ModBlog News of the Week: July 9th, 2011

Thanks to some ISP issues this week will be a “better late than never” edition.

Thanks to the wonders of social media, my inbox and facebook wall have been slammed with links about this first story.  Justifiably so, as it has the potential to affect not only the community, but also anyone interested in getting tattooed in the future.  I honestly wish I was using hyperbole there, but in reality, this actually can have a big impact on the tattooing industry.  I’m sure by now you know what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t heard yet, TLC is planning on airing a new series starting next week called “Tattoo School”.  The show’s description reads:

Award-winning Tattoo Artist Lisa Fasulo runs a hands-on and unconventional tattoo school in upstate NY where students from all walks of life learn how to tattoo in just two weeks. These rookie students are seeking to change their lives through tattooing. With just two intense weeks under Lisa’s instruction, they will get the experience tattooing on body after body with artwork of varying levels of difficulty.  Rookie students, models risking their skin to first time body artists, a rebellious instructor and unconventional training…who will bear the drama of competition and survive?

So according to them anyone can pick up a machine and learn to tattoo in 2 weeks.  It also looks like they’re stepping up the “drama” to make good TV by adding some kind of competition factor.  Who can last the full 2 weeks?  As if 2 weeks is somehow a long time to learn to tattoo.  It’s this point here that most people have a problem with.  TLC’s programming has been consistently portraying the tattoo industry as a drama filled joke where legitimate artists are used as pawns in a scripted soap opera, with the work taking a back seat.  On top of that this new show will give viewers the impression that anyone can learn to tattoo in a couple of weeks.

This isn’t about having to “pay your dues” or doing bitch work at a shop in order to earn your apprenticeship, this is about taking a legitimate trade/artform and misinforming people about it.  Learning to tattoo takes a long time, months to years.  Learning to tattoo well takes a lot longer.

Putting that aside for the moment, lets take a look at the larger ramifications of this television series and the school it is promoting.  A large number of studios won’t take an artist who only has 2 weeks of experience, this means that the graduates from this program will be forced to find other ways to continue to tattoo, which inevitably will lead to tattooing out of their home.  I don’t think I need to explain anything beyond that.  As for the show, it will give people the idea that all it takes is a machine and a few hours of practice to know what to do.  With the availability of machines on e-bay, as well as those “tattoo starter kits”, there could be an increase of the number of people who think “well if they can learn everything in 2 weeks, it must be easy”.  They then go out, get a kit, and start working from home.  Taking a look at the school’s website, here is what students will be receiving for their almost 5 thousand dollar tuition:

What does the tuition include?

* A professional tattoo machine.
* 80 Hours of tattoo instruction with certified, experienced, award winning, tattoo instructors.
* FREE lodging for 2 weeks.
* Dozens of willing, prescreened human models for you to learn and practice on.
* Use of all our equipment at our State of the Art tattoo training facilities.
* Informational binder with all the important contacts and sources for all things “tattoo related”.
* DVD of machine tuning produced by the TLC staff.
* Tattoo techniques textbook
* Tattoo License permit (as per county)
* Certificate of Completion upon course graduation.
* Tattoo Learning Center T-Shirt.
* Transportation to and from the student housing daily.
* DVD with digital pictures of all the tattoos you completed while at school (enough for a beginning portfolio).
*** LOTS and LOTS of nurturing and emotional support that makes us the finest tattoo school!

You’d think that if they wanted to be a responsible school, they’d include an autoclave with tuition.  Reading through her blog post on hate mail, it seems that Lisa believes that people find this to be a bad idea simply because you need to “pay your dues”.  While that may have been the case in the past, nowadays apprentices focus mainly on the art and technique.  Sure there are a lot of people who stick to the old school methods, but that isn’t why people are opposed to this type of “school”.  What she doesn’t seem to understand is that tattooing is an artform, one that takes years to master, and to convince people that it only takes 2 weeks to teach someone is doing a disservice to the students and the profession.  It’s also highly irresponsible, and only serves to create more and more scratchers, giving legitimate artists a bad name.  With tattooing as popular as it is now, local governments are starting to pay more attention to studios, which isn’t a bad thing as most studios welcome strict health code regulations, but when the politicians hear about artists in basements spreading diseases, then you end up with studios being forced to close down because of new zoning laws preventing studios from operating.

