“There are two ways of spreading light. To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
— Edith Wharton
I’ve always been for the underdog. The earliest I can remember was in Kindergarten, there was one girl who no one would play with because they said she had “the cooties.”
Let’s call her Kim. The other kids made fun of her, her clothes, her mother – anything they could use to be some cruel little jerks. And it really hurt my feelings. Before I saw her crying. Before I saw her mother consoling her with tears in her own eyes.
Out on the blacktop at recess one day, I decided to invite Kim to play Two Square. Of course, I got “the cooties” too because I touched the same ball. *rolls eyes to Pluto and back* But they got an earful of a 5-year-old’s impatience for their blatant ignorance and disgusting stupidity.
Since then, and especially since studying Anthropology, I’ve been keenly aware of people’s ignorance, intolerance, and egocentrism, and it pains me, really.
I find some sort of relief from that pain through art.
Some related background: My husband is a tattoo artist. I do tattoos as well, but I prefer writing. All in all, I still appreciate the art to which I’ve seen him dedicate his entire life.
So when I see comments like the ones pictured below, there’s a rage that brews in the pit of my stomach, not unlike the anger I’ve experienced since I was 5 years old.
The first was in an email from someone supposedly well-versed in the arts enough to “judge.” My response is below:
Why draw? Why paint? The same way one of your traditional artists can look at, say, a tree, draw said tree, then paint it, is the same way we can look at a compass or lock and key, draw it, even paint it (if we have time), then tattoo it on someone. No do-overs, no oopsies, no buy-a-new-canvas-and-try-again, no Bob Ross’ing it (“let’s just turn in into a little pretty bird”).
We have one shot to perfect a piece of art for a client who holds a symbol of love, a marker of triumph, or a memorial of a family member so dearly that s/he wants it permanently on their skin, where it can’t be lost, stolen, or damaged. The manner in which a painting can hang in the foyer and spark a conversation is the same principle behind a semicolon on the wrist or a military dagger on the shoulder of a female soldier.
We create living breathing art for a generation valuing the experience of life and probably too busy living to worry about his Matisse collecting dust.
We create beautiful pieces for women who’ve beat breast cancer and had C-sections, for burn victims and domestic abuse survivors; we turn scars of shame into pieces of pride and watch the self-esteem and overall mood of a client lift to heights they couldn’t even imagine.
There’s your why, which we push harder and harder for everyday.
I’m not upset about your decision, and, quite honestly, I skipped all the talk about color and the election. I’m floored by the ignorance behind the assumption that just anyone could pick up a tattoo machine, “copy an image,” and make it look as good while having an even greater impact on someone’s life. Picasso’s napkin.
Congratulations to the winners, and I hope your organization continues to help families of artists in ALL media.
I saw this one in a thread of comments on a post about bad tattoos. No lie, those were some horrible f*cking tattoos, but clearly not from tattoo artists. Emphasis on artists.
Even still, …really, girl? Really?
You’re right. We aren’t. Neither was Steve Jobs. Or even the poor saps who saw the stencils on them and still gave the
artists people doing the tattoos the thumbs up. Are you?
I hope that I can clearly convey this not as an emotional rant, but more as a plea for people to become more self-aware of their own ignorance and either work to shed light on them, or just not say anything at all. Good God.