Guest Blog: Tattoo Coupons – No Big Deal

January 26th, 2012 by Guest Blogger -


Editor’s Note: Earlier we posted a guest blog from Joe Capobianco (Tattoo Coupons: Bad for Business). I encourage you to read both posts before firing off on anyone. I encourage you to read both posts before firing off  in the comments.


The current Republican primary has unraveled into hyperbolic absurdity, and as an outsider (a non-Republican), it is an amusing disaster to watch. Each statement a candidate makes is taken by his rivals and twisted so far out of context that its original meaning is completely lost before being used against him in stump speeches and misquoted in ads on TV. Although unfair and dishonest, it is a brutal election process with very high stakes. It’s not hard to see how respectable politicians can become childish and petty so quickly.

When similar name-calling and shit-talking eats away at your own community, though, it is far from entertaining. Every time something new is unveiled in the tattoo industry, there’s a thousand over-the-top opinions and judgements unleashed immediately. While you can find honest debate over relevant industry issues (i.e. licensing, safety, and equipment), it tends to be drowned out by the alarmist babble concerning the more insignificant happenings that don’t have a real effect on anything–or anyone.

The newest non-issue incurring the wrath of those who need to be heard is the offering of coupons for tattoo work on group discount websites like Groupon. These sites are a little too “thrifty suburban housewife” for me, but I hardly believe that the partnering of these sites with tattoo shops is going to destroy the tattoo industry as we know it. In fact, other shops using coupons probably won’t have any impact on established custom tattoo shops with existing clientele.

Tattoo customers have various ways of finding the type of artist or shop that best suits their purposes. Some people want a tattoo of something simple ASAP, and a normal street shop works fine for them. On the other side of the spectrum, a serious tattoo collector will want a specific artist’s work, and are willing to wait a year or more to get an appointment.

Between these two sides fall the rest of the tattoo shops, which range widely in quality, price, cleanliness and experience. In order to differentiate themselves from each other, shops use whatever marketing techniques are available to them. For the shops that don’t offer especially unique skills or styles that are competing with many other shops for the mid-grade type of customer (who might not know much about the tattoo industry) but does want a clean, friendly environment, coupons seem like an effective strategy.

The clients that search out specific artists and styles are looking for a higher quality of tattooing. They aren’t shopping based on price, they are educated about the tattoo industry and know what they are looking for. They often get larger pieces, have to travel to their artist and sometimes wait months (or longer) for appointments. None of these clients would be swayed by the coupons offered by local, unremarkable shops.

Mitt Romney never slammed Jon Huntsman or Rick Perry (even when they were twisting his words about wanting choices in his health care plan by repeating his “I like to fire people…” quote)… because he didn’t have to. The Perry campaign spent their time turning that unfairly edited quote into a ringtone for download on his website (and they did), but it wasn’t going to change the minds of Romney’s supporters. They knew the truth, and they also knew that neither Perry or Huntsman were a threat. They’ve both since dropped out of the race, after all. Mitt Romney has focused on running the best campaign he can, with little thought to the desperate moves taken by harmless opponents.

Tattooing will never be an industry without gritty parts and undesirable qualities. It certainly wasn’t founded on high principles of artistic merit, but has come a long way in a short amount of time. The best approach to having a more educated public is to promote the highest caliber of artists and shops through avenues such as TattooSnob and Tattoo Now, and to encourage all the positive efforts being made in the industry. This will more effectively contribute to the betterment of the tattoo community than the very public and negative infighting, especially concerning issues that have no real bearing on established artists.



–Guest blog by Shawn Hebrank

**** We’re looking for quality guest blogs from tattooers & enthusiasts–shoot us an email.

Guest Blog: Tattoo Coupons – Bad For Business

January 26th, 2012 by Guest Blogger -


Editor’s Note: We have another guest blog today from Shawn Hebrank (Tattoo Coupons – No Big Deal) to explore the other side of things. I encourage you to read both posts before firing off  in the comments.


First, a bit of background: Last month Tattoo Snob reposted an ad for a tattoo shop/artist. He was advertising a coupon for a two hour tattoo session for $99 – a great bargain… according to him.

Now, I know that times have been a bit tight for everyone out there and tattooing seems to have screamed into the mainstream of life, but Hell, a freaking coupon?! What have we come to?!?! Are we going to start giving “point incentives” to clients?

Where I come from that’s an understanding between tattooer and client. It’s usually unspoken and understood – not something that needs to be advertised like a sale at Wal*mart.

Tattoo Snob asked me to write this while I was in Miami promoting Nichole East’s “Quick & Painful” art show. The same show that we were doing $40 flash tattoos. The idea of cheap promotional tattoos has always been around and seemed to have its place. You’ve got the Friday the 13th special, Halloween, grand openings, and such. It saddens me a bit that because there are so many shops today, and so many tattooists taking part in all of these speciality events, that clients only want to get tattooed at these events now. It also seems so many tattooists today are so desperate to get folks in the chair that they’re literally bringing the rest of us down. I have many friends the world over who suffer from some shit heel scratcher shop up the road doing cheap ass tattoos just to get the business, or worse- tattoos in trade.

