Sunday, 13 May 2012

Creeping commodification

I had some more ink on Saturday - my version of pampering therapy I suppose. I always enjoy the experience. In terms of describing the kick out of being tattooed ,  I'm afraid it is just one of those classic 'if I have to explain you won't understand' things.But in addition to that, I always enjoy the inevitable chat whilst captive in the chair. 

To those burdened with the usual prejudices about people with tattoos - it would may be come as quite a shock to hear the subject mater we managed to cover:  Amongst other things - academic Mary Beard, the despicable role of the Catholic church in repressing women for two thousand years, the demise of progressive ideas about education, and gentrification and inner city renewal. It had been a while since I'd visited the tattoo shop so a certain amount of time was also spent on catching up on personal news - in particular the end of my time in the graphic world and my switch to teaching. In return I was told  that times are tough in the world of tattooing too. So much so that my much-loved tattoo shop - where all my work so far has been done - is now struggling to keep going.

The parallels with my former trade are all too strong. Tattooing may not be about to be off-shored to India but time-served craftspeople are being undercut by those who've watched a few episodes of LA Ink, have a rudimentary grasp of Adobe Creative Suite and can grab some basic inking equipment on Ebay.

'Scratchers' are of course nothing new. But the depressing recent phenomenon is that everything is apparently being reduced to price and instant gratification. People shop around for the cheapest quote not for the best tattooist. They haggle over the cost. And apparently the latest development amongst the hipsters is to ask for their tattoos to be 'aged' and weathered to provide that authentic old-skool look -  immediately. Fucking hell.

I shouldn't be surprised. As the great man said, all relations under capitalism are doomed to to reduced to 'the cash nexus'. But it is particularly sad to hear that it has crept into a funky little word which I had hoped was somehow immune from all that shit.

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