Hello, friends, family , clients, and other random people of the inter-web that landed here. welcome to the new, and improved, 71 Tattoo official website! The site has gone through a few changes over the years, but I’m very happy with how it looks, and it’s user-friendly capabilities. Was never a fan of the ” flash” style sites, seems way to much can go wrong, and they never looked all that awesome on mobile devices, we’re still working out a few kinks, but the all new, all-different 71 tattoo.com should be 100% dialed in any time now. I want to thank Lori @ 564design for all of her help, and patience in dealing with all this, she’s good at what she does, so anyone with IT needs/or issues contact her and tell her we sent you.
I’m going to try to update the site as often as possible including writing a blog that covers my take on various aspects of our ” industry”, admittedly , I HATE that term, I never thought of tattooing as an ” industry”, and other topics including music, comics, and pop culture nuggets…
So, when I started tattooing in late ’94 , I never, ever thought my art/craft would be referred to as an ” industry” however that’s where we find ourselves in 2016. With the popularity and social acceptance of tattooing, what with the various ‘Miami Ink” shows, and the dreaded ” Ink Masters” show, coupled with tattoo style art on literally everything, fueled in part by Don Ed Hardy selling his soul to designer Christian Audigier , thus seeing his decades-old-tattoo designs plastered on every Jersey-Shore style meathead dudes sparkly jeans. The ironic thing was ed hardy himself had whailed on the alleged ” commercialization of tattooing ” on many occasions in the late 80’s and 90’s, yet sold his soul for untold amounts of money only to see his once-loved art/artwork completely bastardized and plastered on everything from said sparkly jeans to air freshener, to sun covers for your cars windshield.
Suddenly tattoos/tattoo-style art were everywhere, on everything, this had been building for a decade or so, fueled by early 90’s ” alternative ” bands in heavy rotation on MTV showing off their tribal arm bands , celebrities with tiny tattoos, like Johnny Depp for example, and, in no small part, NBA players like Dennis Rodman and Allen Iverson covered in ink for the world to see, sudden;ly tattooing went from a outlaw, underground, low brow art for the weirdos, convicts and ne’er do-wells to celebrity athlete types. Things exploded with the TV shows, the Kat Von D phenomenon , then Ed Hardy’s once-cherished art work plastered everywhere on everybody, but those awful reality-TV shows are to blame in my opinion for all of whats transpired .
Those shows depicted a soap-opera environment ( which actually is pretty true , if you’ve ever hung around tattoo guys/girls in a shop environment) where it was glamorized , Kat Von D being the main culprit, and along with Dave Navarro the bane of my existence, showing a party-party atmosphere , a rock star lifestyle, where one can party all night and sleep till noon, then draw on some” hot chicks”, then go out, get free drinks, and rinse, wash, repeat…They did not show the hours of prep time that goes into drawing designs for people, they didn’t show all the behind the scenes pain-in-the-ass stuff that’s involved in tattooing as far as day-to-day prep work goes, Ill touch that at a later date, they glamorized our craft, and sure there’s some of that, if one wants it, but the producers of these awful shows dropped the ball as far as showing the whole picture in my opinion.
what happened is hordes of dumb-asses simultaneously rose up off the couch and said ” wow, tattooing looks cool, I can party all night and make a ton of money with minimal effort, even though I cant draw” and suddenly people with no art skills, drive, integrity, or love-of-the-art/craft set out to become tattoo ” artists” . Any reputable shop, SHOULD doesn’t always mean they DO turn these hordes away, but a few slip threw the cracks, and or wind up at Smoke Shops who saw tattooing as an opportunity to make more money, hired people who have no clue what the fuck they are doing, unleashing them on an unsuspecting, naive public often to disastrous results. Suddenly tons of tattoo shops were springing up everywhere, Albuquerque being a prime example of all this, for instance when I left Albuquerque and the shop I started/apprenticed at , Rt. 66 Fine Line in 1996 there were 5-6 shops in Albuquerque 20 years later there over 70 (!!!!!!!!!!!) . Most of these shops employed people who hadn’t served a real apprenticeship, never paid their dues, couldn’t draw and basically had no business whatsoever tattooing people. Not satisfied with doing shitty work on people, these so-called ” artist” left whatever shop/smoke shops they were employed by and set out on their own to open a shop, figuring they’d make more money, then, hired an apprentice, who didn’t pay their dues, couldn’t draw, worked for a year, left, opened his/her own tattoo shop, got an apprentice, who soon left, opened a shop, got an apprentice, who left, opened a shop, got an apprentice….you see where I’m going with this .
This also fueled people to open tattoo supply business’s, online or local, in an attempt to cash in on the “popularity”, but had way less integrity, selling equipment and supplies to people who clearly had no business with a tattoo machine in their hands, but these suppliers could give a shit, because they were attempting to make money, selling inferior equipment, to inferior artists, all for profit, or alleged profit, these people are just as responsible as the shitty owners of these smoke shop places, or fly by night shops in the explosions of shitty tattoos carved into peoples skin.
Of the 70-plus shops in and around my city, all but about 5-6 of them are pretty below par, some being downright awful, and even some of the alleged good shops employ so many people, that really it depends in who you get as far as quality gores, if you employ 20 artists obviously not all of them are going to be good, I personally have never, ever seen the logic in employing so many people, preferring instead to turn away people, that I don’t feel are up to my standards, I don’t employ people solely for the purpose of making money, and I’ve fired people for not being up to my standards. I’ve only apprenticed TWO people in 22 years, one every 11 years, one, in Seattle, now doesn’t even work in the “industry” preferring to bow out in ’00-01 to concentrate on doing graphic design, and the other, stuck with tattooing , paid his dues, and now works at another shop in town, a good one, so he’s earned it.
I don’t pump out apprentices, the market is already way over-saturated, I see no reason to add to this, solely for profit, i dont employ a million people, in an attempt to make even more money, thus , again, saturating the market even more, preferring to hire 3-5 quality guys . I’m not in this solely for profit, I do tattoos because I love the art , the craft, the culture, and the life style. I certainly don’t do it for money. I don’t own a tattoo shop for the purpose of only making money, I’m not an absentee owner, I work 5 days a week, I opened a shop , here and in Seattle, because, I learned at my original shop, I don’t like working for people, this was re-enforced again, when I moved back to ABQ and worked at some old ” friends” shop that I don’t like working for other people. Ive been running/operating a tattoo studio in some capacity for 20 years, I don’t feel like being told what to do by people who’s integrity I cant get behind.
I’m not meaning to suggest myself and my shop are the best, I’m not suggesting my way is the way to go, I’m not bad mouthing anybody else, Ive used no names, or shop name specifically, I simply pointing out that clients, and potential clients nee d to do their homework when thinking of a tattoo, or thinking of finding a new artist. Just because someone hangs a sing that’s says ” tattoo” in their window does not mean they have the slightest clue what they’re doing, just because someone stuffed the ballots and wound up on a ” best of ” list does not mean they are the best, do your homework, go into shops, ask to see the autoclave, the spore test log, look at portfolios, ask questions, do your due diligence, its permanent, or as we’ve said in the business for years ” Think before you ink ”
Owner/operator/artist/bill payer 71 Tattoo
23 years in the ” industry”