I went to the airport today to pick up my buddy Andre Malcolm. Andre tattoos in San Francisco and is one of the more prolific tattooers out there today. We are around the same age and have been tattooing for the same general length of time. Our perspectives on life are fairly similar.
When I was younger, I was like most and I was easily impressed & very wide eyed in general but specifically towards music and art. The majority of my visual focus was set on tattooing. Socially and philosophically I pulled from music and multiple "underground" circles of angsty rockers and randomly misplaced teenagers. The close-knit, familial-esque, circle of tattooing back in the early nineties felt very comfortable and often mirrored those indie rock/punker circles. Which I do find humorous because, in my wide eyed gaze, both tattooing and metal appeared violent and agressive, so I find it ironic, in hindsight, how welcoming and friendly it all really was. Sure it was tough at first, as the outsider, but everyone was really an outsider anyways.
I can't say that I am even a tenth as engaged in the music scenes as I was in my twenties so I can't speak for those circles at all. Tattooing has certainly turned into than another industry that resembles any other "job" from 10,000 feet. In my daily life, day in, day out, making tattoos on clients, it really has only changed for the better but from up above, at a distance, it has taken a new form completely unrecognizable from what it was 20 years ago. This change has put many of my generation into a position of day upon day, dinner after dinner, beer after beer and convention upon convention, rambling endlessly about the "good ole days"....days that we in actuality missed by a decade anyways. The reality is, our generation is to blame for the big change. It was our age bracket of artists, all 40-45 yrs old now, at least in my opinion, ushered in the publicity to feed our vanity. Which ultimately changed the familiar circle into an industry. Changes comes, I suppose, I welcome it as much as I can.
It does make me think. It concerns me that I grew up and had Henry Rollins to look up to and my kid has Justin Beiber? or A$AP-Rocky?....of course I am glad that I own a position of influence and I think I am doing an okay job but It is all just crazy right? Now I know my generation had lots of pop crap too. We actually had so much pop crap in the 80's that the pendelum swung back and got the creative juices to revolt at least for a moment. It just all feels terrible and watery. We went from Genki Sudo to Conor McGregor. I got Bernie Wrightson and they get Banksy. KRSone to Lil' Wayne. From Metallica to....well to Metallica. What a Shame.
Back to the introductory thought, what me and Andre were rambling on about, what do these kids have? Marcus Pacheco in 1995 was breaking ground and we all sat back in wondrous awe...and what now? What do kids you have? Well don't get me wrong, I am still blown away by tattooers. Blown away on a level that inspires both my progressive motion while it deflates my ego. I suppose it is maybe like music, I am still impressed but I wonder what the hell these 19 year old guys and gals have to freak out over. What is the comparision for this day and age? Because it seems like we can friends and they have "followers". We had human relations and we knew what they looked like, we knew what they smelled like and we knew how fast they were to throw a punch...often how fast they would punch you. We had to deal with bullies and we often became the bully only to learn from it and grow out of it. It all seemed tangible and real. It was personal.
Now its just Instagram. At least for the tattoo world and fuck it's killing me. Our communication has been chipped away at so severely that we don't even recognize it anymore. Like the rad girl in high school that got so much "work" done you don't remember what she ever looked like to begin with. This week alone, I have been told stories by clients about how easy it is to get laid if you have a large following on Instagram....or how hard it is to get a job if you don't. Seriously. It is a world where they might look up your social creditals before the date, just to see if the should waste their time. And we opt for this? We are seriously selling our ocean view, corner office for the basement cubical? It's a fucking treadmill. Its mastering tricks on Tony Hawk's skateboarding video game. Its Monopoly money. Its Guitar Hero. it is not real. It has been become a simulation.
It is absolute madness.
I suppose we do have to take it serious, because it has become a real thing. I suppose it is just life and change begs to be invited in....and it will come inside, wether it is invited in or not. I think I just find myself more aware recently as my kids get older and their lives just seem to lack a particular beauty that my youth had....even tho they have infinitely "more" than I ever did.
Less, seems to truly be, more.