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.