Tattoos, and Controlling the infection of the Mouth

Dear Colleagues,
I have recently been asked to share a little more information on the problem the tattoo profession has been having for a long time. And that problem is the over stating of infection problems running rampant through out the profession, that do not actually exist.

This problem has been blamed on the selling of tattoo equipment over the counter to any one that wants it. And blamed on the Scratchers that wont/don’t try hard enough to become a good street shop tattooer. Let me tell you, the people taking the heat are not the problem.
There is not an Infection Problem. That is the problem, No problem really exists. Saying the sky is falling when it really isn’t is very stupid, and has hurt the advancement of modern tattooing techniques.

Let me tell you once and for all. Tattoo equipment sellers have never infected anyone. There is not any recognizable Problem with the selling of Tattools…. Grow the fuck up, Get over the fact that your competition can buy Tattools every where. Just do better tattoo work and shut up about infections unless you actually have one. If you have an infection, deal with it.

Infection sometime do happen to freshly tattooed skin. But if you actually know the truth about Blood born Pathogens, and you should know, you will know that infection that do accrue in a person that has been recently tattooed almost exclusively comes from the hygene of the tattooed, not the Tattooer, and especially the Manufacturer/Seller of the Tattools.

In my 30 years of experience, Scratchers do not cause infections any better or any more than professionals do. I would bet that 99% of all tattoo related infections come from the results of inadequate aftercare.
This may be attributed to poor advice from the Tattooer, but that is not the same as blaming the tattoo procedure or the Tattool equipment.

This is a letter I wrote to the Editor of Pain Magazine last year in response to a “Rants and Rave” article Published in the August 2010 issue of Pain Mag. See for more information and a look at the actual article. The article I am responding to, was originally written by Mace Arnold, who was at the time, was a (not very good) representative of Alliance of Professional Tattooing.

The following is unedited, and is in response to the article written by Mace Arnold.

Atten; Mace Arnold and J. Beck,
Re; Rants and Rave article, #99 pain magazine, Aug. 2010

You sure let the worms lose with the rants and rave Comments in issue #99 Aug 2010 by Mace Arnold , Representative for the Alliance of Professional Tattooist, and followed up with some real
thoughtful – thoughtless comments by J. Beck, North Carolina.
The comments by the APT Rep. Mace Arnold on Hepatitis C being spread around Kansas by the – “SCRATCHERS” – was unprofessional, irresponsible, and dereliction of his duty as a representative of the APT and a general Member of the Tattoo Profession. No true to the art professional tattooer should ever bring this much negative attention to the profession with out positive proof consisting of a name and date his allegation occurred. Show me the documented evidence that a Hepatitis C infection actually occurred, and was absolutely traced back to a specific tattooer, or a specific tattooing event.

I say this never happened, and that Mace Arnold is only blowing smoke up every ones ass, just like those other Bigshots did 10-11 years ago, saying the same crap. The people spuing the crap this time, just like last time are just trying to make a bigger deal out of the selling of tattoo equipment than it really is. I say all these rumormongers are really just afraid of the up coming competition. Even if someone did contact Hep C in Kansas, we still need to see the positive proof to make these comments legitimate, including the prosecution results of the tattooer at fault.

Tell me, Mr. Arnold and J. Beck. Besides the operation expense and the permit requirements. Just what is the difference between a “scratcher”, and a tattooer working out of a street shop? NOTHING, is the correct answer. They are both trying to tattoo for fun or money, or both, just like you. Well wait a second, there is several minor differences.

The Street-Shop tattooers I know are arrogant and narrow minded. They are totally afraid to learn anything new, and generally tend to be very limited on imagination and drive, so, generally speaking street shops operators don’t contribute much to the improvement of the profession.

On the other hand; Through my experience selling equipment to all types of people interested in tattooing, I have found it is more likely that the dedicated scratcher that is buying my state of the art equipment is more artistically inclined, and willing to learn new to the industry techniques. Techniques that the common street-shop tattooers (or old timers) don’t have the drive to learn.
So, in my experience, those scratchers you guys are complaining about are the next generation tattoo Masters. And I am sorry to say to you Mr Mace Arnold, you are not a “Master Tattooer,” under any stretch of the word you are not a master. But the people that I have been teaching how to tattoo with my tattool equipment are the new to the industry leaders and next generation Masters. You just wait and see.