Of course, this has caught the attention of a number of different people.  A quick google search reveals a number of studios and publications getting on board, encouraging people not to watch the program.  There is a facebook event page, a boycott page, as well as an online petition (feel free to skip the donate page).  A number of people have also taken to using this image as their facebook profile photo:

While not watching the program is a good start, Alie K (IAM: alouicious) had this to say with regards to the program:

Been seeing a lot of people changing their avatars to the ‘boycott tlc logo’. Hey, it’s great that you are unhappy about a network’s decision to produce a show that won’t do much except give people false hopes about being the ‘next Kat Von D’, but complaining about it won’t do much except make you look like a whiner.

Instead of having a black cloud looming over your head, do something PROACTIVE about it. Unhappy with TLC’s decision? CONTACT THEM! They have an ethics hotline where you can actually phone them and give them what for (though you may want to have something pre-written to follow so that you don’t fly off the handle and sound like an jabbering idiot – which of course, you are not). They also have a viewer relations link where you can type them a letter and let them know your displeasure.

Instead of typing things like, “YOUR NEW SHOW IS STUPID AND IS TAKING BUSINESS AWAY FROM ME! YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE FOR PRODUCING IT!”, which won’t do that much except maybe make someone on the other end say, “Heh heh – looks like we pissed off another one”, consider writing about what makes the tattoo industry what it is and why you feel that advertising about a school will give an individual a false sense of “yeah I can do that! Look how easy it is! A real apprenticeship takes too much time. I can’t be bothered with that”. We all know that tattooing isn’t easy in the least.

We’ve all seen tattoos done by ‘some dude in his basement’. Some of us have been asked to cover them up with a ‘real’ tattoo. Sending a ‘newly schooled’ person out into the wild with their ‘new gun so they can start tattin’ people up’ will only result in people tattooing out of their homes (because they aren’t talented enough to get into a real shop) and potentially  causing outbreaks of staph infections and worse, because these individuals are unable or unwilling to get the proper supplies to protect themselves and their clients (a dental bib is about the same as a paper towel, right?).

Perhaps we should focus our emails on health and safety issues as well as terrible tattoos that people will be complaining about the cost to cover up or laser off a few years down the line. In the mean time, REAL artists should focus on self-promotion and marketing to make themselves stand out above the sub-par, lazy, tattoo school artists. Either that, or get REALLY GOOD at doing coverups.

Courtesy of Lorin Hay:

If anyone would like to call and leave Lisa Fasulo a message of support in her new TLC Tattoo School project, her number is **1-800-466-4117 **. Show her some love!! Especially since she has blocked her Facebook account from receiving any friends request or messages, and has removed her Twitter account. Another number you can use is 518-428-4271. The listed email addresses for her are [email protected] and [email protected] and The address of the school is 1301 CURRY ROAD ROTTERDAM NY 12306

Sample emails:

Courtesy of Chris Collins:

Please do not air the Tattoo School show. It is irresponsible to let people think that just because some states have lacking heath code enforcement and education requirements that it is okay to do something as potentially dangerous as tattoo the public as an amateur. That show is a time bomb waiting for lawsuit and further more just dangerous to let the public think it’s as simple as a few hours “education” and then you are okay to to practice a somewhat invasive procedure. Please pull the plug on this.

To get in contact with TLC directly, you can find their phone contact information here: it has the contact phone number for all the countries that air TLC programming.  The US and Canada number is 1-800-398-6395.  You can also send in a written complaint via this page:

As I said earlier, this program is angering a large portion of the community.  While complaining on facebook is one thing, if you feel this does affect you negatively in some way, or you think that it is irresponsible programming, get in touch with TLC directly and let them know.  Contacting advertisers is also a way to send a message to TLC, for without advertising a program can’t stay on the air.

