Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guns and Tats

When I first started writing Tattoosday, I may have had a couple of tattoos, but I was really very naïve when it came to the subject of the craft itself.

I learned very quickly, maybe within the first week or so, that one should never refer to a tattoo machine as a "gun". An anonymous reader chastised me over that one and I still bear the emotional scars of that mistake.

Another term that is thrown around a lot is "tats". Again, I started out thinking that it was okay, and was quickly called out by a reader.

In all fairness, you hear the words "tat," "tatted up," and other variations with fairly common regularity, so it's not as taboo as calling a machine, a gun, but I made a decision early on to use the extra syllable, and always say "tattoo". It just sounds better, and since I am writing posts that I assume will live forever, I figure I better use full and proper terminology.

Next up: who are the Meaty-Beaties, and why don't I like them?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tattoosday Overflow and the Inkspotting Glossary

It’s the circle of life.

BillyBlog begat Tattoosday and, since then, BillyBlog has been my neglected alter-ego. But, there may be hope. I have decided to attempt yet another form of CPR, and it involves Tattoosday.

I have often wanted to write about Tattoosday on Tattoosday, but everything came across as a replacement of a legitimate tattoo-on-the-street post, which is generally what people want to see on Tattoosday, so I often wrote, and then scrapped my prose.

So now BillyBlog may (I hate to say will, lest I get caught in a lie) be an overflow for Tattoosday, where I can tell stories like this:

Last week, I spotted an incredible tattoo on Penn Plaza, outside of Borders, where I often go inkspotting. The tattoo will never be seen on Tattoosday, despite its awesomeness. It was a double skull with Indian headdresses, and it was exceptionally done.

I approached the gentleman who had the tattoo, as he was talking to a woman. I expressed my admiration for the piece and handed him the Tattoosday flier. Having done this for almost four years, I have a fairly good sense of things, and can read body language and tone pretty well. I felt that he was willing, until his female companion stepped in.

“Actually,” she snarled, “the artist has a picture up on his website and I don’t think he’d like anyone else takin’ a picture of it.”

If we were in a room, you would have heard the air being sucked out of it. She was basically saying that, on behalf of the artist, she was intervening and preventing this guy from sharing his tattoo on the site. Usually, doing so gives the artist more publicity and is beneficial.

The tattoo was great, but not worth fighting about. They seldom are. But I was curious, and I might like to see the artist’s work, so I asked, “Oh, what’s the artist’s name?” A perfectly reasonable question, if you ask me.

The response, “Oh he’s in Oklahoma,” and then with derision in her voice, “you wouldn’t have heard of him.”

I didn’t ask if I’d heard of him. I asked his name. It was clear I wasn’t going to get anything from this encounter, other than a headache. I couldn’t help but validate my position and say, “I’ve been doing this almost four years, and I’ve interviewed people from all over the world, so you’d be surprised. I may have heard of him.”

She just shook her head and said “Doubt it.” To which, I looked at the guy, who hadn’t uttered a peep since his female companion had intervened on his behalf, and on behalf of the unheralded tattoo artist, and said, “Thanks for your time. Have a good weekend.”

I refer to this type of encounter as a “Frohner,” in which a third party disrupts, dissuades, and/or discourages a tattooed individual from collaborating with me on a post. The name comes from an old fraternity brother who had the uncanny knack of unwittingly walking in on a situation in which a guy was establishing a mood with a girl. Said disruption ended up preventing the couple from hooking up and he was blamed for the guy’s inability to “close the deal”. Juvenile as it may sound, Frohner became synonymous with mood-killer and, to me, represents a person who ruins, for me, an inkspotting encounter.

Dear reader(s), you may see now why I didn’t want to bog down Tattoosday with such marginally interesting drivel. My readers generally like to read about tattoos and see the works in question, not hear about the failures. Nonetheless, I’m a writer, and I have to channel it somewhere, so BillyBlog gets the overflow. Stay tuned for more misadventures.