Results tagged “Craig Dershowitz”

Aug201227
10:17 AM
Discussing his personal experience being portrayed in the media as a "tattooed dog freak" -- and the portrayal of tattooed people in general -- Craig Dershowitz offers this essay.


2212dog.jpgDressing for my appearance on the Today Show, I worried about what shirt to wear. It was one of the first real humid days of the summer and called for short sleeves, but I had to be a cognizant that I was appearing on national television and that not everyone would take kindly to my long (tattooed) sleeves.

That is the thing about most people who have marked themselves -- we are far more aware of the bias against us than of actually holding any bias ourselves. Each dressing decision is informed by our choices. There is a heightened self awareness amongst the initiated and an intangible level of vulnerability that betrays the tough guy (or girl) personae normally associated with tattooing.

I am the tough guy who spent $60,000 on lawyer fees to attempt to rescue my dog from my ex-girlfriend. In the two or three days that I became news content, opinions ranged. In the span of a news cycle, I was: A pathetic loser who could not get over his ex (not true); A sucker who had been milked by his attorneys (possibly true); A fiercely loyal father with more courage than money (very true). Regardless of the reporter's personal take or, more likely, the spin he was concocting to separate himself from the other reporters and try to get a few more hits on his social media platform of choice, they were always asking about my job. Every story began with my name, age and job description. If you remember the days of dial-up, AOL modems and chat rooms - you might remember how disappointing it was when we discovered that the internet, this new form of communication, would only lead us to discuss ourselves in the same superficial, box-creating definitional ways as before.

The other superficial box that was being created for me was that of one who is tattooed. No matter if I was a loser or a hero, I was a tattooed version of either. In fact, the first three reports in well-known, credible news sources referred to me as follows: A tattooed employee at an art gallery (true); A tattooed artist (possibly true); And, finally, a tattoo artist (not true at all). Forget the apprenticeship model, the news is a far quicker way for one to earn his machines. Again, regardless of their spin and the validity of their descriptions, reporters loved to point out the tattoo information as if it had some bearing on my extreme situation or my being at all.

I was incredulous. And, I was curious. I kept trying to figure out why tattoos meant so much. My greater concern was raising the funds I needed to pay the lawyers to ask the judge to do the thing he should be able to do for a lot less money. Looking at the very arms that I hoped to use to carry my dog back home, I realized just how much money was on them. I could have fought two more cases with what I had spent on ink. Then I realized, it meant everything.

I fought (and am still fighting) for my dog because of the same reasons I am tattooed. I have a sense of permanence and significance. Items that are important or significant to me are sacred to me, expressed in my skin, in my blood, in my life. I am fearless in the face of societal judgment and norms. I am generous with my time, spirit and money when it comes to holding onto beauty. I am, sometimes, reckless and impulsive in protection of my individuality. I am beholdent to no one but myself and to my puppy.

Considering my new extreme circumstance, I would trade all these tattoos back for the money to rescue my pup. But, I would never trade the passion that created my desire to tattoo myself and to hold on to my dog.
Apr201216
10:44 AM
tim kern tattoo on craig.jpgStarting 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. 

claire reed The Magician Tattoo.jpgAnd, 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!

For Collectors:
  • Don't cancel. Yeah, that sounds definitive. And, it is. Don't cancel. And, I am not even talking about for the sake of the artist but for your own. You made a commitment, you chose something important to you. Do it. Anything else is a weak-willed cop-out. Of course, nothing is without exception and, for the proper reasons, you can make exception but you should consider an appointment as something that should only be missed if the reason to miss it is absolutely urgent and important.
For Artists:
  • Don't mind cancellations. Yes, it is your time and your money and your livelihood. But, you customer is also putting their time, money, livelihood (potentially) and body (definitely) on the line. Shit happens. Respect that.
That was brilliant, was it not? So many questions could be answered if we just returned to a state of chilling the heck out. There are down payments for a reason -- it addresses this problem. Anything else is a bunch of personal, petty, childishness on both sides of the gun. Our culture deals with enough harassment and misinformation as it is. Stay honest and respectful and we are all good.

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EDITOR IN CHIEF:
Marisa Kakoulas
CONTRIBUTORS:
Miguel Collins
Craig Dershowitz
Brian Grosz
Sean Risley
Patrick Sullivan
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