I’ve dedicated a big chunk of today’s news to one story already, but there is more news this week.  Keep on reading to see the rest of this week’s news.

Now in another story that ties into the today’s lead story, police in Newport, RI have issued a citation against an 18 year old tattoo artist.  It turns out that you need a license to tattoo in Newport.  Oh and that you shouldn’t set up shop in the middle of a park.

Julian Rodrigo, 18, of 195 Admiral Kalbfus Road, Newport, was issued a court summons on Saturday for illegally tattooing minors and not having a tattoo parlor license.

As part of a follow-up, police met with a the mother of a 16-year-old who Rodrigo tattooed. According to reports, she was upset because her son was able to get tattoos without her consent. She said Rodrigo was giving tattoos to juveniles in the Rolling Green area and was not licensed or trained.

Police spoke with Rodrigo, who said he did not know he needed a license, and that he had bought the equipment online. Officers came to an agreement with the reporting party that since Rodrigo had no prior criminal history and was unaware of the law that required him to have a license, to only issue him a citation.

Maybe Julian should have taken a 2 week course after buying his kit online.  Then again, not too many studios would hire an artist with 2 weeks experience and a machine bought online, so he probably would have ended up in the park anyway.

Another story that’s been hitting the social media feeds is an “interactive tattoo“.  Originally this was streamed online, but thanks to the wonders of video editing, there’s a shortened version available.  The idea behind it, is that with a QR code, an iPhone, a design company, and a corporate sponsor, you can get a tattoo that when viewed using a specific app, will animate the tattoo.

As part of whisky brand Ballantine’s “Leave an Impression” campaign, Paris-based tattoo artist Karl Marc seared a QR code onto his friend Marco’s chest.  Marc says the whisky company approached him and asked if he would be interested in executing the tattoo — a QR code that unlocked an animation when scanned — via a live stream on the brand’s Facebook Page. The brand is doing similar events with other artists, from ice sculptors to graffiti artists.  “The video was made during four hours, all live, with no breaks or interruptions,” Marc says. “I had a camera strapped to my head as well as microphones and battery packs. We didn’t know if the Matrix code would actually work right up to the very end. It worked on paper, but would it work as a tattoo?”

You’re probably wondering if the tat is fake — after all, that Facebook friend tattoo turned out to be an advertising campaign, as did the Ray-Ban tattoo. But Marc says that the ink is the real deal. And it does seems likely. There’s no hidden viral agenda here: Ballantine’s hosted the live stream of the process on its brand page.  Marc says he’s been getting a lot of requests lately for QR code tats, and he told us that he will be working with a company called MIYU productions on more ink of this ilk.  Marc provided us with Marco’s design. You can scan it to check out the animation that currently graces Marco’s body. Use ScanLife to access the video.

As cool as this is.  All I could think about at the end of the video was that he just put his phone on top of a fresh tattoo barehanded, and that he was typing on the keyboard without changing gloves from the machine.

Just a couple more quick tattoo related stories this week.  The first is from San Francisco where a high school teacher had to make good on a bet he made with his students.

Stanley Richards, a teacher at San Francisco’s City Arts and Technology High School, promised students he would get a tattoo of the school’s vice principal if they could raise the school’s score on the California Academic Performance Index by 50 points.  The school was expected to raise the score by 7 points at the time.  “I was 99 percent sure that it wouldn’t happen” Richards said.  He now has a large tattoo of Vice Principal Paul Koh on his calf.  In the portrait, Koh is dressed in samurai clothing and slaying a dragon that represents standardized tests.

Over in the UK a bride-to-be was kicked out of a club for the serious crime of having a bachelorette party while tattooed.

