No, You Can’t Get a Fucking Neck Tattoo, Jane Marie.

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This week blogger Jane Marie of Jezebel put tattooer Dan Bythewood “ON BLAST” for refusing to ink her neck. The reason Bythewood turned down the tattoo was because Marie is barely inked and so Bythewood was following the traditional tattoo honor code. As the population of tattooed people continues to grow we are happy to add to our community but hope that our new brothers and sisters respect the soul and traditions of tattooing.

Chief among our traditions is that quality tattoo artists are the custodians of the craft. What they say goes. Also, how dare she admonish him for refusing the tattoo on any grounds? A tattoo is a collaborative effort between the artist and the wearer, if the artist doesn’t want to take on a piece then he or she needn’t feel pressured. Tattoos are in a sense fashion. Cut-rate tailors will alter any dress to please a client but couture designers have the right to refuse clients whose wishes don’t work with their aesthetic and don’t want their name on the outcome. There is a saying that a tattoo artist is only as good as the latest piece in their portfolio and so if Bythewood had accepted the tattoo, Marie’s piece would be in his record. She is acutely aware of this because in her piece she attacked his work, sarcastically calling it “perfectly un-tacky.”

We were enraged by the piece for a number of reasons (the least being that we had to read something that used the term “luh-hiterally”—we bet that more than a few Jezebel readers are those who consider themselves rebellious because they have the Sex Pistols credit card in their handbags) and so we called Bythewood to give him the opportunity to respond. Below is his statement.

 

“I was targeted by a blogger via Jezebel.com who would like to see me out of business. The reason? I refused to tattoo her neck, as I regularly do when asked by a sparsely tattooed or un-tattooed customer. Where she really got it wrong is assuming that I refused her service for sexist reasons, even after I informed her that I refuse neck tattoos on men and women weekly. Her misguided attempt to make this a feminist issue is a disservice to true feminism. It trivializes it in a wolf cry and makes slanderous assumptions of my character (just ask my mother, three big sisters, three beautiful nieces, and all of my wonderful female friends). I am a far cry from a misogynist. Although I appreciate all of the support I have received from the tattoo community, I would also like to ask that all the harsh name-calling directed at “SeeJaneMarie” stop now. We strongly disagree with her opinion, but I also strongly disagree with calling women “b***hes” or “c**ts” for having strong opinions, even if those opinions are misguided.

As all tattooers know, a neck or hand tattoo is a big commitment, and traditionally are reserved for those heavily covered and ready to confront society on a daily basis as a heavily tattooed person. Although tattoos are more accepted now than ever, we are still judged daily for our appearance. A hand or neck tattoo may mean the difference between that next job or promotion, and also may spur daily judgmental looks and harassing comments from strangers as many of my friends have experienced. It’s not a thing to be taken lightly and I long ago drew an ethical line in the sand for myself as professional tattooer to turn down “job stoppers” on those who are not already committed to living as a heavily tattooed person. If I was to make the decision again today, I would still say no. I hope for her sake she does not get judged as harshly for her new neck tattoo as she judged myself and the staff of New York Adorned upon walking into our shop.

I myself am still collecting tattoos, and do not have hand or neck tattoos yet. I have been tattooing for eight years and will consider getting both hands done after 10 years of service. Why? I take this ancient art form seriously. I take my craft seriously. I take the time-honored traditions of tattooing seriously. Traditions and respect that we are losing daily to a new petulant culture screaming “gimme now!” and treating tattooers with the same disrespect they wrongly just waged at the last Starbucks barista who made their latte. I won’t be part of it and I refuse to support it. In the end, just know this “SeeJaneMarie”: Tattooing is my tribe. We will allow you to be a tourist, we will even welcome you to join, but don’t be surprised that in 2015 there are still some things that cannot be bought, just earned.

Please apologize to my customers whose tattoos you mocked in your failed attempt to hurt my career in order to bolster yours.

Sincerely,

 

Dan Bythewood

 

Below is a gallery of Bythewood’s work

Image 1 of 15

Dan Bythewood photo by Kevin McCollum

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