Today it is absolutely normal to speak about custom tattoo and we could go so far as to say that tattoo is now absolutely custom, personalised for just one client.
The concept of custom tattoo first appeared in the 70s and it caught on immediately, marking the beginning of that spontaneous and unstoppable movement which led to the desire to generate art and culture on the tattoo scene. Since then, tattooists have felt the need to (at least try) to leave their mark in the field, to make a creative contribution to tattoo.
Each with an imprint of their own, the fruit of diverse influences and inspirations, has tried to “produce culture” and in a certain sense historicize their work.
I’ve thought long and hard about what it means for a tattooist to grow in such a way as to make their years of work into an experience that is constructive and meaningful (for themselves, for their clients, but also for the sector as a whole). Reading about the experience and reflections of Mike Rubendall in the article in this issue on his Kings Avenue Tattoo Shop gave me food for thought.
One thing in particular stood out for me from what he said: how the time horizon changes according to your experience. If you are only starting out, or when you haven’t been working that long, the time horizon doesn’t go beyond the week, but when you have acquired a certain maturity in your work, then and only then the timescale stretches and planning becomes a fundamental aspect in order to manage everything as well as possible.
Everything, and it is fleeting, you acquire patience and a certain awareness of the fact that to get results you need to allow yourself time. And so you learn to manage the day to day but also to truly become a professional.
And this year it has been more useful than ever to have a long term perspective.
Not being able to work and having to wait for this situation to blow over has been really hard for everyone, but for some it has been utterly devastating. I have come to the conclusion that having the maturity to know how to manage personal issues on a day to day basis but also deal with out of the ordinary situations such as the one that has involved the entire world, well, above and beyond all the artistic flair and talent a tattooist might have, that is one of those aspects which show whether or not you are a true professional.