Miss Trigg and four friends went in to the venue to begin their big night out, but it wasn’t long before bouncers told her to go.  The mum-of-two of said: “They let us in and we went straight to the ladies.  “Then as soon as we came out they told us to leave as it was the club policy not to let tattooed people in.  “I am not exactly the type who would make trouble. I’m just a mum who wanted to enjoy herself on her hen night.  “I think it is very discriminatory, because there are so many people with tattoos these days.  “Mine are quite pretty too, with flowers and fairies, so I don’t know why they would ask me to leave. It really spoiled my evening.”

Previously, club owner Dick de Vigne has stated the club did not encourage heavily-tattooed customers.  He said: “We have always said we don’t have rules, just very high standards. We look at each case on its merits.”  Mr de Vigne said when people became regulars at the club, they were encouraged to cover tattoos.

The sad thing is, this happens at restaurants in the US as well.  Those of you with a good memory will recall that Rachel was kicked out of a restaurant a few years back because she was sporting “gang tattoos”.

Today’s last story comes from Australia where doctors are urging the government to crack down on heavy surgical modification.  While the story is heavily biased towards the side of the doctors, they did interview the lovely miss Zephyr*Elf about her own experiences with surgical modifications.

Medical professionals are dealing with a surge of backyard “body-modification” surgeries gone wrong, with two people needing intensive care for infections. Many of the modification procedures carried out in South Australia are performed by international professional “skin artists” during fly-in visits.  RAH staff said they were alarmed at a “surge” in cases at its emergency department from extreme modifications.  Police were called to investigate one incident involving the hospitalisation of a young woman at the RAH this month.

Extreme modification techniques include tongue-splitting, scarification, branding and having implants put under the skin.  RAH emergency department nurse practitioner Melissa Curtis said she had treated two people with complications from silicon implants this year. The RAH’s plastic surgery unit also had treated several other cases in the past 12 months.

There are no laws in South Australia outlawing body modification for adults.  The Sunday Mail does not know where the surgeries were performed. City-based Modify Body Piercings has hosted a Canadian professional body modification practitioner for three week-long stints since opening in 2009. Modify employee Harmony Capper said he was always booked out for the duration of his stay. “It’s important that bookings are made in advance because if it’s a permanent body modification you really need to think about it and be sure,” she said.  Professional Tattooing Association of Australia SA spokeswoman Morag Draper said the surgeries were legal for adults.  “It is important that these places are providing post-modification support,” she said.  AMA state president Dr Peter Sharley said: “These are unnecessary and dangerous procedures with risks of haemorrhaging, infection and disfigurement. Surgeons are highly trained and would not be involved in this sort of destructive surgery.”

Zephyr Elf – aka Kasey Hilder – scars and cuts her body for art’s sake. “Art, self-expression – for me, having a malleable appearance is really integral to my cultural identity,” she said. “Being a chameleon is a lot of fun.” The Adelaide student and alternative model began modifying her body with a nose piercing at 16.  Since then, Zephyr, now 21, has had her tongue split, her ears surgically pointed, undergone 90 piercings, acquired 14 tattoos and is currently planning a scarification design for her leg.

Evidently a sterile room at a professional studio is now considered a “backyard”.  I think what upsets me the most is that they’re lumping together highly respected modification artists with people who are ill informed and performing modifications on themselves.  Knowing who this mysterious Canadian is, I know for certain that he takes all possible precautions and stays in touch with his clients even while not in the country.  A far cry from cutting someone open and leaving them to fend for themselves.  Of course, making wild accusations and using biased language is a sign of good reporting right?

Well, that’s it for the news this week.  As always, if you find a story you think should be included in the news updates, feel free to send them to me via this link, or by e-mail:  [email protected].

One last thing.  If you are as opposed to this “tattoo school” as we are, get involved.  Contact TLC and let them know just how bad an idea this is. &

32 thoughts on “ModBlog News of the Week: July 9th, 2011

  1. I know that Zephyr herself was really upset about how the article was written and how she was mislead. You’d think journalists would have a little more decency and professionalism when writing articles…. oh wait.

