When I started tattooing, anyone I saw with large, visible work was very nearly guaranteed to be someone who was in my tribe. I don’t mean tribe in the sense that we shared every opinion, but that we shared the expectation of being considered somewhat beyond the margins of the common, outside the mainstream, someone who was not acceptable in mixed company. We were subversive. I could look at someone, see their work, and know they were on my side of that equation.
Because of this, I felt a connection to everyone I worked on. I could open up to them, exchange ideas and energy with them, and really bond. We both knew, after all, what it was like to be outcast, to be strange, to be the “Other”.
That has changed. Now, at work, I block energy. I try to keep things light, and a bit distant. I only can connect like this after I have worked on someone a few times and gotten to know them. There are exceptions, of course. But the exceptions are indeed exceptional.
I don’t think that my own approach to my work can change this. I can educate people about getting better tattoos, but the kind of life experience and wisdom that a tattoo used to signify is NOT something that can be bought, or sold.
You have to earn it in your own life, with your own bitter tears. Nobody can give it to you in a few hours for a few hundred dollars. Not even me.
I don’t advertise myself as a “shaman” or healer of any kind. I am aware that at times I am performing healing work, that for some, the process itself is ritual and meaningful. Tattoos are incredibly meaningful and important- but they’re not necessary. I don’t think I could live up to the responsibility implied by the word “healer”. I’m not an actual priestess. But I try very hard to let that energy exist in my work when I feel that it’s possible.
It’s just possible a lot less often these days.
I think this shift in expectations, from then til now, has made me more withdrawn, more reclusive. I know that I am harder to reach for tattoos now than I ever have been before. That the process of getting me to tattoo you is more difficult, more drawn-out. That I no longer am in a hurry.
I think it is a good thing. I think I do better at the tattoos that I make now, than I have before. And I think it makes me more able to connect with my clients than I had been recently.
Just rambling. xox