Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jammie Dodger Appreciation

Welcome to another blog post from, well, me! On this little adventure we’re going to explore some interesting topics in the world of a tattoo shop. Working in a tattoo shop isn’t at all like you see on TV. Majority of the time there’s not a lot of drama, and everyone works together to create a positive environment. Surprisingly it’s the clients that bring in the negativity and make things complicated. For some oddball reason a lot of clients feel that it’s okay to not pay what a tattoo is worth. People think that quality doesn’t come before price. This is something that is very frustrating for the tattooer.

Tattooing has always been kept secret, and with the change in the human race in the last 11 years after 9/11 people’s finance has become an issue. Maybe tattooers keeping the industry so hush, hush has caused somewhat of a minor “uprising”. Clients subconsciously know nothing about the tattoo world so they could give a fuck what we think and what we do. Well, I’m going to lay some things out for all the readers out there that will hopefully help you understand what we at EvoTat go through. I’ll be explaining what I do every week, and why I charge what I charge.

This is not the clients fault or even responsibility to know this information, but it’s good to know the little details of our jobs in comparison to everyone else’s to fully appreciate the sacrifices given. Tattooing isn’t something you can go to school for, there’s no internship, classes, or books anyone can read. Tattooing is knowledge by environment only process. It’s not like measuring chemicals in beakers and pouring them into other beakers to make an all new chemical. Tattooing is knowing by doing, and learning from everyone that you can whenever you can. Tattooing isn’t just a job you pick up and leave and come back to whenever you want. You live it, breathe it, bleed for it, and ultimately die doing it. When our hands are unable to hold a tattoo machine and pull a straight line anymore, maybe we keep on machine building, shop owning, book writing, foot switch making, or even organize conventions. At the end of the day all we have, is tattooing.

"This is a no fuck around situation" - A Godwin
Do the clients, potential clients, friends, and family understand the sacrifices made to live the lifestyle? I don’t think so. I feel disappointment when someone walks into our shop, doesn’t look at our portfolios, doesn’t really know what they want, and they throw some image at us that earlier in day they traced off some print out from Google images. The thought goes through my head, “You have no idea what I go through daily to make sure your tattoo is the best tattoo I’ve ever done!” Sadly, that person standing there showing me the tattoo they want to wear forever on their phone doesn’t care what I go through daily. They’re supposed to pick it, and I’m supposed to stick it.

For those of you who have even bothered to click my link on Facebook and make it this far, here’s what I do in a day, a week, a month, and even a year. This is what I do not for me, but for YOU! If I have arrived at the shop by nine, I head to the machine shop. Hopefully at nine the weather is cool enough for me to grab some safety glasses, gloves, and getting to cutting away metal to start forming frames for a tattoo machine; maybe winding coils, sanding frames, making binders and contact screws. If I’m lucky I will have had a couple hours of breathing metal dust and shavings, and sweating my ass off before I have even stepped in the doors of the tattoo shop. Why would I do this? Because in anything you do, you should know your tools inside and out. Know how to utilize every part on that tool to accomplish the task you are trying to achieve. After almost a year of building I look at all the machines I’ve spent so much time and money on, and value what I have so much more, let alone pick and choose what builds I like the most for the intended tattoo I will be facing that day. Certain machines do certain things and I need those machines to complete the task efficiently while never sacrificing quality. Time is money, and we don’t charge for touch ups, so I need my machines to do the job perfectly the first time!

At 11 am I open the shop and if I haven’t had a chance to eat yet this is when I do. If I have I’ll get to going through emails online through Facebook, and the 4 other emails I have. Going through these emails concern bills for the shop, possible tattooing/art prospects, and machine stuff. Every other Monday I will inventory the shop, get whatever orders from the other artists and put in orders. I will also organize receipts for taxes on those days as well. Mondays usually consist of business maintenance so it won’t get too ahead of me. Tuesdays are normally the days I do artwork for the week and other deposits. It’s rather hard to keep focused on a Tuesday because you also have to have consults for clients, walk in tattoos, and other miscellaneous things. I normally would only tattoo four days week but recently I have found that it’s easier just to work on pieces the day before or the day of the tattoo.

Boromir knows that there's a lot to consider when getting a tattoo.

When I tattoo I do my best to focus on bigger pieces that I can commit three plus hours on that way I can really put my heart into them. Not all the tattoos I do are this size. Naturally some are much larger, and some are much smaller. If I have time I will book two or more appointments in a day. I recently have been trying to keep my consultations short and to the point. Part of a tattooer’s job is to educate in the ways of what will best suit for not only a good tattoo, but one that will outlast the client’s lives. Preferably, the art must be easy to see from across the room. This is extremely hard to teach someone that has become very dead set on the idea they’ve chosen at times. I have found myself sitting down with a person, a couple, or group for sometimes an hour or more trying to shoot out ideas that will better suit the feeling they have and this type of thing takes up a lot time when you’re doing it every day. As I said, I’m working on getting better at that because I have run into people that want someone to stick what they pick, and that’s not what a real tattooer does. In the end it takes away from my time, and other client’s time that have already committed to deposits and appointments.

Daily, as artists we sketch for ourselves or other projects. Our shop is a custom shop so we don’t have flash hanging on the walls. Flash is art designed for tattoos. Lately I have felt my skills in the lowbrow pinup style very lacking so I have been spending a lot of time sketching, lining, and shading women a lot. This type of thing is constantly changing. Whatever arena we are lacking we spend a lot of time with a red pencil sketching and sketching. A lot of these sketches I have decided to turn into a sketch book for other artists to tattoo or use as reference. Not only will these sketches help me, but they will help others as well. This quick style of art consists of shape building, form, flow, shading, and line technique; whether it’s pulling lines, or practicing line weight techniques. Pieces that stand out I will then transfer over for fine art pieces. My main medium outside of tattooing is colored pencil. This takes up quite some time. It’s rather difficult for me to pull out the pencils and commit hours of my day to this task. It’s bittersweet when I do because I’m happy I’m getting down on some pencil work, but on the other hand I’m not tattooing.

When I’m playing around on Facebook, I’m not really playing around. I am promoting the website, promoting new artwork, trying to get slots filled, sell machines, promote the shop, and then I have the shop Facebook page I have to remember to work on. I participate in tattoo groups through Facebook that allow my work to be critiqued so the next tattoo will be better. I analyze other people’s tattoos to figure how they did things so the next tattoo will be better. I will even look back at my own tattoos and tear them apart so the next tattoo will be better. This can take hours of looking at a computer screen. Does this help my tattoos? No, but it sure does help the client’s tattoos that I do for them. It’s difficult to find time to even work on my portfolio, and our website; which houses artist pictures, artist bios, events, sponsored products and much more. The plan was to have an education section, videos, interviews and more on the site and we haven’t found time to do those things with everything else going on. I am seriously behind on my digital goals and it’s rather aggravating. When people come into the shop and ask, “Are you busy?” It’s hard not to just throw our hands up and say, “Fuck yes I’m busy! You have no idea what all I need to get done!” This is why tattooers stay up long nights working on art, websites, portfolios, banners, artwork for conventions, art shows, magazines, and then we still have client art to work on. Let alone, god forbid we have our own personal lives.

Good Guy Greg is a favorite in every tattoo shop. 
That’s right, despite what people think, we do like to do things that aren’t your tattoos! Me personally, I write this blog, play video games, I draw at home for myself, watch movies and shows, and work really hard to find time to cook healthy food and exercise. Sitting on your butt all day doesn’t do a body good. Please remember, a client’s lack of planning does not justify an emergency on the artist’s part. There’s a lot of time that we spend to do the best artwork that will last longer than you will. When you, the client put restrictions on all this stuff we work so hard to do, you’re only shorting yourself. You’re the one that has to walk out and live with the tattoo, we don’t. That’s something that I have to remember as well, you’re the one that has to wear it the tattoo and if you don’t want to rise to occasion to having the best possibly artwork on you forever, then that’s on you. I suppose that’s another blog all together though huh? Yes, it’s already started to be written.

Just the other day I received a DVD on drawing real life. A two and a half DVD that David Kassan put out about how he draws. This DVD cost me $100 bucks. This was after I spent $50 bucks on a book full of sketches from an artist I have been following since I was a wee lad. The day I received the DVD I also ordered two more sketchbooks. One of the books I received is from one of my favorite artists and inspirations, and another book completely about lettering. I find myself getting stuck doing a lot of lettering. Girls think that lettering going up the side is super cool and neat. Alas ladies it is not. You’re not a book, no one wants to read you, but then again, I am a tattooer and I should be helping my clients out. What happens then? The money the last guy paid me to do his tattoo is now being spent on books and DVD’s to learn more the better the next guys tattoo. My point is, I’m not seeing a Rolls Royce in my future well, ever. I spend all my money on books, DVD’s, and future trips to hang out with tattooers to learn even more. Why? To make your tattoo the best tattoo I can!

Yeah, it’s all about you, the client. We work really hard, and sacrifice our entire being to making your tattoo the best tattoo we can give you. So please, give us a break and let us have fun with your tattoo, throw us a tip, spread the word online, and show some love. We appreciate the time, the money, and the skin you’ve given us, so please throw a little back from time to time.

Thanks for those that read this entire thing, I know it’s rather lengthy, but seriously thank you!

Adam Godwin

Don't be a douche.

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