  2. The TLC story, and the one about the woman being kicked out of the bar/club for being tattooed really infuriate me. I don’t want to go into all of it here because that’s not necessary, but as far as TLC goes, they make their money on pandering to idiots and drama-seekers, anyone remember when they used to be The Learning Channel? For the tattooed woman getting kicked out of the bar/club, that’s incredibly discriminatory and eventually he’ll have NO customers at all, seeing as tattoos are getting more and more popular and it’s hard to find people who don’t have at least one small tattoo anymore. Jerk.

  3. ive been kicked out of bars and asked to leave some restraunts due to having my face tattooed…. some of you may or may not know about that, but my face is tattooed in white and is EXTREMELY subtle. most people at a first glace dont even notice, which shocks me even more when some bouncer notices my face is tattooed far before he even looks at my ID

  4. same here Pharmacist…I’ve been ‘removed’ from a few pubs…..yes…pubs…not some club where its a ‘nice dress code’ and all that…but typical english dive pubs….couldn’t believe it…just cos a wee tiny bit of facial ink myself haha…ah well..what goes around comes around I guess….

  5. As the owner of a tattoo studio, i can tell you i would never hire someone who attended a “tattoo school”. I know there was or still is one in St. Catherines, Ontario, and i have had 2 people who have “graduated” from their ask me for jobs. My 2 year old daughter could tattoo a grapefruit better. I personally cringe at the thought of these schools, but mostly i feel bad for the suckers who pay big bucks to learn from someone who obviously isnt good enough to make a living at it. As a tattooer, i find the whole concept of that show insulting. What bothers me the most is that 2 weeks isnt even enough time for most to learn the basics of cross contamination control, or a proper set up and tear down proceedure. That means a whole lot of potential cootie spreading. 🙁

  6. I cant imagine how i would react to being asked to leave a location for my ink. I’d probably Rosa Parks it and just stay sitting until the police came, in which time, I cant even imagine whose side they would take. I suppose it depends on the police officer called out 🙂

  7. Clubs have bouncers. Bouncers can pick you up and throw you out on your ass. And the police wouldn’t have any authority to keep you there, so your plan is a little flawed. Just letting you know if this ever happens to you.

  8. Most of the large tattoo supply houses sell tattoo kits, few include autoclaves, but many include a tattoo artist certificate with the kit- and none of you have ever had a problem with that? So everyone here has a problem with formal education but not with the “all inclusive kits” that don’t include a mentor and autoclave?


    The industry has started to shift away from reusable tubes, and already gets the fact that reusing needles isn’t putting the customer first, so that has stopped. Isn’t it safer to use a brand new tube on each customer (same as brand new needles?), and isn’t it nearly impossible to mix up an un-sterilized tube with a sterilized one if you only have a sharps container and no empty sterilization bags? On site sterilization greatly raises the risk to both the artist and client (needle stick injury when cleaning, possible incomplete sterilization) as compared to single use off site sterilization followed by immediate disposal.

    It’s sad that so many “professional” tattoo artists attack formal education when a quick poll would show that most were self-taught and that tattoo kits have been easily available through advertisements in tattoo magazines since at least the 70’s- so that’s resulted in lots of people with tattoo related health problems by now, or are we still clinging to the hope that “basement” tattoos and teachers are about to ruin the tattoo industry for everyone including those with excellent skills?

    I’ve interviewed a number of tattoo artists about apprenticeships and they all stated that they love apprenticeships because (direct quote from all) “They pay you to be your slave”; with that mentality can you blame some would be tattoo artists for seeking formal training instead of cash up front for abuse? The “paying your dues” argument is up to each artist, and the hazing aspect that some artists place on apprentices isn’t on sound legal footing, as are some of the contracts they draw up to restrict competition.

    Suffolk County NY has a required 1,000-hour apprenticeship and reports of mentor abuse of apprentices is rampant. Some of the tattoo mentors are destroying needed records and not holding up their end of the bargain, which leaves the county the option of turning it into a community college course. The bad behavior of some mentors is playing right into the hands of tattoo schools, and if it continues tattoo schools will the be future of the industry.

