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What is Tattooing?

How do we explain the tattoo life?  Sometimes it feels like arguing over the genre of your favorite band. It has changed faces so many times in the last few decades. It even reveals itself differently to people.  It has grown beyond a counterculture movement.

As the price of admission lowers, the more people branding a tattoo gets acceptable. The general public is no longer afraid of the stigmas for getting permanently marked. For better or worse, tattooing is no longer “ours”.

Entering my third decade into this craft we call tattooing; I have witnessed a flock of mainstream types slowly getting deeper into the world of body modification.  It started in the 90’s when NBA players and popular musicians appeared on television with new images on their bodies.  Having a famous person wearing a tattoo made it acceptable for fans to imitate them.

I did an interview in the late nineties and I was asked what I was going to do when tattooing became unpopular again.  My answer was simple.  I would go back to tattooing my friends.  That was the reason liked tattooing in the first place, it was a rite of passage.  Back then, getting a tattoo showed your commitment to the group.  It bonded you to the beliefs and ideologies shared by the counterculture life.  The act of getting tattooed was more important than the image.  It was also a big ‘fuck you’ to those that had pushed against us: the mainstream.

I am surprised that tattooing became popular and stayed relevant in our culture.  With this popularity I do not have to explain why I am tattooed or what I do for money.  It used to be difficult interacting with the normal people when I needed a car loan or to rent an apartment.  Today people don’t bat an eye at what now has become my career.

After realizing the popularity of tattooing is here to stay, I needed to make a choice.  I no longer wanted to tattoo the mainstream’s request for small souvenirs.  Once the tattoo is done, you rarely see them again. There is no bond between me and the customer.  I want to tattoo my friends.  People who I know and build relationships with. Clients that are as committed to getting tattooed as the tattoo is to them.

That is why I work by appointment.  To build a community of good people who are like minded and bonded through the simple act of receiving a tattoo for life.  The bond among friends is why I love tattooing.

 

Matt Hodel

www.matthodel.design

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