The "Drake Tattoo" Question
06:45 PM
"You get the tattoo you deserve."

It's a belief held by many, and hell, I've said it from time to time. In tattooer interviews, you'll often find discussions on what tattoos the artists won't do. For example, in my Q&A with Jack Rudy for Inked mag, he said:

I try to stay away from racist stuff, religious blasphemous stuff, and really negative things that I think could come back and bite that person in the ass real hard. I'd rather not be a part of that even if they insist on having it. There are people that'll do anything on ya--you can always find people that will just do whatever the customer may want--but those are a few things that I really try to avoid.
Then there are others who say that if the client is going to go elsewhere, it's best that they do it themselves and get it right. With regard to racist tattoos, some artists just don't want to spend any time with a bigot in their chair, while others will do the tattoo so society knows just who they are dealing with. And of course there are people who will do anything for cash.

Tons of ethical dilemmas arise re: putting on a tattoo that a client may likely regret. The latest tattoo that has caught the most buzz is the "DRAKE" lettering across a young woman's forehead. It's been posted on tons of blogs, in a point & laugh kind of way, but we're digging this Vice article, which interviews the man who did the infamous facial work. The tattooist, Kevin Campbell, of Will Rise studio in LA describes the experience and responds to those who say he should have never done it. Here's a bit of that interview:

Do you feel sort of bad about it after the fact?
My whole deal with people wanting completely outrageous and potentially life-ruining tattoos is this: I'll ask them three times if they really think it's a good idea, I tell them what the potential consequences of getting a tattoo on their face might be, and after that, the bad decision is on them. I believe that people get the tattoos that they deserve. The shop where I worked prior to Will Rise was in the center of the Harbor City Crip neighborhood, so I'm not really a stranger to tattooing gang shit on faces, which is what I originally thought that this was. I guess I feel bad that this dumbass got the name of the softest motherfucker in hip-hop tattooed on her forehead. But what makes that any less valid of a tattoo to her? I lost a little sleep over it that first night, wondering if I wanted to be known as the asshole who tattooed "DRAKE" on some crackhead's forehead.
I could have turned her away, and I'm already getting a ton of flack from other tattooers for this, but the way I see it, if she's got her little heart set on getting her forehead tattooed then she'll just keep on trying until somebody finally goes through with it. I think that getting a color portrait of the Joker from Batman is a dumb idea, but who the fuck am I to judge? If some cat from MS 13 comes in and wants me to "blast" that shit on his chin or forehead or whatever, who am I to judge the validity of them getting what they get and where they get it? If I tattoo a huge "BK" on a Crip or tattoo "DRAKE" on some R&B-crazed girl's face, what's the difference? Who am I to say which one is wrong and which is right?

Read more here.

While I disagree with Campbell, I was understanding his arguments to a certain degree. ... That is, until the very final line of the interview:  "She was on a pretty good one when she came in, but I think by the time I finished she was coming down, because her attitude changed pretty drastically once the tattoo was finished."

So, in essence, the problem here is actually tattooing someone who is high and unable to make clear decisions. And in these cases, the client does not get the tattoo he or she deserves.

What do you think? Comment on this post in our Facebook Group.

UPDATE:  Kevin Campbell says that his reply to Vice was misinterpreted, and the woman was in fact sober. I posted his response in the group forum linking this post.

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