    Doctors and dentists are professionals- and I dare you to get any of them to insult the work of another person in their profession (they won’t), so let’s start leading by example, not though uninformed mob action!

    Let’s all watch the show so afterwards we’ll actually know what it was about?

    “Tattoo School” TLC July 14, 9PM

  9. Is this show any worse than the made up drama seen on Miami Ink or the latest Ami James show? The premise may be greatly flawed, but at least it’s fresh.

  10. Didn’t mean to appear in support of the show, but the series has already been shot. The time for group action was during the planning and filming of the episodes. It may have been possible to get it canceled prior to it’s completion. Now that production is finished and they have a large financial investment, TLC will likely air it in its entirety.

  11. @Lila. Welcome to my world tattooist. I’m a chef, with 9yrs experience. And you can always tell the wankers who watch the cookings show from the one’s who actually now what eating out is about. Enjoy being frustrated.

  12. I agree with reggie, though hopefully with enough people getting behind it, we can maybe keep TLC from shooting further seasons of this stupid show. BTW, shows like this are the reason I watch almost no TV anymore. when I do, its either comedy shows (family guy, scrubs, adult swim) or nature shows (River Monsters FTW!)

  13. @reasonable: Nobody is flat out against formal training. What they’re opposed to is the notion that it only takes two weeks to learn. If the course was a year or two, then you wouldn’t hear anyone complaining.

    Also, I’m pretty sure doctors and dentists would be badmouthing someone if they showed up to work in a hospital with only a two week course as their education.

  14. Re Tattoo School iPetition, there’s a more popular poll here- – than the one you mentioned.

    I signed saying take a look at the ‘schools’ website and the tattoos students had done. IMO only 10-20% were even mildly average (based on my looking at loads of average tattooists portfolios online and at conventions), and then consider the scary thought that these pictures have been chosen because they were the better ones !

    I think it’s down to the people who know better to help educate those who think such bad/mediocre/average work is OK. But then again, while so many people are happy to settle for so little, and so unsafely it really can only be down to the mass awareness campaigns that either the press, telly or the government can make that will more people aware of the irresponsibility and danger these unskilled ‘tattooists’ pose.

  15. There are some people, like myself, who don’t necessarily want a perfect tattoo. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want bad work on me, but I’m not looking for photo-realistic depictions of everything; for perfectly clean lines; for outstanding work. If I want a perfect reproduction of something, I’ll get the design screenprinted on a t-shirt. I enjoy the quirks and idiosyncracies of a tattoo, the little things that make it mine. The older members in my family, in my parent’s generation, have tattoos that speak of history and life experience. Those tattoos might look a little grubby after thirty years (hell, they weren’t the best when they were first done), but I grew up with those tattoos and I love them.

    Tattoo School is stupid. But let’s not try to speak for every tattooed person when we say that the only tattoos one should be aiming for are tattoos that could sit alongside artwork in a gallery. Sometimes people just want a tattoo.

  16. …i’m sorry? two weeks? what?
    it takes more than a year to get a COSMETOLOGY license
    cutting hair is a lot less..uh…well, you get what i’m saying.
    i would never get a tattoo from someone who has only had two weeks of experience!
    i’m just….what is this. what.

  17. @Daisy-D – I supposed one that’s badly placed. Blown out lines, bad shading, I dunno. I just mean that a tattoo doesn’t have to be award-winning to be good in my books. I kinda like where the ink has dropped out in my chest and stomach tattoos because that makes them more mine; they did that due to the way my body healed them. I don’t think any of my tattoos are bad, but they’re unlikely to win awards at shows. Really though, a lot of the work that Ami James does is good in my book; it’s solid work but he’s unlikely to win awards for it.

  18. to me a bad tattoo also doesnt have to be done in a shady way, it can still be done clean and purposely bad. no matter the intention, of “bad” artwork or the piece being done as far as the line work.

    good tattoo artist can do both good and “bad” work. with this show and the work thats being done. its mainly bad, in all forms.

