick says it’s up to the individual to interpretative the piece, but I do like his many philosophical ideas behind it.

Nick Devine, Helter Slelter tattoo studio, St.Helens, UK
Nick Devine, Helter Slelter tattoo studio, St.Helens, UK

One such idea is it’s an X out of society’s daily pollution of influence social media, news, politics. Almost as if you yourself have made the X on a ballot slip. We are a generation of signing on the dotted line. I personally like the idea that with one simple form of expression I can say that I won’t stand to attention. People from all walks of life have come to Nick at conventions, guests spots and his studio Helter Skelter in St. Helens, to be part of this movement. One of my favourite explanations to the ‘Society Stopper’ is a customer that had one on each knee and her interpretation – ‘Kneel to no one’.

Nick Devine, Helter Slelter tattoo studio, St.Helens, UK
Nick Devine, Helter Slelter tattoo studio, St.Helens, UK

Whether we have these bangers to appreciate the artists signature logo or to mark ourselves out of the norm, we can be sure if it’s not a one off or if more than one person is having it, then it’s part of something much bigger – it’s a community.

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