For those of you that missed Kevin’s post, NY Ink is conducting a casting call. While we’ve tried to keep the amount of ripping on reality tattoo TV (think LA Ink, Miami Ink, etc.) around here to a minimum, it’s hard not to get carried away. Knocking on tattoo-based TV programming is both easy and seemingly fair, given the endless number of reasons anyone can supply about how these shows are “ruining” the modern tattoo scene. The problem is this: if you think about it the tattoo industry as a whole has, and stands to continue to, gain something from appearing in these kinds of shows.
The real damage done by putting tattoo shops on TV has less to do with a beloved blue collar art form receiving mainstream exposure and a lot more to do with types of people cast for the shows. Certain personality types make everyone involved with these businesses look like their lives are a constant shit-show, but they also make for good ratings and a dedicated viewership. While the necessary evil of these cast members needs no further explanation, there isn’t much posted online in the way of the positive effects these shows have had on the industry.
Think about it: how much money has been funneled into tattooing since Kat became the face of reality tattoo TV? Given we’re in the midst of a recession in the US, I find it interesting something most of us would classify as ‘luxury spending’ continues, frequently if Facebook’s photo album notifications are to be believed. I’m not saying the going hasn’t gotten tough for everyone, but I suspect without these shows tattooers would be feeling the sting quite a bit more than they have been. The increasingly popularity and (dare I say it?) rise of social acceptance of tattoos–only in part because of these shows–has to feed into what’s keeping shops busy.
I contacted Michelle Myles from Dare Devil & Fun City tattoo for her opinion. Hearing from someone within the industry actively trying to be involved in the popularized media portrayal of tattooing struck me as something worth mention.
Her full response can be read at the shop’s blog (Devil City Press) but here are some highlights for you to consider:
“I don’t know that we’ve [tattooers] gained anything from all the media exposure. In fact if anything we’ve been robbed of a community we hold dear.”
“My response to the casting call? Sign me up. I don’t really think I’m someone they would pick. I don’t drink, I’m in a stable relationship, I run a solid shop, I’m not very emotional and I’m not a huge jerk who yells at people. There’s two ways to respond to change. You can be bitter and mourn for what once was. Or you can step up and try to be a part of the change. We can’t control how they portray us but you can control how you portray yourself.”
I don’t think I could have put it better myself. The question is, do the rest of you think it’s possible for this next round of reality programming to portray the industry as a whole in a better light?