Dear Illegal Hacks,
Although I've never met you, I've become very familiar with your tattooing. I've repaired and covered your messes and empathized with your victims. I've heard the stories, listened intently and cringed at the way you do things. I can't decide who's more to blame, the sucker seeking a cheap tattoo or the inexpereinced hack with no moral integridy.
I know, I know, I've done my fair share of bootleg tattooing over the course of 23 years and I openly admit my hypocrisy. I got my start in Massachusetts when tattooing was illegal here from the local illegal bootlegger. I get it. I really do BUT....
My home tattooing was always an interim situation between working in real shops.
Licensed and insured shops.
With other tattooers with more experience than me.
I never had the stagnant goal of not taking my craft serious enough to get legal.
Showing respect to those who came before you is part of this trade.
It's not hard to see who has respect for the craft and who's just arrogantly abusing people for money.
BUT in order to share space with other tattooers one must be accountable for their work and their moral compass. Humility is about as rare as common sense. So, when I hear all about local hacks setting up shop in their kids bedrooms with no intention of ever working for or towards a legitimate tattoo studio, I get a little pissy these days. I pay out every penny I earn to maintain a clean, legitimate and comfortable studio with the best most expensive products and equipment not for ME but for my clients. I care about them. They deserve to be treated well. To give them anything less is an insult to them and a big "fuck you" to the thousands of tattooers who paved the way for this special craft.
Anyone tattooing legally in Massachusetts has taken the courses necessary to understand human anatomy, blood borne pathogens, CPR, basic first aid - all things that are necessary when dealing with bloody procedures. It makes sense to have these credentials. For a tattooer not to care about these things is frightening.
Anyone who runs a legitimate business knows the flaming hoops -with money in hand- you have to jump through in order to stay on top of your goals, every month!
So, when I see this hacks work all over desperate people coming into my shop to fix it and hear the stories of this person’s abuse, the old timer in me wants to evoke the tattoo mafia and take some thumbs. I care more about you stopping this madness or getting some real humility than making money off of reworking or covering your crap. It makes me want to cry hearing a story about you not being capable of placing a symmetrical tattoo properly so now a young woman has to see your careless inconsiderate crocked work on her in the mirror everyday for the rest of her life. Sure, she's partly responsible for not running from your house but as a practitioner of this sacred craft you give us all a bad name by not giving a shit in a bazillion ways.
So, tattooing at home, I get it. Sorta. No wait, not anymore...there's enough shops all over the world to get a job and learn the right way to do things. I think that permanently tattooing at home, illegally with no intention to ever get legal, pay your dues in a real shop and learn the trade from those who have paved the way is a really shitty thing to do and you should be a ashamed of yourselves. Also, you may just end up in jail so I'd watch your Asses. Or better yet, keep doing what you’re doing because you will get shut down.