A couple of weeks ago while at the National Tattoo Association Convention, a friend of mine asked “What ever happened to bring the tattoo industry to this stage of self destruction”. The question really got me to thinking.
I’m not sure if we can put an exact date on it, but it started back in the 60’s and 70’s. This is the approximate time line as best as I can remember it.
In the late 60’s Janise Joplin got tattooed, used them as part of her image and it made headlines all over the world. A lot of young ladies decided that the tattoos where great and started copying her tattoos.
In the early 70’s Easyriders magazine came out featuring bikers, biker ladies and most stuff Harley Davidson. They started the Easyriders Rodeo and shortly there-after started featuring biker tattoos. The feature became so popular that in the mid to late 80’s they spun off a new magazine called Tattoo Magazine. At this time, it came out quarterly.
Soon after Tattoo magazine, they where followed by Tattoo Review, International Tattoo and Skin & Ink magazines. In 1979 the first National Tattoo Association Tattoo Convention took place. And soon to follow, other tattoo conventions as well. This gave the magazines all they needed to fill the pages. Articles about tattoo artists, reports on the tattoo conventions and of course, tons of pictures of tattoos, people getting tattooed and tattooed people just hanging out.
The tattoo industry was now in the spotlight.
Meanwhile, my understanding is that Huck Spaulding, part owner of Spaulding & Rogers wanted to start selling equipment on the open market but his partner Paul Rogers would not allow it. Paul Rogers passed away in 1990 and right after that, Huck Spaulding started advertising on the back cover of the tattoo magazines. Other people in the tattoo industry started making equipment and selling it at the conventions, advertising in the tattoo magazines and soon prices started to drop.
Now came the thermograph machine to replace acetate stencils. Shortly after came pre-made needles.
Once the tattoo equipment became available to the general public, it was the beginning of the end. Like the downfall of Rome, it started slowly. People started tattooing out of there houses. Tattoo artists started making equipment and machines. The internet came along and with it e-bay. The price wars started and now even 10 year olds can afford to by tattoo machines.
And that my friends is my opinion of what has caused the tattoo industry to fall apart.