  19. There is no such thing as bad work in a professional setting.

    Either you do it right or don’t do it.

    if people are paying money for a tattoo….it should be done right.

    for example:
    i don’t go into a food store and pay for some rotten milk or eggs. If i pay for eggs, I expect eggs and not yellow or green looking eggs.

    if i am in the hospital and getting a surgery…i am not gonna let the doctors do a half ass job. “hey cut me up and just sew me up halfway cause i like the quality of a bad job. I like the uneven stitches.!!”

    @ Jon p. i guess you never got any professional tattoos done. You prefer the $10 tattoos done at home and letting those “i can do it” artist scar you up. But hey that’s your choice…and i respect that.

    bottom line is that there is no room for bad tattoos if you consider yourself to be a tattoo artist.

  20. @Reasonable

    From your post, I assume you either are Lisa, a friend of Lisa, or work for TLC.

    As a healthcare provider, and a “collector” , if you will, of the art of tattoo, the whole idea of a two week school raises many concerns. After reading your post, my concerns only grew. Is your only concern for sanitization for the sharps themselves? What about the actual instument? Should that not be sanitized? Do you believe that a simple plastic covering is enough to avoid the spread of disease? Do you teach proper hand washing with an antimicrobial soap? Do you teach universal standard precautions? Do you teach blood born pathogens? How long do you spend on the subject? How can you refer to a two week crash course as “formal education”?

    Anyone running a “school”, like this, looses all credibility as an artist with me. I find putting the public’s health and safety, behind your own selfish greed to be deplorable. I know my artist puts this above anything else, because what is an amazing tattoo, if you contracted hepititis from it? As for the art itself, this cannot be taught in two weeks. This was proven when I went through the student portfolio on the website. To bring someone in, take their money, and leave them with the hopes of gaining a lucritive career after only putting in two weeks is not only absurd, but brings ones true character into question.

    By the way, my artist has had several apprentices throughout the years, and not one of them was ever treated poorly. Sure a little playful teasing happens, but it is all in good fun. Everyone has to start at the bottom and work their way to the top. In my internship, I even found myself helping the nursing assistants. The apprentices I have met are very greatful for the opportunity being provided to them. They are learing an amazing skill and all become truly great artists in the end. A couple of his apprentices work in his shop right along side him, their work is equally amazing.

    I will be joining in on the boycott of this show.

  21. How about some of us who have many years experience in getting inked, tattooing, and just over all experience in the field of tattooing, pull together and film an actual documentary about what it really takes to become a credible artist, shop, apprentice and so on. No scripted drama shit like LA Ink but an actual documentary along the lines of what that Canadian guy did about the history of heavy metal.

    I’m a camera guy and I’m willing to travel to do interviews and get footage. I’ve been getting tatts for nearly twenty years myself and in the early stages, I had some really bad experiences with fuckers who clearly had NO REAL TATTOOING EXPERIENCE. I have since then learned my lesson and have had the stupid shit covered up ha ha.

    I think there’s enough public interest in tattoing these days that a quality, honest, documentary about tattooing would be well received as an independent film and perhaps shown in smaller theaters and certainly streamed on the internet.

    I don’t have the money or resources to compete with TLC but, I have the drive to make an effort to expose bullshit like a “tattoo school”

    If you”d like to contact me regarding this idea, please feel free to leave me a message through my artist page at

    With that being said, what say you ?

  22. @Crenshaw – Whoa there, Nelly, what’s with the throats and the jumping down of them? I don’t pay $10 for my tattoos and they’re all done professionally. My siblings, workmates and I all go to the same person for our tattoos and none of them have turned out bad. I’ve been getting tattooed for the last 12 years and I would hope in that amount of time I’d caught a clue. You can read what you want into my comments but calm down aye. No need for such negative commentary.

  23. Here in NJ an apprenticeship is MINIMUM 2000 hrs. Though mine was at times rough, disheartening and sometimes thankless, I’m grateful to say I completed it and excelled. I was one who was able to take the heat and prove my worth out of many who couldn’t hack it. Apprentices should be hollered at, if they fuck up, that’s someones well being.

