On February 15th of 2019, our YouTube channel posted a video titled "Tattoos That Artists Refuse." In the video, New York City-based artists share their reasoning for refusing to do a tattoo and some give examples of tattoos that they've refused to do in the past. For many of the artists, they explain that they'll refuse to do tattoos that are offensive, whether that be in the context of racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, or Islamophobia. However, for one of the artists, she shared a story where she refused to do a tattoo that was associated with a very controversial rapper.
That rapper, although she doesn't name him in the video, is clearly XXXTentacion. XXXTentacion was an American rapper who got his start on SoundCloud in 2013 and quickly acquired a devoted fanbase. He soon rose to mainstream recognition for his song "Look at Me," which is certified RIAA platinum and his second album ? debuted at number one on the Billboard Top200 when it was released in March of 2018. And after passing away on June 18th of 2018 from a gunshot wound, the rapper gained an even larger following posthumously.
However, throughout his career, XXXTentacion was deemed the "most controversial man in rap" following the alleged aggravated battery of his pregnant girlfriend and his domestic abuse charges were only dropped after his death in 2018. This case caused many people to be wary of the rapper's values and it's logical why an artist would refuse a tattoo associated with him.
While many might believe that its reasonable for an artist to refuse to do a tattoo linked to XXXTentacion, a YouTuber was appalled by the ordeal and made his own video in response. Cam Haller is a 20-year-old YouTuber who creates reaction videos on the channel CUFBOYS. The channel has over 1.5 million subscribers and focuses its content on SoundCloud rappers such as X, as well as, Lil Skies, Lil Pump, and Juice Wrld. On February 23rd, Haller uploaded a video called "Clueless Lady Disrespects XXXTentacion," in which he reacts to the tattoo artist in our video and adds commentary to the situation. In Haller's opinion, the artist shouldn't have refused to do the tattoo because she "had no idea what she was talking about" and didn't know what kind of person X was.
However, despite what Haller may think about this artist and others who don't agree with supporting XXXTentacion, it's fully within the right of an artist to refuse a tattoo—for any reason. For the most part, an artist tries to have the client's best interest in mind and they'll make their decision accordingly. Additionally, it is very reasonable for an artist to refuse to have their name attached to a person or design because in some part the tattoo is a reflection of them. And in those circumstances where a client is refused a tattoo by an artist, in many cases, there will be someone out there willing to do it. Just because an artist refuses to do a tattoo, that doesn't mean the client can't get it done, they just need to find an artist down for the job. Lastly, if a client finds themselves repeatedly turned down by artists for a tattoo idea, maybe they should take some time to reflect on what they want and realize that it might not be in their best interest to have this idea permanently inked on their body. "thou doth protest too much," am I right?