Guest Blog: "Cancels"
Starting off your week with this personal essay from our Craig Dershowitz on scoring a tattoo appointment with a booked artist, and the disappointment of having to cancel.
My mom is sick. I am in a bitter court battle. My new apartment requires two months security plus first month rent. They say that when someone gives multiple excuses, they are probably all lies. Believe me, I wouldn't believe this if I wasn't living through it. It is not believable. I cope with tattoos, through tattoos. Tattoos are cathartic and liberating. They remind me that I have control and power over myself, regardless of how many things are conspiring against me. They bring physical pain that, when there is so much mental pain, is a welcome respite. You know when the pain of a tattoo will end and you know how it will end.
For the initiated, tattooing seems like a never-ending process. We are constantly picking our next piece, considering our next artist and, usually, in the midst of a large project. But, there is a finite amount of skin and as each session closes, so too, eventually, does the body. It was my goal to have my body complete by the end of 2012. Tim Kern is in the middle of my back piece (above). Claire Reid is in the middle of my thigh (below right), and I had an appointment with Yoni Zilber for portions of my chest.
And, I had to cancel them all. Not only was it personally upsetting, it was professionally problematic. I know these guys. Their schedules are beyond packed. I wonder how many seconds it took for any of them to fill my spot with someone off of a waiting list. Getting another appointment can be difficult. Getting a reputation for being a flake is worse. Getting them to believe an excuse or three that you yourself wouldn't believe is the worst.
In a small shop in the Village, a tattoo artist told me that he wished he could get work from Yoni and asked if I could get him an appointment. Tim is enigmatic and booked--constantly. Claire travels the world and is only in the States about once a year. All three are legends in the community. All three are incredibly talented. All three have spots on my body reserved for them that, until complete, feel even more empty and naked than if they had nothing on them at all.
I was whining to Marisa about this situation and she told me what a controversial problem it is. Some artists are so booked and full of willing subjects to take any open spot so it's not that big an issue. Others take great offense as if it was a personal slight. The reasons, true reasons, for cancelling are equally across the board. Whether it is financial constraints, laziness, forgetfulness or some serious, life-altering change, the reasons for cancelling an appointment range from meaningful and necessary to insulting and rude.
How each artist copes is probably based on their own personality mixed the experiences they have had in the past both with that particular collector and with random others. I am lucky to consider Yoni a friend and know him to be a genuine, caring and family-oriented man. When I told him about my mother, he knew I was telling the truth and had immediate concern. He returned the money I had Pay-pal'd him and gave good wishes. Tim said not to worry and was extraordinarily flexible and kind. Claire was still in Australia but promised to ask the earth for healing. If you know Claire, you know this is completely in line with her beliefs and personality.
Their generosity was, mostly, their general nature. But, it was also coupled with what they know about me. I had never blown off an appointment with them before. I had sat through long sessions and I have recommended them and promoted them as much as possible. Each one deserves it too. Such a familiarity between artist and subject is, however, not the norm. And, in the interest of preserving an important relationship, there are standards everyone should abide. I am going to get deep now!