    I think it’s good for someone who’s a bit mean, crass and “rough around the edges” to be a teacher. This makes me able to handle nasty customers who haggle, and complain, and come in drunk and have just bad attitudes. I can deal with them. I will be able to compose myself in a professional manner no matter the situation because i was toughened up before being thrown into the “real world” of tattooing.

    It’s good that I spent a lot of time bleaching floors and the toilet and sinks and counters, it’s humbling and something that has to be done daily, I can do it without complaining and without thinking I’m a rock star who has a “shop bitch” to do it for me as if I’m incapable.

    It’s good that I had to take apart and put a machine back together a million times because now if something needs to be fixed, I can do it and not have to send it away to be fixed by someone else because I am well rounded and knowledgeable.

    It’s good that I had FRIENDS AND FAMILY to practice on instead of some “model” off the street because when I did a sub par job as apprentices do, I had someone who cares for me understanding the risks and not spreading around that “I just got some shit work done by an apprentice.” It made me more confident and comfortable.

    If you can’t handle to training, how will you succeed in the industry?

  24. Hello, I’m Karl, the tattooer who worked with Marco to do the Matrix code tattoo.
    A friend of mine let me know that there was a brief discussion about the recent video posted on you-tube.
    The video shows 3 minutes of excerpts from the 4 hours that we broadcast on facebook. Many important steps from the broadcast didn’t make it into the youtube excerpt.
    I wanted to set the record straight about sanitation: those who watched the full 4 hours may have seen the portion where the I-phone was cleaned with Anios-Spray (a french version of Madacide). Although not perfect, it seemed the best way to minimize risk (short of putting the I-phone in the autoclave…). Prior to tattooing I discussed the dangers with Marco, and we decided together to proceed with direct phone-to-skin contact for the sake of the animation.
    The tattoo has healed up well, if anyone is interested I would be happy to post the finished piece, for viewing and/ or scanning.
    If I can answer any questions or help clarify anything, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you

  25. I honestly can’t believe that TLC would promote something like Tattoo School. 2 weeks to learn to tattoo is just ridiculous. It is an art form that takes time to perfect. I spent 2 years in art school to improve on my artistic abilities, and that is for art that is erasable/correctable, not on a human that is permanent (short of tattoo removal.) There is so much more to tattooing than I think a person would be able to even comprehend in 2 weeks. I understand that people need to learn somewhere, and maybe something like that would be an ok starting point but I sure as hell wouldn’t let someone with only 2 weeks of training touch me. Call me picky, but I’m not a fan of scaring, blowout, or any of the other risks associated with bad tattoos. And I fear that promoting this crap will give a bad name to all of the people who have worked so hard to bring up the standards in the industry.

  26. I’m from Wales in the UK and have been looking at the courses run over here that vary from 1 day to six weeks. It’s impossible to get an apprenticeship here.. most artists have the attitude “what’s in it for me?” (the actual words of one tattooist I approached!) ALL of the tattoos I’ve had done by professional artists over the last twenty odd years have aspects I’m not totally happy with.. placement, lines, colour, shapes, infections etc.. but these were done by people with many years experience who had “paid their dues”. Can I only assume that even though they are so experienced they are bored and jaded and think that my skin doesn’t matter? Or are they so hardened by those apprenticeship years that their attitudes and demeanour make it tricky to complain after the event and make me feel a little intimidated? I know loads of kids who bought ebay machines and are doing better work than the local parlours. It’s all down to the individual. Clearly the school featured on TLC was pretty lame encouraging these people to tattoo real people.. some of the courses in the UK don’t do that and emphasis is placed on hygiene certificates and how to operate and clean equipment. Many tattoo artists have such an arrogant attitude that these schools WILL become the future, especially as the world and his wife are now getting drawn on. If there’s a talented kid who is gonna do it anyway and fancies getting a career development loan to go somewhere and grasp the fundamentals then what’s up with that?

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