Just when you thought tattoo TV couldn't get any worse, TLC -- the braintrust behind NY Ink -- will premier "Tattoo School" next Thursday, July 14th. The show follows "award-winning" tattooer Lisa Fasulo, who runs The Tattoo Learning Center in Albany, NY, as she teaches students "from all walks of life" the craft. In two weeks. Cue the drama:
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?
What's even more abhorrent is the press release for the show, which includes the following:
In the United States, the majority of tattoo artists are
self-taught. Pick up any of the major tattoo magazines, read the artist
biographies and you will find 2 out of 3, on average, are self taught.
That means experimenting with Uncle Jimmy on the kitchen table.
The rest have apprenticed under a "master".
Apprenticing falls under the category of the most widely accepted
method of learning and most traditional. This avenue has it's ups and
downs. If the apprentice studies under a master who is professional,
talented, able to teach and medically responsible, it can be a beautiful
However, apprenticeships can quickly dissolve for a variety of
reasons. Apprentices often do not handle a tattoo machine in their first
year. Instead, they must perform routine shop duties and "earn" their
right to tattoo. One of the more common woes is if the shop closes it's
doors before your apprenticeship term is fulfilled. The term "refund"
does not exist in apprenticeship agreements.
In the last few years a new way to learn the art of tattooing has arrived: licensed, registered tattoo trade schools.
Many old-time artists bristle at the notion of "school" and feel that tradition should prevail in the tattoo lifestyle.
But, like it or not, tattoo schools are here to stay and gaining popularity.
Typical, "reality" promo in which there is no reality.
But many artists are fighting back. There's a petition online and Facebookpages seeking to stop the show from airing. On Alie K Tattooer's FB page, there are contacts for TLC's ethics (really?) and viewer relations departments. There's also contact information for Lisa Fasulo herself.
I'm doubtful that TLC will pull the show, but I fully support these efforts because they raise awareness about tattoo schools and their pitfalls. It's not simply about tradition. It's about health concerns, and indeed ethics, when sending people out to potentially scar others after mere weeks of training.
Over the weekend, Philip Barbosa will be putting up a site, as well as creating printed material, designed to educate people about these schools and the real "qualifications" of its graduates (among other issues). Will update this post with the link and further info.