If J Beck is talking about the street shops that sell import equipment to both scratchers and other cheap street-shop operators, being responsible for some of the street shop quality work walking the streets, I couldn’t agree with him more.
And when machine manufacturers whose machines sell for several hundred dollars more than the imports, because of high quality craftsmanship and/or present technical abilities other machine can’t provide are not allowed to show their style of equipment at tattoo conventions because some BIG name Tattoo equipment importer has a monopoly on the convention floor, makes it so only the cheap imports are available to the cheap people that buy them.
Cheap is what cheap does. Sell cheap machines and you get cheap work. Cheap Con-men run conventions that allow cheap imports to be sold is one of the biggest problems with all of the con-men running the convention circuit. Mr J Beck is right on this one. Cheap machines should not be sold at professional grade shops, or professional conventions, or any where else. But you, Mr J Beck shouldn’t lump all equipment manufacturers/sellers in the same category as the cheap imports trouble makers. If you do, you won’t see any new techniques, ever, and you’ll prove to be just another cheap impostor like so many others..

And, Not all working tattooers, not working in a licensed shop are bums. Even part time professionals know how to sterilize their equipment and sanitize their work area. I actually know several part time tattooers that tattoo better than both you do. They work from their house and maintain the same type of work environment that you are supposed to keep. I don’t think working out of the house is good business practice and I certainly think they don’t respect the legitimate frame work of local commerce.
And I also don’t think a convention (somewhere) every week is good business for the local professionals, or the over all profession ether, and for the same reasons.

FYI; Con-men take about $500,000.00 out of your local market every convention, without having any local responsibilities. Scratchers and part time professionals never take this much money out of a local market per year, let alone per event.
Gypsies and Con-men of all types are bad for our business, and our way of life. I understand your frustrations Mr J Beck, any time there is disrespectful intruders, they suck, and cause legitimate business people grief.
But you must not let your frustrations over whelm your common sense, we still need to be able to stay legitimate for our own survival. Don’t bring more attention to our selves than is actually needed. Fight the real problems.

Another FYI; I sell equipment to everyone that wants my equipment. is an equal opportunity Supplier, and proud of it. And we are not cheap. We are doing everything we can to help advance real true to the art professional tattoo artists into the future. If I followed ether of you two Dudes advice and refused to sell to people of less experience than my self, I wouldn’t be selling any thing to ether of you, or any other new skool tattooer for that matter.

And further more Mr. J Beck; Every single tattoo supply company in America sells equipment and supplies to every skill level tattooer every day, on a whim. I think it would be very good for the rest of the profession if you actually did what you said you would do, when you said you would not patronize any supplier that sold to scratchers, do what you said you would do, Mr J Beck and quit buying supplies from any of the known suppliers. That way you will have to develop your own line of equipment, or you will have to quit tattooing, which is what I think is most appropriate. And please, J Beck, stop spreading vicious proofless rumors about people spreading infection(s). You are killing us all slowly.

If ether Mr. Arnold or Mr. J. Beck really wants to limit the actual number, or the quality of scratchers in their neighborhood, they should be talking to all of the flash sellers, traveling gypsies, and other con-men infecting the profession over the past 20 plus years. Not the equipment and machine manufactures.

If it weren’t for all the Jack Rudy’s (pieces of flash) on the market, the tattooer down the street from you may not be able to teach themselves what a basic tattoo should look like, or how to do it. And there would be no need for a machine. When Jack Rudy (or anyone else) sells your competition down the street a jackrudy (piece of flash), he is giving your competition a cheap $3.00 lesson in fifteen minutes.

And three attempts later your competition is as good at doing a Jackrudy as Jack Rudy is. Jack Rudy is now your competition. Jack is a damn good tattooer, that is why it is so imperative he not become your close competition, it’s only good business sense.
If, like you say you’re really a 15+ year old tattooer, you should be able to see the grief caused by the jackrudy (piece of flash) sold to the new shop owner that isn’t even a tattooer, that just hired all the first year fucks with a convention purchased import machine. This Dude (any dude) now has enough jackrudys on the wall to compete with all of the established shops and artists that have developed the local area into a respectable area to be tattooed. Both of YOU might be either of these two groups of people. I don’t know.
It is all of the gypsies selling flash, and the self appointed leaders like your self, spuing bullshit, that are the real PROBLEMS in the profession. In the past, most of these problem people were “one and the same”, but, nowadays and with all the internet flash selling going on, there seems to be a separation forming of the people causing the professions grief. We’ll just have to wait and see, but it shouldn’t take to long.

Let me bring you up to date on the situation, with a few facts that I know you are not aware of;
Tattooers Jack Rudy and Gill Montie, and Bob Baxter former Editor of Skin & Ink Magazine held a -private – debate one day in late 1998, and nobody else from the profession was allowed to talk or participate.
Baxter then published an article in the January 1999 issue of Skin & Ink titled,- The Great Supplier Debate. The article was on the merits of selling tattoo equipment to the same type of people Mace Arnold and J Beck condemns.