Bring the douche a case of beer, and he’ll sleeve ya, or some such shit. We’ve all heard the stories.

But I digress. Where is all this cut throat BS getting us as a business? Nowhere, thats where. It’s my belief that the client is being taught that not only is it possible to get a cheap tattoo, but that it should be common practice for a client to price shop, and not artist shop. And like I’ve said many time in the past with the problems and issues in our trade, “It’s our own friggin fault”.

Too many young tattooers, too many bullshit tattoo shops, too many individuals brought into this trade with no one there to tell them, “NO, you don’t do that!” It’ll just hurt all of us in the future. I’m very passionate about this, and many other issues in our trade, mainly because while I may not get hurt by some of this BS I have many talented friends whose businesses are suffering greatly from the ignorance of all of us.

I know that everyone wants too work and make a buck. I realize that this is just one, of many issues amongst us as a trade. But F%#K there is really just so much information out there on the web to inform these knuckle heads of the rights and wrongs of how to do business. Even when common sense seems to falter, just turn on your freaking computer!

Hell this is just my opinion, I’m certain you all have your own…


–Guest blog by Joe Capobianco

**** We’re looking for quality guest blogs from tattooers & enthusiasts–shoot us an email.

Guest Blog: Shawn Porter’s Tattoo Movies – AMJAM 1991

January 19th, 2012 by Guest Blogger -


The last year has seen a pushback within the tattoo community; with tattoo artists uploading their own tattoo videos to the internet as an antidote to cable network programmed tattoo “reality shows” that are anything but real.

But you know the old saying- “there’s nothing new under the sun”. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s a number of tattooists took the bull by the horns and produced their own tattoo films. Royboy, Crazy Ace, tattoo fan Michael O. Stearns- folks who documented tattooing for a niche market of worldwide devotees who at the time had no outlet for tattoo programming.

I’ve been collecting these tapes (have you held a VHS tape lately? They’re comically huge) since they originally came out and, fearing that these glimpses of our history may end up forgotten, digitizing them for my ‘Occult Vibrations’ blog. The idea is that if folks all over the world have access to them, they can never disappear.

Instead of talking about the specific tape (dude… you should see the outtakes. Debra dancing butt naked in a snow cemetery, rolling around naked with tigers and a baby… so fucking weird) I figured a little blurb about where the video came from would be more fitting.

–Guest post by Shawn Porter of Occult Vibrations

We’re looking for quality guest blogs from tattooers & enthusiasts–shoot us an email.

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Ink Master premieres tonight

January 17th, 2012 by Kevin -


I really had high hopes for Spike TV’s Ink Master when I first heard about it. A tattoo reality show centered around competition made me think it would be something akin to Chopped on Food Network. A tattoo version of Chopped would be a good thing, right? Chopped is pretty well-made and fairly clever. As a viewer, I think the most interesting part is the feedback contestants receive from the judges once the challenges are over.

I thought Spike TV had enough experience with reality programming to do this right–they worked with the UFC  to create ‘The Ultimate Fighter‘ show. While Ultimate Fighter gave interpersonal drama way too much airtime, it was still better than the average reality TV trainwreck.

Then I heard Dave Navarro was involved with Ink Masters, and I was suspicious. I get it: they picked a recognizable, douchey ex-rockstar with tattoos to appeal to the average joe. (Personally, I would have gone with Benji Madden–but that’s just me.)

Nevarro aside, they did enlist Chris Nunez and Oliver Peck as judges, and the list of the tattoo artists/contestants was fairly impressive. With that many talented artists involved with the show, I still held onto the hope that this could really be a show the tattoo industry and community would be proud of.

The promo clips are starting to pop up online, and I have to say, I’m a little concerned. Instead of following the Chopped model like I’d hoped, this looks like typical bad reality programming… What an awful feeling. (Watch the clip below to see what I’m talking about.)

Even after seeing clips like these, I hope there’s going to be some good that comes out of this show. Like I mentioned above, there’s a number of really talented artists involved. Maybe it can shine the light on some other artists, as well as shops that really deserve the attention? Better yet, I’ve heard that the artists talk openly about some important tattoo common-sense subjects, like why you should tattooed in a shop instead of someone’s kitchen.

I realize I’m grasping at straws, here. I just don’t want to believe every episode is going to be like the clip below. I can’t say I’m confident Spike TV will air the portions of the show that would actually benefit the general public, but I could be wrong.

At this point, I don’t know what to expect of a full episode… but I guess we’ll find out tonight at 10pm.

