Tattooist, Tattooer, Tattoo Artist?

October 4, 2012

So while I lay wait for my planned arrangements to fall into place let me write about something that confuses me no end. What do you call persons who inject ink under your skin in a pattern to form an image in your dermis?

To my detriment, I don’t pay much attention to titles. And name calling is considered rude.

I once stood before a magistrate (I will not elaborate too much) where she looked at me in amusement as I addressed her completely wrongly and with fallible title. To this day I don’t really know what ‘contempt of court’ is and why she said it but I remember non-specific warnings, lots of people either giggling or in fits of laughter, including officers of the court, then being led down below to the cells- not into a cell, then making a call (I did not own a mobile) to my Knight in Shining Armor uncle, who entered the ‘cellar’ shaking his head and chuckling while he paid some sort of fine for me.

Looking back, I think it annoyed her that I did not refer to her in the accepted form and title. I do have manners and believe I was polite when I approached her as ‘you’ and ‘Mrs. Judge’. American & British law themed shows ran through my mind with titles like ‘Your Honour”, “Honourable Judge”, “Madam Judge”, “Your Worship”, “My Lady”… I still don’t know which to use by way that I don’t intend to be near any court again in further chapters in my life. Knock on wood.

So what is it about titles?

People study for days, weeks, months or even years to earn a title in-front of, behind or below their given names, so why not indicate them as exactly that. The CEO of a corporation wants to be acknowledged as a CEO of a corporation. A chairperson of a committee wants to be identified differently to committee members and wants to be acknowledged as a chairperson. True also for a landscaper who doesn’t want to be indicated as just a gardener.

As easy as that?!

People who tattoo are at times a fickle bunch.

I’ve only walked into and paged through portfolios at 11 tattoo parlours in the Cape Town District and cruised on past 16 dodgy looking ones. I dress conservatively in long sleeves and thick leggings to not show a millimeter of inked skin, regardless of weather, so that I can cross out prejudiced egocentric tattooers. Therein lay my definition of “Tattooer”. I define a Tattooer as that person who tattoos and is all costumed up to a chosen stereotype and expects to receive a photocopy stereotype client, as a fundamental right to his profession. A “Tattooer” befittingly ignores any hypothetical client who steps in by virtue of not looking the part.

This specimen usually has an air of: I’m just too cool and hardcore to even acknowledge your presence in my parlour because that would just be… uncool.

I take a flip through their portfolios and haul my uncoolness out of there. The portfolios are stately filled with nothing I haven’t seen before and probably have seen numerous people with the exact tattoos. (Random fact: I remember persons by their tattoos and thus never forget their names if they provide me with one).

Some Tattooers incense me to spit fiery words.

But Tattooists and Tattoo Artist’s leave me twisted. Under my definition both are extremely talented. A Tattooist is flexible and they can manage a range of styles and techniques but have no identifiable trademark, yet. Trademarks take a lot of studying, observing and curiosity on the tattooists part.

I believe a Tattoo Artist has not necessarily developed a technique but has a unique style or tattoos only in specific niche genres e.g. Russian, Photo-realistic, 3D, Pointillism, cartoon, Sci-Fi, Biomechanics, Portraiture or they’re more adept at tattooing specific themes or concepts to the effect of Animals, Sugar Skulls, Zombies, Script and so on.

To me both are equally adequate but I don’t understand why some people who tattoo have this glint of injury in their eyes when I mistakenly err in calling them one or the other.

Either way, for me to gas on persons who inject ink under the skin as a GOOD Tattooist/ Tattoo Artist beyond apparent talent, is propped on how they feel and act about their profession and how they treat disciples or prospective loyal patrons. I in turn target at keeping my attitude sincere and in check in their company and in speaking about them, of course relying on my fractious temper.

Maya Angelou said it best: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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