Someone at my local daily newspaper was inspired by the mass-marketing of the Sailor Jerry and Ed Hardy designs to call a selection of the local tattoo artists and get their thoughts. I found the resulting article quite amusing!

Under the distinctly obscure headline <"TAKING BACK THE TAT?"> they portrayed a litany of grudges, with one of the local guys being quoted as "complaining about the mainstreaming of his lifelong art: tattoos."

He went on to say it "demeans the art by making it disposable" when it is placed on tshirts etc, and while claiming to be a "friend of Mr Hardy" he says "merchandising doesn't benefit tattoo artists or their customers."

Ah, but then there I am smiling and holding up various items, which have "meant different kinds of sales for Ms. Fish. An internet company (CafePress) allows customers to place her deisgns onto t-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, and mugs, and cell phone and laptop covers of their choice."

"Merchandising doesn't rob tattoos of their originality," Ms. Fish said: "The great majority of tattoos are a copy of one that already exists."

"There's room in today's business climate for both the art in tattoo shops and the products at department stores, insisted Ms. Sherin of Saks Fifth Avenue. "I don't think one takes away from the other."

One local said that "when big businesses do pay artists, they only give them pennies on the dollars that the corporations make."

But Ms. Fish noted that merchandising does, in fact, benefit tattoo artists. "Ed Hardy is making a bundle and deserves every penny of it."

Then the article predictably went on to discuss the overall popularity of tattoos, and one tattooist stated "I hope I'm not shooting myself in the foot. I'm not saying people should stop getting tattoos, but I think it would be nice not to see (tattoos) everywhere."

Well THAT guy isn't looking to boost business!

Another tattooer said "Eventually tattoos will lose their mainstream charm and go back to their rightful status as art made by and worn by those who truly care about it.... It's going to go back no matter what. They'll get hot during their 15 minutes of fame, then it'll go back into the underground subculture."

Well, speaking as someone who has been tattooing since 1984 I say I am entirely pleased that so many people now feel the freedom to acquire tattoo art and express themselves with permanent epidermal embellishment. And I am delighted that I can sell my designs at a distance to people who cannot come to Santa Barbara to have me install a tattoo. Whether that means they buy my custom tattoo flash designs to have someone local install them, or a tshirt to express their enthusiasm for Celtic art.

I am thrilled that the power of the internet allows me to market my designs in so many ways. I do not see myself as limited by the fact the the primary way I make art is through the craft of tattooing. Selling my art in other ways is great! 

You can find this, my hometown daily news paper, online at: