Since I arrived to the UK I wanted to talk about this peculiar phenomenon of a random person opening or owning a tattoo shop. Most countries I lived and worked in have been owned by a tattoo artist except in the UK, where all of them (except one) I worked is been own by an investor. When I had work in places own by an artist the whole dynamics in the studio is different, we talk about art, politics, social justice, music, painting etc. there is also a sense of care and professionalism to what we are doing.
For example if I did something wrong I’m definitely will be told off by the artist owner but because of my own safe and the studio client, this mean I will be teach by that artist what I did wrong and how I can change that so is safe to work. Yes you might think did the artist put you in a training course? The answer is NO! In some cases was just been told what not to do and how to do in the right way, others where more “aggressive” I mean like they had thrown things at me, they shout at me or they even place a prank so I will definitely remember I did something wrong. All of them teach me and with all the ups and downs I was and will alway be grateful , you also might think why would you be grateful?
Because I had the opportunity to learn that’s why! Then tattoo artist owned studio they run their studios to perfection in terms of cross contamination, there are standards that need to be in place and we work together to make it happen.
Then in “tattoo business” run by a random person either someone that though that know about tattoos, someone that manages a premises that can potentially host a tattoo studio (Jewelry shop, barber, gallery) or a beginner tattooist I had experience all sort off not good experiences.
The first shop I came to London (which I’m still infinitely grateful ) brought me to UK from Spain to restructure their business model, long short story I did my job to perfection and in 4 years the business make £1m and open 2 new other studios. But at the price of a very exhausting mental and physical bill, the business model they wanted and actually I put on place was to run the space assign in absolute profitable space so no rest for the artist, ideally no days off, no holidays , cheep labour and maximise the space. I did that and even beyond, I manage to do even more that 3
time what they expected me to do as manager and if we talk purely in business, yes is not what you want from the tattoo business….. or any business.
In terms of the quality of the art, the owners they didn’t give an actual fuck about it, we had daily , weekly and monthly meeting to asses the business model but we never asses creativity, art or the artist evolution, it was only about how we can see more money coming into the business.
In the beginning I thought my experience with this type of owner it was something quite exceptional and that’s why I did what I did to make business an actually business. But going through the year I notice that is a very common thing to do in UK.
Now by 2018 I have seen a growing outrageous amount of bikershop, hairshops, even pubs opening tattoo shops and I thinking to my self so if I like food and I’m a tattoo artist should I open a restaurant? Or because I love shoes should I start to sell or manufacture shoes at the same premises because I like that? Doesn’t it make any sense that tattoo artist ( the real ones, not the millennials that learn everything from Instagram or YouTube) we should do such a think?
Now days majority of this so called “tattoo shops” they do it for only two main desire.
One is ego: because the owners think they have this special status that as a normal human being they will never have and they can make friends, feel like they are idols like freakin footballers because they get a sponsor or been shown in a magazine/tv show that they been begging to have their pictures or history of their life on there platform.
Second is Money: because is the easiest way to money laundering their wealthy daddy or mammy that give their prodigy kid to do something of their life while seams like their are doing a great thing.
What I try to get acknowledged is that this places are are just there to make money because if you are uninformed you are an easy target to get rip off or even worst, just use your weak knowledge for their economic gain.
Is a very long topic but every day, month and year I seen great artist that pave this trade with effort and respect been left decide to leave everything and give up, after so many years of love and effort. And yes I’m sad….. very sad for that. That’s why you are reading this.
I feel that I failed to create knowledge and respect in a trade that I love for more that a 1/4 of a century and is nothing I can do apart to writing a blog about it.