Oh, you are going to be mad. I'm talking Just John Tattoo mad (see below).
Last July, a mass of professional tattooists and collectors rose up to boycott TLC's "Tattoo School" -- a show where the disillusioned are led to believe they can learn to tattoo in just two weeks. This sparked online petitions, Facebook pages, and angry YouTube videos. Oh, and death threats. But things quieted down when TLC said it was just a one-off program and not a series.
Well, "Tattoo School" is now a series.
Check a video premier of the show on Entertainment Weekly. Also the Futon Critic posted TLC's press release, which offers this explanatory gem:
Over the two-week intensive course, students will be tested on three 'real world' challenges that mimic the situations they may find themselves in as a working tattoo artist. Each challenge will test a specific skill or technique that is required to become successful in the business. From sketching to inking human VIP clients, the students will be subjected to all aspects of tattoo artistry. Upon graduation, the student with the best final, original tattoo is gifted with a golden gun, which will last for their entire career.A golden tattoo gun!
Ya know what will last their entire career? The shame of taking the easy way out to learn a craft and get 15
While I've been mellowing -- or rather given up -- a lot of my anger over tattoo TV [as I noted in my "Best Ink" post], there's something just so ... sad about it. So sad I can't even find something funny about it to properly mock.
What's particularly upsetting is that, even with a boycott of tattoo school grads by reputable studios, many will indeed get jobs because of America's particularly obscene obsession with TV celebrities. How do you explain Kim Kardashian's fame? People will want to get a tattoo, even a bad tattoo, by someone who has been on TV just to say that a "celeb" did it. We've seen it already with the competition shows where the weakest artists (but great self-promoters) are the "stars" at conventions. They also get paid to show up at nightclubs and suddenly have waiting lists for sub-stellar work.
Maybe the best course of action is to not make them celebrities -- or bring more viewers to TLC -- by giving them publicity with blog posts like this one or angry videos. Maybe we need to pretend "Tattoo School" doesn't exist and instead promote excellence in the industry.
In that case, I apologize for writing this and will go back to artist profiles on those who deserve it.
It seems the "haters" against Lisa Fasulo's Tattoo Learning Center are doing more than just protesting via online petitions, Facebook pages, and angry YouTube videos.
According to the Daily Gazette, Fasulo claims that she has been getting death threats and the FBI is now looking into it. The article states: "Rotterdam Police Lt. Jason Murphy characterized the threats as 'open-ended,' with many of them left on Facebook. He said no arrests are forthcoming, but police continue to investigate."
The deluge of hate mail, as many in the tattoo community know, came after the announcement that TLC would air a program featuring Fasulo called "Tattoo School." The Daily Gazette describes the show as a "documentary," but some believe that the program could be a pilot for a further series. [I contacted TLC for more information and my messages were not returned.] But TLC has responded to the backlash, according to the article:
It goes without saying that threats of harm don't do any good but peaceful protesting, like those against the school in San Diego, can have an impact. It all comes down to real education and letting the misguided know that the schools are not the way into a life in tattooing.
Philip Barbosa has created some posters and cards like the one below to further spread the word. They will be available on his BoycottTattooSchools.com soon when it goes live. I'll be posting an update when it does.
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.
Typical, "reality" promo in which there is no reality.
But many artists are fighting back. There's a petition online and Facebook pages 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.
On her blog, Lisa Fasulo answers "the haters," but I think her "student tats" page speaks volumes more. It's not pretty.
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.
Tonight at 10/9C, The Learning Channel will be debuting their latest tatttoo-reality show, NY Ink - and if you're anything like us, you rolled your eyes upon learning of the show and let out an ultra-snotty, "Oh, just what we needed, another tattoo-reality show."
(Full Disclosure - We actually have several friends on the show and wish them the best of luck. After all, most tattooists don't have 401(k) retirement plans, so we're all in favor of "buying-in" before our tattooist pals get arthritis and scoliosis. That said, we gave our pals full warning that we'd be mocking them incessantly - because that's what friends do.)
But after a dozen adult beverages at happy hour, we at Needles and Sins (along with the awesome help of Nathan at KnuckleTattoos.com) think we've found a way to incorporate an exciting plot twist in what will otherwise be a "same story, different city" situation. That's right - we hereby present to you the SEMI-OFFICIAL NY INK DRINKING GAME!
The rules are listed below my introductory video, but if you don't want to drink in front of the TV while cradling your laptop (and we wouldn't recommend that) we've also whipped up a printable PDF Rulesheet.
TAKE A DRINK...
TAKE A DRINK...
TAKE A DRINK...
FUNCTIONAL ALCOHOLIC SKILLSET
And may God have mercy on your soul... and your liver.
(Thanks again to Nathan at KnuckleTattoos for his help - if you have any recommendations for additional rules, tweet them with the hashtag #nyinkdrinkinggame)
In last week's post on Erin Chance's Kat Von D portrait tattoo, I linked the online casting calls for the next season of LA Ink and a new show, NY Ink. I had also sent a tongue-in-cheek email around to tattoo artist friends here in NYC asking if they'll be trying out to be the new tattoo TV sensations. Turns out, well, a bunch of them are.
We've all heard the arguments against the shows. In almost every interview I've done with artists for Inked and Skin & Ink recently, there's a general lament that no reality exists in the way tattooing is portrayed in mainstream media. No great story need be behind your desire to get tattooed. No sleeve is completed within 48 minutes. And skate ramps in tattoo studios are generally frowned upon.
It's rare to hear of any desire to be a part of the shows, particularly from long-time tattooers, so I was surprised when my friend Michelle Myles of DareDevil and Fun City tattoo studios -- who's profiled in the video above -- sent me a text telling me to read her latest post on Devil City Press. Turns out that Michelle along with co-owner Brad "You Kids Get Off My Lawn" Fink, resident artist Big Steve, and pretty shop boy Reid Waters have put themselves in the running for NY Ink's casting. Here's what Michelle has to say:
Anyone who's been involved with tattooing pre-Miami Ink didn't get tattooed to be a part of a trend. I started getting tattooed because it was anything but trendy or even acceptable. Tattooing was a fringe subculture we worked our way into, and it certainly wasn't seen as a valid career choice. It breaks my heart to see tattooing get sold out to the media and popular culture. TV producers aren't on our side. The tattoo industry doesn't have a say in the way it's portrayed in the media. Overall it depresses me to see our industry be represented by such vapid host. We can only hope for the best with what gets spewed out.Yes, I would love my DareDevil friends repping me. [They are also freakin funny and would make for good TV aside from their strong portfolios.] Where my concern lies is whether one can really control how "you portray yourself" in the quick edits, scenes taken out of context and the faux drama that will be created. Will legal contracts bind the artists into doing something they wouldn't? Will we see Brad Fink in a kicky little pin-up outfit?
Despite my concern, I'm rooting for them because I don't want my NYC tattoo world turned over to scratchers and "professional tattoo models" for the masses to mock. If there will be any mocking, hopefully, it will come from me teasing my friends over the long stories we'll endure waiting to see how their tattoos turn out.
Have your say in who will be on the show by voting on RealityWanted.com. Here are the Daredevil profiles: Michelle Myles, Brad Fink, Big Steve Pedone, and Reid Waters.
I also voted for another dear friend and fabulous artist Lea Vendetta.