The time when artists would come to me in my office with their portfolio of tattoos, a hefty or slim volume of photographs of varying quality, is long gone. Replaced by Instagram. This is where every tattooist creates their identity and a page of their work to put on display.
So now it is no longer the talent of the artist or the review of the expert but an algorithm which dictates how the portfolio is received. And if the algorithm which decides the success or failure of a tattooist changes, bringing one thing to the forefront in the place of another, well then we all adjust accordingly to the dogmas of publication which ensure the best outcome, i.e. more views.
It now happens that, once the photos (usually cropped, touched up and modified to win the favour of followers) are no longer garnering the same success and the eagerly sought likes begin to fall, many tattooists, desperate for followers, have stopped posting photos of their work, jettisoning static images for videos where they increasingly appear in situations which are supposed to be funny but, in my humble opinion, more often than not end up being simply embarrassing.
It seems clear to me that many no longer seek the fame which leads to success by demonstrating what excellent work they are capable of but feel that it is the number of followers which separates the wheat from the chaff.
Something I personally find ridiculous because we all know that you need only pay to get greater visibility and thus more followers on social media.
Above and beyond the embarrassing situation of people making cringeworthy videos, what I am really sorry to see is that as a result of all of this it is becoming ever more difficult to understand the true artistic value of a tattooist. In my research I realise how much time I waste watching pretty woeful scenes on video before I catch a glimpse, and a brief one at that, of an actual tattoo. I find it utterly incredible and putting myself in the shoes of a potential client trying to understand what kind of work a tattooist does, I think it is absolutely impossible to get an idea of how good they are unless you can enlarge an image to study the details.
In the wake of the filters, Photoshop and all the imaginable editing processes for photos, here we are at the new frontier on the tattoo scene: a horde of circus performers who will do just about anything to get more views, with reels, videos and ridiculous comedy sketches. And if there happens to be a space between one video and the next, there you might find a photo of a tattoo, just to fill in the gap. I am often contacted by tattooists who want to take part at Gods of Ink or would like to do an interview with Tattoo Life. They ask me to take a look at their profile and when I do, all I see is mediocrity. And it breaks my heart to see that all the fuss on the social media platform of the moment has wiped any trace of reality.