In the World of Tattooing, Beware of Scratchers

bird tattoo
Detail of half sleeve I completed in 2012.


The tattoo industry is a very personalized business and art form, so let’s start with the problems. Where should I begin? Like painting or any other art form there is always a beginning, a lifestyle, and then maybe a career.

From the very day of a tattoo artist’s adventure, it is just that: An adventure.

Back when I started, I was lost in the world of a new practice, and the only teachings were from hands-on practice and a veteran tattoo artist. Any fledgling tattoo artist should have a person like this to teach them by example.

The Internet and television, however, have led to a disturbance in the force.

In the very beginning, there were a couple of wild dudes who thought up the idea of creating a business tattooing. It was more than primitive. Knowledge was gained by apprenticeship or ingenuity. Trust, honor, and a hard work ethic could actually get you somewhere. Now, any kid with an Ebay account and YouTube can figure out the fundamentals.

The one problem that exists in the tattoo world currently is the free access of online training without practical application and understanding.

I think one could agree its awesome to watch Bob Ross and learn to paint happy trees. Tattooing is an art form with happy blood-born pathogens, scar tissue and permanent, life-changing artwork on people. In my hometown there are more than 70 shops when only 10 years earlier there where five. Due to the overexposure of our wizard ways, our world has been flooded by fad followers and something we call scratchers.

Scratchers are just that, someone who make scratch marks on people and act like they’re tattooing. They may have the “proper” equipment and the tough demeanor, but do they know how to use either? Sometimes these people even get away with charging for the worst tattoos or scenarios and usually/always don’t work in a shop. Medically, this makes me cringe by simply imagining the environment that they do work in.  There are lots of different kinds of staph and infections.

This is an ongoing problem. We fight very well in the ways we do, the old ways.

A fellow lady tattoo artist explained that there are still wizards in the tattoo industry; we are creative people that have the talent to do what we do magically. We are the ones to hold out till the flood recedes and the truth and honor will return to the industry.


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