TAP IN, TAP OUT

I always knew that there would come a day to shut down TAP for good. Now that day has come. Perhaps I didn’t predict that the end would look like this though. But that’s life, everything is not predictable. Trust me people, these last couple of days has been an emotional roller coaster, and I like to stop the ride now and get out.

I’m gonna try my best to divide what I write into: Things I regret, and things I don’t regret. I apologise in advance for any bad spelling or grammar.

Not everyone, but a lot of you perhaps understand what has made me come to this conclusion. It’s because of the article I wrote about the seven artists who did a simultaneous tattoo collaboration on a guy at the London convention.

I regret the way that wrote the article in affection, and how I let my frustration color my words in a cynical, condescending and unnecessarily negative way. I regret that I wrote the text in such a way that I made a group’s decision and actions be interpreted as I was attacking them as individuals. That was never my intention. I also understand in retrospect, and trying to put myself in these artists positions, that I would probably also react in a similar way. I regret that I made that customer out to be such a bad guy for wanting to experience this multi collaboration. What I wrote was also out of frustration for what I was looking at when I saw that video.

I regret that I made the connection with these artists as the “Rat pack tattoo” and the original entertainment group “The Rat pack”. Even though I thought it was a fitting comparison at the time, I can now realize that I never needed to make it at all in order to express what my purpose of the article was in the first place.

I have talked to a lot of people in the industry the last days, many of them I consider good friends that has been with me a long time. Some of them were never added as TAP artists either. And even though most of them agree with my initial purpose of the article and that they even added other aspects to how they think that it was a bad idea to do that kind of collaboration. Many of them knew or had met these rat pack artists, and how they expressed how good and kind people they are. I never even questioned that fact, I’m certain that everyone of them are amazing people and artists. Once again, it was never about them as individuals, it was the collective decision to spread the video in Social media that bothered me. So if anyone of these artists now hate me for this article, I can accept that even if I get sad, because I’m not a bad person either. I’m just an ordinary guy with strong beliefs. But each and everyone of these artists should understand that it was my reflection of how promotion and social media spreading went just a little bit too far, and how the effect could harm the hardworking tattoo industry by distorting the image of how tattoos are being done.

I know that tattoo collaborations has been done for a very long time, and that tattoo conventions push the boundaries in order to stand out and attract visitors and artists. What I don’t regret is my opinion of how I think this video is spreading a distorted message to the rest of the world. The reach of Social media posts that goes viral is unprecedented, and noone can really predict how this affects the mass. The days when you can compare paper magazines to social media is long gone. You know it, and I know it.

For six, almost seven years I have managed TAP, not for money or fame, or anything even remotely close to the things I see some people do. Even though I can understand how many see the opportunity to leech from a growing industry. This was never my purpose. I have had one advert position on the TAP page before and tried to sell a few t-shirts. The advert was only a zero sum thing in order to pay the webhotel and domain. The t-shirts never really sold, and it was just a way for me to express my own aesthetic needs. I have struggled with TAP simply because I love tattoos, and tattoo art. Along the way I have gotten to know a few artists and people who I have promoted, and they have thanked me by giving me either a free tattoo or a very good price on it. Maybe they thought that it was their way of thanking me for my work. So I am deeply thankful for their gestures.

I have fought all these years by writing and saying the uncomfortable things. Things that different artists have expressed to me in private discussion, but that they don’t want to put out in public because of their fear of any negative after effects. I don’t regret for a second that I have written these things, no matter if it was about, neo-nazis, copy cats, TV-shows, bad healing, overpriced tattoos etc, etc. Pretty much everyone of these topics that I wrote were based on discussions with artists, collectors and other people that has come into the tattoo industry for some reason. I was just a guy with a will to do some good in an industry that expressed a need for someone or something to make people understand that many things are going in the wrong direction. I don’t regret taking their side and trying to lift a few eyebrows with my badly spelled swenglish.

Here’s the main reason for me shutting down TAP: When I see how much influence the famous artists have in the industry I get worried. Not just because they have a huge amount of followers, but what happens when they decide to spread something in order to make a statement to everyone.
The thing that happened when I wrote this article was that I saw how different artists wrote comments on my feed backing me up and supporting me and my concerns. But when the artists in the rat pack started to write back, which I fully understand and predicted. The artists that at first gave me the support, one by one dropped off…deleting their comments and unliking the posts. When I saw this happen I was a bit confused at first, but I understood that it would keep on happening. Then after a while a lot of artists, and other people as well started to send me PMs to apologize to me for feeling forced to take back their comments and likes etc. Most of them made their point and I explained to them that I understand their side of all of this. When a bunch of these people had sent me emails and PMs I saw a pattern and I understood that this is a lot of power in motion, and it made me very sad.

The drop that made the glass spill over was when I got an email from a very renowned tattoo artist with 20+ years experience. He is not even a TAP artist, we’ve been in contact back and forth during a couple of years and we have share a few thoughts and ideas. This is what he wrote:

Hey bro!

It’s been awhile since we talked, I’ve been busy. You know how it is. 🙂

I read your article, and I think your point is valid. You know I’ve been in this business a long time now, almost lost count of the years. Tattooing is not what it once was, this convention collab thing is a good example. I’ve have worked with many of the best from artists, and I know many of us old farts are tired of how things are being done today. I decided to step down from the stage long ago. Can’t keep up with it. You and I have talked about this before. The stuff you wrote have upset the wrong people this time. I totally agree with you, and many days I wish that I can go back in time 10-20 years. I’m sponsored by important people in the network of the artists you upset. By important, I mean the people that make things happen both good and bad. I can’t afford to go into war with the same people that help me put money in my account. If I risk this, I’m not sure what will happen. I don’t think I have that many good years left in this business, my back is totally fucked. You know this too. I don’t have any other skills. This is what I do. Definitely not the best out there, but I’m doing my best every day. You have done so much good things with your project, and I believe you are a good guy. So I hope you keep fighting, but I think you understand what this means for me.

Take care bro! “

After reading a bunch of messages from artists and friends, and finally this email, I made my decision. TAP will not be responsible for damaging anyone’s career just because they try to defend an opinion that so many others don’t care about. It’s quite ironic though, one of the artists who commented on one of the rat pack artist’s post and was quite angry at me, was the same artist that later sent me a message apologizing for it. I never replied to him, because I honestly think that he has his own war to fight. But I do realize that the power of social media pressure is brutal. 

Not that it really makes a difference to my decision, but if you wanna read the original article about the London multi tattoo collaboration, I saved the article as a PDF before deleting every post I ever made on this TAP site. You can read it here if you like. >> The tattoo circus has come to town – Tattoo Art Project

During these years I have met and got to know so many great people, and most of them have appreciated what I was trying to do with TAP. Not everyone, but definitely the majority. I can admit that somewhere along the line I lost control over TAP and I should have changed the focus entirely. Too many times I ended up promoting tattoo artists that already were very famous and didn’t really need any help. The TAP Jury system was aimed to make it more fair to decide a level of quality. I have realized that quality is not always what matters in the world of tattooing.

I have invested so so many hours of my free time in TAP. Time that I have taken from both me, my family and friends. I don’t regret it, because I have become another better version of me, and I have learned so many important things about myself.

I started back in 2011 with an idea to TAP IN to a mysterious world of art and to pour my heart and soul into it.

Now it’s 2017, and it is time for me to TAP OUT!

I wish you all the best!