AITCHISON: It’s a rebellion within a rebellion.
You often hear artists lament over the “good ol’ days of tattooing” and that some of the magic today has been lost. What are your thoughts on this?
AITCHISON: You know how when you’re really into a band but no one’s really heard of them yet, just you and a couple of your friends, then suddenly they blow up and everyone in the world has heard of them? The original fans are like, “I liked them better before they were famous.” That’s what’s happening now. I don’t think there’s any room to grumble. Anyone who has been in this business long enough, and is doing a good job of it, is doing better now because of the tattoo renaissance. And if they’re not, that means they are not doing very good tattoos.
WORTMAN: I don’t think it has lost anything. It is gaining something. There’s a huge diversity within tattooing itself. The look of tattoos is changing. There are a lot more styles that are being put out there that are amazing. Also, a lot of the women I tattoo feel more comfortable being heavily tattooed. They are going for an overall look that’s cohesive, not fragmented. I feel we are a part of this evolutionary process. It’s exciting to be a part of it and see where we can go next.
You’ve both worked hard to promote tattoo education and help others improve their work. Has there ever been a backlash with other tattooers questioning why you’re putting all that out there?
AITCHISON: There hasn’t been a backlash per se, and part of the reason is that education in our industry has become a standard. It’s not just a couple of us doing this. Go to any major convention and there are seminars happening. The thing we all kind of agree on amongst ourselves is that we are not showing this stuff to the general public. For example, in our store on tattooeducation.com, we have a lot of items that have a red flag on them. That means we only ship them to established tattoo shops. That’s the way any of the above ground tattoo suppliers work as well. It’s the way it has been set it up and the way we police ourselves to make it hard for people to get in without going through the proper channels. of course, there are always ways around it. But your average jerk who isn’t willing to put in the time, effort, and struggle to do well is not going to make it through.
Part of this education has been promoting fine art within the tattoo community, like you do with your live painting events. Why is that fine art component so important to tattooing?
WORTMAN: When you’re collecting from an artist, you’re collecting a piece of art. I think when you work in a second medium like painting, you can create a resonance from your other types of art [that goes] into your tattooing. So the more that we encourage others to explore a second medium, the more they can bring their own individual style into tattooing and hopefully diversify it even further—not to mention that the more fluid you are with a second medium, the more you bring that fluidity into tattooing.