Both Jack and Gill ( and a lot of their followers) was screaming out loud that scratchers were spreading all kinds of communicable diseases. And that the only way to stop the spread of Hep C and AIDs, was to blame the spread of disease on the selling of equipment. Same story different big mouth(s).

Bob Baxter had an opportunity to save the day and bring this bullshit to a head, and let the rest of the profession in on the problem, and the solution. But Bob was in bed with the screamers, and didn’t have the balls to break away from the click. He was to limp (weak) to do the right thing and support the professional artists. Even though he was very much aware of the grief he was letting happen, and in some cases was actually and knowingly contributing too.

Well, let me tell you what the results of all their screaming was. The local Health Departments all over the country heard what Jack and Gill and the others were saying. And because these two guys were supposed to be the highly respected leaders of the tattoo profession, the health department listened, intently. (You can bet they’re doing the same thing right now).

The Health Departments everywhere started rewriting the local health regulation trying to combat the scourge that Jack and Gill was saying was infecting the tattoo profession. Before Jack and Gill started spruing this bullshit, California did not even have regulations for tattooing. Not that regulations are a bad thing. But after the publication of the great supplier debate published by Skin & Ink, it didn’t take long before it became a Felony, that’s right, a Felony to tattoo in Los Angles County without a permit.
But, after the LA County Health Dept. was asked by the United Tattoo Artists Association to prove what was being said about the dangers of tattooing, the (felony) law was repelled after it became known that there was no (provable) transmission of Hepatitis C or AIDs known to have occurred in Los Angeles County by any tattooer or related event. But, initially the (felony) law was passed on the rumors and hearsay, published in various tattoo trade magazines, particularly in Skin and Inks great supplier debate.
The damage to the profession was done. From that point on every legitimate tattooer every where in the USA has had to deal with an increase in local regulations, and the reputation of the profession to police our selves has been lost for good. The future of the Respectable Profession of Tattooing is compromised every time someone says this type of stupid crap, especially if the person saying this shit, claims to be a Leader in a Professional Association like the Alliance of Professional Tattooers.

I have been aware of the APT since their inception, this type of irresponsible talk, is just another example of a Member of the APT who’s activity enforces my belief that this association (APT) should not be supported by any professional tattooer, young or old. And every tattoo artist whose health Department is revamping the regulation should beware that the APT can become involved in the rewriting of your regulations, even if you’re not aware.It happend to us in Reno.

I say, all true to the art professionals should boycott the up coming APT Convention on the grounds they do not have the best interest in the advancement of the ARTISTS in mind. The motive of the APT seems to be the empowerment of the Association and their Representatives, with a divide and conquer agenda to be the reason for their existence. Not the advancement of ether the Art of tattooing, or the art of Tattooing.

I say Mr. Mace Arnold and J Beck should rethink their position and correct it quickly. Otherwise I think we, the true to the art professionals, should prepare for another overhaul of our Health Regulation.

If these Dudes don’t retract their comments they should be banned from making public comments in all respectable trade magazines.

Please Boycott all APT conventions and help send a message that this kind of talk and rhetoric, and their attitude towards up coming tattooers and machine manufacturers is way out of line and unprofessional in every way.

Thanks for reading this commentary.
Kelly Miller
President – UTAA
Interesting foot notes;
And get this; All the time Jack and Gill and a lot of other gypsies were screaming about the selling of tattoo equipment, they were selling their snake oil (tattoo flash) to the same people they were crying about getting equipment. Who in the fuck sells a jackrudy (piece of flash) to anyone, and then doesn’t expect it to be used by someone to teach themselves how
to tattoo?
And Second; Are all these flash sellers so stupid that they don’t realize these flash buyers need a tattoo machine to do the design. Come on, these people aren’t that stupid, are they?

Another FYI; In the olden days before flash became commercial, flash was traded, or given away as a way to show respect to another tattoo artist. The exchange of artistic ideas was still very effective in helping spread the art around, all the while keeping your style private. It was also a natural way to limit who was able to get into the profession, and who was the respected artist, as the finest artist(s) of the time. Jack Rudy was that person at one time, but he blew it for every one, when he started selling his jackrudys (flash) at conventions.
In fact Jack Rudy has sold so much flash, we renamed “Tattoo Flash” after Jack, from this point
on a piece of common flash is to be known through the tattoo profession a “Jackrudy”, In his Honor, because We have also declared Jack
to be the King Gypsy. For now and ever more.

Raise the common standard of tattooing, Stop buying/selling flash, and the problem(s) solves them self.
Otherwise, learn to live with the problems the selling of flash has created.

About Kelly Miller

Tattooer - 30 years
This entry was posted in Convention Benefits, Convention Boycott, Supporting Local Tattooers. Bookmark the permalink.

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