Tattoos: The Disease I Couldn't Live With Out.
This piece is written to clear up what all the fuss is about for those with little or no experience with tattoos and their effect on your life: the positives and the negatives.
Personally, I design tattoos for people, paint, write poems and songs and work as sales manager at O Bar Birmingham. My passion in life is tattoos. The meanings, the designs, the placement and the permanence. I got my first taste aged 18, and although this first one didn't turn out to be one I regretted, many others have been. I only realised this fact after a very brief conversation with one of the most interesting, respected and talked about fellas in Birmingham: Jay Read. After that conversation I knew I was getting tattooed just for the sake of it, instead of my choices being unique and thought out, I was dicking around with tribal designs. However the biggest mistake I was making, was letting a tattooist, who had little to no creative flare and a very heavy hand, carve bad designs into my skin leaving mostly scar tissue. Every moment in the chair should be an experience, obviously the completion is the most important and relevant part, but once you know what to expect from your tattooist, RELAX and enjoy the jokes, the smell and the pain. So, things had to change. I found a great artist in Philippa Parlett who helped me to redesign my sleeve and left pec. I then took an interest in Piers Lee's work who was new to the industry, but creatively brilliant. I enjoyed taking designs of my own to him and seeing his innovative influence over them. Both Philippa and Piers are great at black and grey work which until now has been my primary style.
Being tattooed will alter peoples perception of you from the old lady at the bus stop to the kids on the street. So if you are sensitive to this: DON'T do it. I really couldn't careless how people perceive me anymore, I am who I am whether YOU like me or not. I imagine every tattooed person will know that actions determine who you are and not a piece of artwork on your skin, a tattoo shows what a painter puts on canvas, a story, an experience, a memory, a gesture, important words or pictures that you abide by or that has changed your life. Either way this has not stopped me from nearly being deported from Newark Airport: twice, and once from being refused entry into Buffalo New York from Toronto Canada. Each time I was asked if I was part of a gang because of my music tattoos. "Oh yes officer, the U.S. Embassy always grants English lads a working visa to Marketing Managers of music companies posing as The Mafia". Although sometimes in some professional circles tattoos are looked down on and can give certain people the opinion that we are threatening, degenerates or unsuccessful.
With that said, the two most respected and reputable people in my city: Respected because of what they've achieved and their positive and lucrative attitudes; Reputable for their unique and original styles. So to the aforementioned Jay Read. I feel the need to express I do not know Jay on a close friend basis. However, Jay is known primarily for his street wear brand Jilted Royalty and his recently opened street wear outlet in the heart of the city: The Candy Store. All pieces produced by JR are exclusive, and are VERY sought after. He has combined distinctive and somewhat intricate designs on his pieces with affordable prices, not just that, Jay, is very approachable and genuinely charismatic. After all these attributes, you could not mistake Jay's 'look': facially tattooed by Xed (the number one in the world for dot work), split tongue, tattooed balls, hands and fingers. Jay did not obey the unwritten rule that most peoples' employers, mentors, tutors, parents and friends advise: Don't get your hands, neck or face tattooed. But god damn this has not stopped him making an absolute success of himself, in fact I believe it has somewhat helped.
I have taken the plunge deeper into the tattoo world and have started both sides of my neck off, and instantly felt the eyes of every security guard in every shop watch me that little closer. But tattoos are to satisfy yourself, no one else, so don't be like I used to be and get them because you want to look cool. That's what I like to call a prick move. Yes a skilful tattooist will make a tattoo aesthetically pleasing to a lot of people, but it should really be designed and thought out with more than the thought 'this looks cool and he'll do', it should be 'this is a design I am 100 percent happy with and this is the tattooist who I trust to deliver the goods'.
On to Rue Jay... Another top lad, great at what he does and shoots for the sky whilst covered in tattoos. Rue is the most respected and well known club and event promoter in Birmingham, obviously talented on the decks and fantastic at marketing himself both contribute to him making such a superb accomplishment with Spin, Rock n Rolla, Simma and Bambu nights. These four weekly events are unquestionably the most prestigious parties in the city. Rue has mainly black and grey tattoos covering his chest, back, neck, arms and hands. Another unique career, another unique personality.
My point keeping both of these fine examples in mind is this ... If you have the ballsy attitude, and you combine a unique style with an optimistic outlook and a friendly demeanour then no matter how many tattoos and no matter where they are placed on your body they should not prevent you gaining the success Rue and Jay have strived towards. The next step for me is to jump on a tattooing apprenticeship to understand the hygiene factors, the techniques and the ongoing learning experiences that take a tattooist from just being an employed tracer over to the side of a creditable creative artist.
With all that in mind: Be who you are, learn from those around you, don't rush, research everything and create your own style.
submitted by: craigaldous
on: 04 Oct. 2011
in BME Editorials
Artist: Craig Aldous / Jay Read /
Studio: All Over
Location: All Over