Last week MTV announced a brand new tattoo TV show.
Just Tattoo of Us will see people get particular tattoos that have been chosen by a friend or family member. The twist – they won’t get to see their tattoo until it’s already been permanently marked on their body.
I recall being contacted by the programme’s production team early on in the process as they were wanting to reach both tattoo artists and potential bodies. I was (and still am) wary of the moral (and lawful) implications of performing a permanent procedure of this kind without the individual’s prior consent to the design.
I’m sure their legal team have been busy.
Let’s sidetrack for a moment.
Yesterday I attended a tattoo laser removal workshop up in Manchester, ran by a company called Cynosure. I gave a talk to laser professionals about the UK’s vibrant tattoo scene and we explored current motivations for tattoo regret and subsequent removal.
Just a few minutes into the day I was overwhelmed by the sudden realisation of how enormous the removal industry was. As society’s desire to get tattooed has dramatically increased over the last decade, so has the percentage of those who have feelings of regret towards the images on their skin.
There’s much more for me to say about the current state of the laser removal industry. Sadly, like everything else when it comes to tattooing (tattooers, products, conventions, etc.), too many people and companies want to make a quick buck and not everyone is doing it ‘correctly’. The amount of people left with permanent scarring from laser treatments that haven’t been carried out ‘properly’ (or with the best technology and machinery) is staggering.
I’ll be telling you a bit more about that at a later date. For now, back to tattoo TV shows.
1. Just Tattoo of Us
Considering my recent laser removal learnings, I couldn’t help but wonder – do we need another TV show that encourages tattoo regret? Would Just Tattoo of Us irresponsibly intend to create tattoos on human beings that the wearers will no doubt want to remove in years to come?
“They don’t get to see the tattoos until they are on their bodies,” TV personality and show presenter Charlotte Crosby explains in a recent video, “I’ll be here as a shoulder to cry on.” The show’s video marketing so far suggests that the (metaphorically or perhaps physically) ‘blind-folded’ wearer isn’t always going to be happy with the tattoo that is chosen for them.
Below: Vlogger Treacle Tatts chats tattoo TV shows in 2017 on her YouTube channel…
Great news for ratings, no doubt. Great news for laser clinics. But maybe not so great news for the current state of the tattoo industry in which we desperately need better education, guidance, information and regulation. For this reason, there continues to be an industry backlash towards most of the tattoo stories we see on our screens.
I learnt yesterday that the advancements in laser removal are absolutely amazing. We’re very lucky to have companies that have made these technological discoveries and I have no judgement towards any individual that wants to remove a tattoo. I have two cover-up tattoos myself. SHIT HAPPENS. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we should actively encourage it.
My predictions could be incorrect. Perhaps the tattoos that are going to be created onscreen will be met with great levels of satisfaction and appreciation from their wearers.
The artwork being shared on the Just Tattoo of Us Instagram account (like the above) appears to be of a really high quality, so I’m keen to learn which tattooists are involved with the show. We’ll be able to reflect more once the programme actually airs in April.
2. E4’s Tattoo Artist of the Year
Also hitting the media world this year is a brand new show from E4. Following earlier media and industry criticism of their show Tattoo Fixers, they’re bringing something fresh to our screens in 2017.
What we do know so far has been released on the social media accounts of the programme’s two main presenters and judges – Jay Hutton (from Tattoo Fixers) and internationally-renowned tattooist Rose Hardy.
“I am pleased to announce that myself and the awesome Rose Hardy have a brand new tattoo show coming to E4 very soon!” Jay said, on his Instagram.
“You guys will see professional tattoo artists from across the country compete in different challenges designed to push them to their tattooing limits and test the range of their tattooing skills. Judging their creative eye, ingenuity and talent will be myself and Rose.”
“The tattoo artists competing will take each other on in a series of tasks, designed to test their tattooing ability. Each episode consists of two different challenge briefs; the first based around a theme; the second around a style of tattooing – it could be Japanese, traditional, realism, surrealism or watercolour.”
“Each week, an artist will be eliminated as the competition heats up until only one remains and is crowned and given the esteemed title of ‘Tattoo Artist of the Year’.”
Our followers may know a little bit about this programme already as I was involved in very early discussions. I don’t know how the final show has shaped-up or who else is now involved.
I am dying to know more! We can report back once details are released on social media, no doubt.
3. Needles & Pins
Tattooing is a rich tapestry of art, history and meaning. As tattoo-enthusiasts, we believe that documenting a trivial, alcohol-induced penis tattoo just doesn’t quite do our sacred culture justice. Our ink is worth much more than the shocking ‘LOLZ’ that some of these television shows represent. We’ve been campaigning for an exploration of tattoo art that is true to the variety and passion of our industry.
Youth media company VICELAND seem to have listened to our prayers. Their new show Needles & Pins, hosted by tattoo artist Grace Neutral, airs this week and aims to document tattooing across the world.
From Los Angeles to Las Vegas, New Zealand, Japan and the UK, viewers will meet artists and individuals truly pushing the boundaries of tattoo art. A hugely positive step for the way in which tattooing has been previously represented on television, I’m going to enjoy watching this more ‘serious’ documentary-style approach.
Grace’s attitudes encourage and celebrate everything we love about modifying our bodies – the true beauty and interesting history found within tattooing. Without the shock tactics and competitions, it’s a thrilling enough culture in its own right. VICELAND have embraced this.
I sadly don’t have Sky so will miss the first episode. I’ll be off to my mum’s house next week to catch-up (thanks for taping them, mum!)
So, there you have it. Three new shows, three very different styles. I was originally going to end this blog by asking whether 2017 will be the peak year for tattoo TV programmes.
I have a feeling this is just the beginning.
Words: Beccy Rimmer
Photos: Various: MTV, VICELAND, Instagram, E4