So am not a ‘millionaire’ …….., yet, 🙂
As was indicated by the weekly paper called The Nairobian. The sub-title reads ‘With only sh 30,000 as start-up capital young artist has created a million worth empire that draws even Nairobi celebrities’
now some of that is true some of it isn’t ( I guess that is probably what helps them sell volumes, I don’t know. ) one thing’s for sure, I love to tattoo and honestly the little bit of fame I may have now plus the money is not why I got into it. That’s just what follows when people see good work, they will love it and either wanna own a piece of it or associate with it.
Now the article may have been spot-on on some of the details about my journey and how I have gotten to where I am right now, but they left out a really important chunk of the story……..,okay, well I decided to not share it out then. Hehehe.
Which brings me to what I wanna talk about, so before I got a chance to learn what it means to actually do a tattoo, be a tattoo artist and what entails a good tattoo, I was doing them in my mom’s living room? So I was what is commonly referred to in the tattoo world as a ‘SCRATCHER’.
So a ‘scratcher’ is basically someone who taught him/herself the art of tattooing without the benefit of an apprenticeship under a professional artist. An inexperienced, untalented, unclean and untrained tattooer according to the ‘Urban Dictionary’. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t dirty or nothing, I adhered to strict hygienic procedures I had fished off the net and never re-used needles. So why am I telling you this? Why reveal such details that most would probably hear and go like ‘dude, keep that vibe to yourself yo!’ well it’s because I want to talk about scratchers from a perspective of someone who used to be one.
The ‘tattoo world’ regards scratchers as the filth of everything not liked about tattoos, the scum of the earth! (Sorry for being too harsh) we have a fair share of scratchers here on this side of the Sahara (so been meaning to use that) and they are no different from the scratchers in the west. Upon further scrutiny though, it kinda becomes clear that they are not that much alike either. How you ask? Well al tell you. Here in Kenya specifically, there are not that many excellent tattoo artists to start with. There are even fewer masters as compared to the developed countries and those guys are the ones who are looked up to to give us the next generation of tattoo artists by some form of strict mentorship programs. But that is not happening. Artists are hungry to learn and be awesome tattooers but the few masters who can mentor them are either
- Not willing to take any apprentices
- Charging heftily for a mentorship program
But am not saying it’s all them, coz if it was, then ad still be a scratcher doing sub-standard tattoos but it’s quite obvious that Gathu my mentor did an excellent job in shaping my tattooing into what it is today. Still, he is just but one man and cannot mentor 6-7 guys at a time otherwise they’ll all be half baked. So with this scenario of supply not meeting demand, you get more scratchers flooding the market than the guys who can actually do a decent/good tattoo(s). You cannot however say it’s entirely the mentor’s fault, coz some of the people who want to get into tattooing are getting into it for all the wrong reasons. You’re thinking that once you become a tattoo artist BOOM! You’ll be making lots of cash and will be super famous and that a mentorship is only gonna be a waste of time with you being your mentor’s Bitch. So you dive in, scratch afew people make some quick bucks from some nasty Ass tattoos you’ve done and then you think you’re the shit. Well am here to tell you that that was me for a brief period before I decided to swallow my pride, humble myself and go through the proper channels to becoming a good tattoo artist.
So yes being an apprentice will require you to be patient and yes it may take years before your mentor is satisfied that you’re actually able to do a tattoo and do it perfectly and still even after all that, it may be awhile before serious clients who want good quality tattoos come to you. However if you’re truly passionate about becoming a tattoo artist, then all these things really won’t matter because you’ll be dedicated, driven and highly motivated and the whole world will see that in your work……,eventually. 🙂
Dedicated to the Scratcher.