7 points, that might help to form a new generation of mindful, talented, sensible and hard working tattooers

Stef Bastiàn New TAttoo Gemration with old skills Copyright European Tattoo Panel

Stef Bastiàn: “I hope these few pointers might help form a new generation of mindful, talented, sensible and hard working tattooers, that contributes to the benefit of the whole industry and those involved, being colleagues or clients.


I. KNOW YOUR WHY

Ask yourself honestly why you wanted to be a tattooer in first place. Is it because the lifestyle, the validation, the quick buck? If that’s the case your WHY comes from a place of taking, rather than giving. Shift the focus from “I” to “you/them” and ask yourself: “What can I give to tattooing?” rather than “What’s in it for me?” 

Contribution” here is the key word.


II. CULTIVATE RESPECT

I’m not talking about bruised egos here, by “respect” in this context I mean:

A) “When you carry your own water you learn the value of every drop”.

Understand the hardships that experienced artists went through to gain a certain knowledge and don’t pretend to have it all laid on a silver plate just because. That is arrogant and naive self entitlement.

Pay your share of sweat, tears and blood with quiet dignity and patience and earn a mentor’s trust by becoming the example of rightful behavior. If you’re going to make a difference for the better, be prepared for the long journey. 

Going through those challenges, obstacles and setbacks is not only necessary but vital. You need to build your immune system by putting yourself through the worst scenarios possible. In this sense, an apprenticeship is designed to break you apart, to gain not only the technical tools but most importantly the emotional ones to thrive under any circumstances and to separate those who wants it enough from those who don’t. Growth lays outside of your comfort zone. Those who never faced difficulties drown with the first drops of rain, I’ve seen it. 

B) Value the foundations of this trade by paying tribute to its history. 

By knowing where we come from, we know where we’re going. People of the past worked hard to lay down the basis for the things we have today. Knowledge, techniques, designs, tools. The least we can do is to spend some time learning about their contributions, beyond today’s IG hotshots. This is not to keep old systems of power in place but, like art history, so that you know what you’re talking about. 

GO TO THE ROOTS, NOT TO THE FRUITS. 

C) Invest back into tattooing by supporting

Your favorite artists by getting tattooed; investing in good books; buying equipment from experienced tattooers and not those just trying to exploit the industry.

D) Mindful words and actions

Think twice before speaking (or commenting) and focus on what that is gonna bring for everybody, not just you (listen to @andreas_coenen’s words on ep. 5 of the @tattootalespodcast, he makes wise remarks). Sometimes egotistic behaviors may affect the collective for the worst (shared pictures of Rolex and expensive lifestyles, anybody?)


III. WORK HARDER

Give all you’ve got and then give a bit more. 

All successful businesses are built upon the foundation of hard work. That means work hard by day, draw/paint/study by night, weekends included. The will to go the extra mile is what separates who makes it from who doesn’t. The difference? One just didn’t want it enough.


IV. TREASURE VERSATILITY

A true tattooer worth of this name should be able to satisfy every request that comes through the door. One trick ponys are just good for the internet.

First of all it’s about mastering (or aiming at that) the art of tattooing in its entirety, learning a set of skills which covers different styles. Such skills are mutually complimentary when incorporated in the style you specifically choose to pursuit.

Then let’s remember that this is a service industry not a platform for individualism. 

It’s all about people, not the picture. 


V. KNOW YOUR TOOLS

Quoting Charlie Wagner: “If you don’t know how to assemble a tattoo machine, you shouldn’t have one”.

These days you don’t have to solder your own needles anymore but nevertheless you need to know your tools. Invest time to learn everything you can regarding machines, how to assemble them, how to change a spring, tune them etc.


VI. INVEST IN YOURSELF

You are your no.1 asset so is your mental health. 

Cultivate healthy routines for body and mind, so that you can perform well for a long time and be grounded in stormy times. Train mental and emotional resilience (through meditation and philosophy, stoicism is a good place to start) to keep things in perspective.

Try to see the good in a situation and stir your perception of external events in a positive and constructive light (you can’t control them but you can control your reaction to them).

As Abraham Lincoln said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. 


VII. STAY HUMBLE

Never reach the point where you think you’re too good for that tattoo(or anything else for that matter). 

I worked alongside people with 40 years of tattooing and those who stayed in top are those who never stopped asking questions, listening, learning.

“The fool talks, the smart stays quiet, the wise listens”. 

And remember, true leaders lead by example. 


About the author Stef Bastiàn

Stef Bastiàn has been tattooing for almost 20 years and is a restless and inspiring creative, dedicated to many different aspects of tattooing, art and personal development in a holistic sense.

Since 2017 he has participated in a huge amount of projects and collaborations and initiated many projects himself. Especially remarkable for us is his social engagement. The collective of elite artists, that Stef selects and coordinates already collected and donated over 130,000€ with the help of his various charity projects. An insane amount. And our utmost respect for so much dedication.

By the way, if you have any questions to Stef, feel free to contact him here in the Tattoo Panel. We are very proud to have Stef on board as a Tattoo Panel member.

Stef Bastiàn on Instagram
Tattootales podcast on Instagram
The charity projects on Instagram
Stef’s website


What do you think about Stef’s 7 pointers? Let us know about your thoughts and please write us your responses below.

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