Results tagged “TLC”

11:51 AM
tattoo school tattoo.jpg
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 minutes seconds of reality TV fame.

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.

01:06 PM
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:

The outrage also prompted TLC to release its own statement defending the program, which is scheduled to air again on Aug. 4. Spokeswoman Joanna Brahim defended the documentary on the learning center and pointed to TLC's history of showing different aspects of the tattoo community in its programing.

"While this method is considered controversial by some tattoo artists, including some on our air, it does exist and we chose to document it," she said in the statement. "People can come to their own conclusions."

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 soon when it goes live. I'll be posting an update when it does.

boycott tattoo schools.jpg

02:01 PM
TLC Tattoo School.jpg
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 thing.
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 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.
11:52 AM
nyinkbanner.jpgTonight 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 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.

  • Every time they do an establishing shot of a New York landmark (the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, subways, yellow cabs, etc).
  • Every time there's incredibly scripted voice over/testimonial monologue (ie - "If you can make it here in New York, you can make it anywhere" or "It's not easy running a shop, but with a crew of talented artists like this...")
  • If someone gets a NYC tattoo (see above references, plus Yankees logos. If they get a twin towers tattoo, pour two tall shots and drink both)
  • During any discussion of the Sacred Three Taboo Tattoo Areas (above the collar, below the cuff, under the underwear)
  • If anyone actually gets a tattoo in one of the S.T.T.T.A. you have to drink every time it is shown.

  • Every time Ami James complains about being in New York City (adventurous, high-tolerance drinkers should simply drink every time Ami complains about anything).
  • Every time Ami has his shirt off in the shop for no explicable reason (this ain't Miami, son)
  • Every time the "shop girl" looks like she's near tears.
  • Every time someone is wearing those fashionable, black latex gloves.
  • Every time an artist is late for an appointment
  • Every time an artist storms out of the shop in anger (take two drinks - one for you and one for the drink he/she is about to go get around the corner).

  • Every time someone mentions a personal project (band, blog, self-published book, etc) to garner press for personal gain.
  • Every time a client is getting a "memorial tattoo" (however, any time it's for a "homey who ain't here" you are required to pour some out - pets and family members are excluded from this stipulation).  If you tear up during one of the memorial tattoo descriptions, CHUG your drink and then punch yourself in the junk.
  • Every time there is a meaningful, heartfelt "back story" behind a client's inspiration for their tattoo.
  • Every time a client mentions their congenital/accidental disability (drink twice if the tattoo "empowers" them)
  • Every time a client starts crying at their new, beautiful tattoo (CHUG for as long as they're crying DURING the tattooing process).
  • If someone pusses out on a tattoo, finish your drink and then hunt them for sport ("Functioning Alcoholic" level players only).
  • Every time a client walks in with a completely un-tattooable piece of reference art (drink double if the client or their friend drew it).


  • Pick three (3) rules total from any category.

  • Pick six (6) rules total from any two categories

  • (Well, now... someone wore their big-boy pants today!)

  • All rules from page one apply, plus...
  • If you know the client personally, double all drinking requirements.
  • Every time a large-scale tattoo (full sleeve, backpiece, etc) is completed in one episode - take one drink every session it presumably took to complete.

  • All previous rules apply, plus stock your bar for the following:
  • Make your alcohol-choices directly related to the tattoo happening on-screen.  Sake or Asahi for Japanese work, Miller Lite for tribal work, Irish whiskey for "memorial" tattoos, tequila for fine-line black-and-grey work, wine coolers for tramp stamps (amaretto sours are also acceptable - but one is required to scream "WOOOO!" or chant "Gym, Tan, Laundry!")

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)
03:35 PM

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.

Now there's a call for characters for  New York Ink, the latest incarnation of TLC's tattoo reality series. My response to the casting call?...... Sign me up. I don't really think I'm someone they would pick. I don't drink, I'm in a stable relationship, I run a solid shop, I'm not very emotional and I'm not a huge jerk who yells at people. There's two ways to respond to change. You can be bitter and mourn for what once was. Or you can step up and try to be a part of the change. We can't control how they portray us but you can control how you portray yourself.   I like seeing artist I respect on TV (Chris, Kim, Hanna...). At the same time I don't like seeing assholes represent my profession. Now to make matters worse they're rolling  into our neck of the woods. I'm hoping they don't pick a bunch of losers for this one. This one's New York. This one's ours. I'm not embarrassed to say I want to be a part of representing my community.
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  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.
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