Stop hating

January 9th, 2012 by Julene Huffman -


There’s a lot of negativity regarding any number of tattooing styles and subject matter readily available online. As Den Henk said, “This is an alternative, underground subculture, and it’s a shame to see the same things that tear the mainstream world apart having any foothold.” What else does he have to say on the subject? Well…

I see juvenile, close minded attitudes in tattooing. And, as in music, it’s mostly the younger crowd. You show a veteran who does traditional [tattoos] a good tattoo by a realistic artist, and he’ll go, “Damn!” usually followed by “I wish I could do that!” I’ve seen it happen so many times I’ve lost count. You show the exact same tattoo to a traditional artist in their mid-20s, and often their response is a sneer, and they start picking it apart, “It doesn’t look like a tattoo… It won’t last… You’re just a frustrated painter.”

The same is true in reverse. I’ve heard realistic artists criticize an old-school tattoos with their standard repertoire of insults, “My five-year-old could draw that… They’re just copying Sailor Jerry… They are only doing that because they can’t draw something more complex.” And so on.

Now, granted, a little bit of both sides critiques are on the money. But far more often, it’s pettiness. That same pettiness that makes a 16-year-old, who suddenly “hates everything that isn’t punk rock” talk down about something that is well done, just not in the particular genre he chooses to identify with.

The rest of Dan Henk’s post on tattoo-related hating is available on the Tattoo Artist Magazine blog. I think he was right on the money with this post, by the way.

Still pissed about TLC’s Tattoo School?

July 11th, 2011 by Julene Huffman -


I was going to write a whole post about why I’m amazed at how pissed everyone is over TLC’s newest show, Tattoo School, but I don’t know if that’s even necessary. Sure, there’s plenty of reasons to be pissed off, especially if you’re a tattooer. Let’s all just take a deep breath and look at all the angles before we all go having a coronary:

The more we talk about it, the more people see it. While I’ve seen people saying “thanks for giving them all the free advertising they need”… while I see what you’re saying, I don’t think an ostrich with it’s head in the sand type of approach is going to do anyone any favors.

Last I counted there were three different groups/fan pages on Facebook regarding the boycotting of TLC/the show. Each of these groups has at least 5,000 members – one has damn near 10,000. Between that and the online petitions I’ve seen linked left and right, I’m curious why people are breaking off into smaller groups. If we’re all so determined to do something, it makes far more sense for us all to work together toward the common goal.

That being said, I don’t think banning or boycotting are feasible demands. I do think we should be reaching out to TLC in an effort to make it known that what they’re doing by broadcasting this show sucks–but let’s take a step back: the 20,000 people or so that are making this a hot topic on the internet are still a small portion of the number of people TLC is hoping will tune in for the show’s premiere. And honestly, if you’re reading this site (or any other along similar lines) you are not part of TLC’s target demographic for this particular piece. In short: they’ve already filmed, edited and set an air date for the show. Nobody is going to keep that episode from showing; but we should be gearing up for damage control, on chance that the show lasts more than a few episodes.

This isn’t the first time the issue of tattoo schools has been raised, either. Like this post from December: Thoughts On Tattoo Schools by Tim Pangburn. Hopefully, we can benefit from this situation by forcing us to be aware of changes people are trying to tattooing by skipping the steps you’d think would be considered mandatory to enter into the tattooing industry. Personally, I don’t want anything to do with someone that didn’t have to suffer (yeah, I went there: SUFFER) through a legit apprenticeship. Regardless of Lisa’s skill as a tattooer–and I’m using that term really loosely right now–I can think of plenty of amazing tattooers that apprenticed under shitty artists. But they apprenticed; they didn’t spend a couple thousand dollars for a two week crash course before being unleashed with a certificate as proof of their ability to show up to class on time. I don’t want to believe anyone would approach tattooing the same way they would a CPR course.

As an aside, can we stop with the posting of Lisa Fasulo’s contact information? She’s already filmed the show – what is harassment going to do at this point aside from cause headaches? I do not support her or what she’s doing, but this is the type of situation where taking the high road is going to allow us to do the most good, for ourselves as well as the industry we’re trying to defend.

And now, allow me to inject a some humor into the situation:

Rebel Ink defines the “New Inked American Family”

March 8th, 2011 by Kevin -


Rebel Ink published a copy of their April cover, and it’s stirring up some controversy. Featured on the cover is Michelle “Bombshell” McGee and Michael Lohan as the “Tattooed American Family.”

Did that sentence make anyone else sick to their stomach? Yeah…

I’m having a hard time understanding why Rebel Ink insists on idolizing these two. It’s not like Michael Lohan or Michelle McGee are known for their good deeds, their contribution to the tattoo industry, or their inspirational messages to the kids. Instead both are known for despicable behavior, and generally considered embarrassments to everyone they’re associated with.

I’m confident if you’re still reading this, you don’t plan to buy this magazine. I’m willing to bet you’ve never purchased an issue of Rebel Ink, nor really thought twice about it. If you see it however, don’t be afraid to pick it up. I encourage you to form your own opinion, and at least read the piece about Royal Street Tattoo. Those guys are a tattooed family we can be proud of.