Read the editorial by Miki Vialetto published on the brand new issue of Tattoo Life magazine (May/June 2020):
I’ve been very fortunate in my life: I’ve had the satisfaction of seeing my name inextricably linked to two projects that I created and continue to move forward personally. In the tattooing sector, Miki Vialetto is Tattoo Life. And, together with Marcus Berriman, Miki Vialetto is also the London Tattoo Convention. Both projects have stood both the tests of time and the competition, and have positioned themselves as a benchmark for everyone who loves tattooing. Whether in print or on the internet, Tattoo Life serves as a filter for tattoo art; it holds onto what’s best and puts it back into circulation using its own channels. Each year, the London convention allows over 20,000 visitors to experience tattooing up close. However, filtering the best of tattooing in the best way possible is no easy task. Criticism and discontent from other people has always existed, and always will. But in the end, London continues to be the mirror of contemporary tattooing. And I take pride in that fact. This is why I think it’s appropriate to share the rulebook that I’ve devised for myself and follow each year, so that I can carry out my task in the best way possible.
You can’t buy a stand at the London Convention. Tattooists gain access by invitation only, after I’ve viewed the work of all the candidates, or of all the artists I’ve discovered personally during the research I conduct every day throughout the year.
When I evaluate tattooists, the number of followers they have on social media doesn’t matter to me. I’ve accepted tattooists with 3,000 followers and refused others who’ve had over 400,000 followers.
Every style and every technique – from all over the world – must be represented at the convention. I prefer tattooists who have created their own style rather than those who limit themselves to copying a style. In fact, I often encounter tattooists whose work is technically perfect, but who simply repeat what a few other tattooists have invented. Their profiles on social media are photocopies of other artists. When this happens, and I discover elements that clearly have been copied, it doesn’t make sense for me to invite them.
A very important aspect in choosing tattooists has to do with the use of Photoshop for the photos of their tattoos. I understand the use of certain polarizing filters – if they’re used properly – but when I see that tattooists are clearly being excessive in their use of Photoshop to present their works, it’s highly unlikely that I will invite them to participate, unless I’m already familiar with the tattooist’s work personally. I want to see real tattoos, and not have to imagine what they could be like in real life.
Like all successful festivals, I like there to be something exclusive about the artists who come to London. A tattooist who participates in loads of conventions is less interesting to me than someone who knows how to choose only the best ones to participate in.
I’m proud to invite tattooists who have made tattoo history, whether culturally or through their own work. However, I’m not interested in whether a tattooist has participated in TV programs, or won lots of awards, or has certain sponsors.
I do take into consideration people who broadly support my work, at 360°.
If a tattooist has participated in London for many years, this won’t necessarily happen forever. Tattooing is always evolving, new entries become more and more talented, and the bar of tattooing is raised year after year. So sometimes tattooists who aren’t keeping up with the times aren’t invited anymore, also because this allows me to bring in and present other artists.
Respect for ethical tattooing, first and foremost. If I see a tattooist do a post on social media while tattooing the face of a twenty year-old who’s got very few tattoos, I won’t invite him or her. Even if they are top-level. This is because I feel personally responsible for everything that happens during this three-day convention, also from an ethical standpoint.
I’m the first person to make sure that even the smallest walk-in tattoo is done with respect, and with all the care and attention that every piece on skin deserves. And I also make sure tattooists honor the convention’s schedule and take care of the stands they work in. Just like I do in general, regarding everyone who comes to this three-day convention.
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Don’t miss the full preview of Tattoo Life May/June 2020’s issue on this website tomorrow!