I like games... and tattoos. Yes, those.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio...

In an Acclaim Magazine interview, Sara Fabel recently said, "I felt like the tattoo was scraping the skin off and revealing the true colour underneath. Every tattoo I got, I felt more like me. I felt like my identity was more intact and I felt stronger. It’s like when you have gargoyles outside churches to keep out the bad spirits. I feel that my tattoos are my gargoyles and it keeps my personality intact and keeps the outside world from interfering too much into who I am."

This was a description that so completely resonated with me, and I'm sure there are others that would agree, that I just had to share it.

Now, a few days ago I spoke about the stupid questions people with tattoos get asked on a regular basis. You can read it here if you haven't already.

On this note I'd like to continue by discussing two things - the cost of tattoos, and the importance of choosing an artist.

Firstly let's get the whole cost thing out of the way. GOOD tattoos are expensive. Way more expensive than you think they are. The cost is not unjustifiable, this is a piece of art that you're going to be carrying around with you for the next 50/60 years, so saving up and spending the extra money more than justifies the cost.

On average, in 2013 most artists charge between R750-R1000 an hour. This means that the cost of getting a sleeve such as mine, which is in the region of 26 hours work, will cost you about R26 000.00

When people tell me they only payed R400.00 for their entire sleeve, sadly I want to say, "Yeah I can see." Much like cheap plastic toys from China, when they fade and break in 5 minutes you can't really be surprised.  

A guy in a supermarket the other day asked me if my entire sleeve cost around R2000.00! I didn't mean to but I actually laughed at him. A friend of mine related a story where he went into a corner cafe, and the woman behind the counter said to her friend in Zulu, "His tattoos might mean he can't pay." Luckily enough he understands Zulu, and so he replied, "Actually my tats mean I most likely CAN pay."

What people don't understand is that if you're forking out R1000 an hour for a tattoo - you're not broke. You might have to save up for it and it might take you a while to complete it, but tattooed people often end up spending their money on tattoos as opposed to the other crap you tend to spend your cash on.

So next time you look at my tattoos and tell me you think people with tattoos are trashy, that we'll never get a "real" job - remember that we spend more money on our tattoos than you spend on all the other rubbish you're going to throw away in 5 years because it doesn't work any more. And we get to keep our art forever.

So how do you get one of these amazing pieces of art you ask? You're smart and selective about your artist. We often end up going to some random artist for our first piece, and if you're lucky they're a good artist and won't screw up your work too badly. Hopefully by the time you reach your second or third piece you'll have made some informed decisions and have scouted a talented artist. No matter when you get there however, the point is that you do.

Otherwise you might end up with something like this...

 Or this...

Yes. Always check the spelling...

Portfolio is all important when you're having a tattoo done. Is the artists work good? Not only that, but are they good at the type of work YOU want done? If you want a portrait, make sure their portraiture is excellent. You don't want a picture like the one above where the girl looks she's wearing a Halloween costume. 

Look around. Ask for recommendations from your friends with tattoos - you'll see immediately if you like the work. The important thing to remember there is just because your friend gets on well with and loves the artist, doesn't necessarily mean that you will, so speak to them about what you're thinking of doing and see if their ideas gel with yours.

Because that brings me to my next point. Rapport. 

The reason I keep going back to the same artist over and over again for most of my work is because he gets me. We share the same ideas, the same sense of style, and he's patient and understanding and we have an excellent relationship. I may get a couple of other pieces here and there by other artists that I like, but there's a reason I keep going back to Milo "Mr Lucky" Marcer.

Anyway, gathered from my own experience as well as from speaking to other tattooed friends, the general consensus seems to be "do you really want a badly inked version of your dream piece on your body for the rest of your life?" (Chantal Wood)

Not only that, but the risk of picking up an infection by getting a tattoo from your buddy who thinks he can tattoo you in his garage, with no autoclave, no sterile needles, no gloves etc, increase exponentially. Infected tattoos can leave horrible scarring, not to mention the diseases you might pick up along the way.


These things are as, if not more, important than your choice of design in the end. A good artist will make your idea work for you.

1 comment:

  1. If you don't want to have regrets in the future, go to a reliable tattoo shop. There are a lot of tattoo artists these days who have the skills, but you shouldn't just rely on that. You also have to see if the one you're entrusting to complies with health and sanitation standards. Aside from checking his portfolios, take a look at the facility and equipment too. By that, you will see if he's actually running his business properly.