When was the last time you picked up the telephone to tell someone you miss them, rather than shoot them a short text? How about the last time you wrote a letter with a pen and paper instead of typing out an email?
In a world that is filled with modern conveniences, where do we draw the line on letting modernizations replace our traditions? We’ve let algorithms take over picking who we should date, we’ve let our fridges tell us when we need to buy milk, and we’re even letting our cars do our parallel parking for us… but where do we stop it?
One form of tradition that hasn’t given in to the mass hysteria of modernization and technical updates is tattooing. While the quality of ink and the level of talent have clearly risen since its mainstream rebirth in the early 1900s, the art has generally remained the same. Sure, there are new tattoo machines in play—but they’re very similar to the original designs of the 1800s, given how many years have passed in between. There is no computer running your tattoo, it’s all done by hand. An artist draws up your sketch and hand places the stencil onto your skin. The process has still remained fairly close to the original, too.
Regardless of the artist you choose, you will most likely have to go in for a consultation—especially if you’re asking for a custom piece, a cover-up, or something a little out of the ordinary. This requires a face to face meeting—a full-blown conversation in which you share your vision with the artist and he or she listens…really listens…to what you have to say.
With social media and text messaging dominating our method of conversation, it is safe to say that we don’t much listen to each other anymore. We skim, we skip, we ignore…so having someone really listen to you, even when it’s just about something like artwork, can be exhilarating. And that sense of understanding continues long after the initial consultation. To the artist, getting your piece right is important—they want you to wear a design you can feel pride in. So, this means creating a line of open communication between you and them, so that you can both create a piece together that satisfies every need.
Once the day comes, and the piece has been tweaked and tailored and agreed upon, the artist will want to keep that open line of communication. As they begin, and throughout the process, the artist will want you to be open with them—truthful about how you’re handling the procedure. If it’s really hurting and you need to take a break, be honest. They don’t want to risk you flinching, passing out, or throwing up as it can damage the piece in the process. They’ll keep checking up on you, asking if you’re okay or if you need to take a break. It is vital to be upfront about it. The artist would prefer you have a good taste in your mouth about the experience than suffer through in silence. Someone who enjoys the experience is more likely to be a repeat customer, so it’s best for everyone all around for you to keep an open line of communication throughout the entire process.
The open line of communication is one of the reasons that makes tattooing stand out as one of the last traditional art forms. You have to converse, face to face, in a method that isn’t the norm these days. Tattooing forces people to talk, to discuss, to be honest, and open with one another. And it’s a beautiful thing.
So, go get a tattoo. Spend some time, one on one, with another human being—and walk away with a beautiful piece of art embedded upon your skin in the process.