There's been a lot of controversy recently over Channel 4's hit show, Tattoo Fixers. Disgruntled tattoo artists up and down the country are claiming the show is making a mockery of their art and an ex-contestant's Facebook rant about his alleged poor treatment has gone viral. Throw in a bit of tabloid sensationalism, and suddenly it's the show on everyone's lips.
I've found the whole thing a little bizarre, if I'm honest. I had a brilliant time on Tattoo Fixers. I was treated incredibly well and I'm over the moon with my tattoo. When I was initially contacted by the show, I had no idea it was going to be such a hit, but its popularity has grown and grown to gargantuan levels. And how do we Brits react to such success? We tear it down. I'm guilty of it myself. Take Adele for example; I used to love her, but now I find her dull, overexposed and actually quite irritating. It's no surprise Tattoo Fixers has found itself in the firing line, particularly in an age where social media gives people a platform to express their opinions so publicly.
On that note, I feel it's important to address the rant posted by Daniel Head, the recent tattoo 'fixee' who 'exposed the truth' about the show. My first observation when reading his status was that he doesn't seem to understand how TV works. His shock that the show was filmed in a warehouse and not an actual tattoo studio, his confusion that they asked him to wear the same clothes on two separate days so that it looked like one, his bewilderment at the receptionist who is actually an actress and not a real receptionist. The whole thing left me wondering whether I should drop him a note to break the bad news about Santa Clause?
Joking aside, there were several parts of his status that irked me slightly. I'm not sure whether he exaggerated, completely lied, or whether Studio Lambert hypnotised me following the event, but something just didn't add up for me. He mentions there was a seven-hour wait whilst the tattoo artists had their makeup done. From what I can remember, I arrived at 7:30am and began filming within the first half an hour. I don't recall the artists having their makeup done at all, but if they did, they'd have started at around 12:30am. Pretty sure not even Pete Burns and his big face take that long, so I'm going to call bullshit on that one.
His status continues to tear the show apart in ways that just don't match up with my experience, or with those of people I have spoken with who have also appeared on the show. My tattoo was designed on the day and I was given several chances to speak up if I wasn't happy with it. I certainly never felt like there was any pressure involved. Jay, the artist who did my tattoo, chatted away to me throughout the entire experience and we even added each other on Facebook in case there were any problems. The runners and researchers were constantly checking we were okay, giving us plenty of food and even offering to buy stuff from the shops if there was anything we wanted.
Admittedly, the disgruntled tattoo artists are more qualified to comment on the show, and I've read and taken in their comments. Perhaps not every tattoo is a technical masterpiece and a lot of them will not be to everybody's tastes, but TV shows have filming schedules to stick to and opinions on tattoos are subjective. As for claims of plagiarism, that's not something I feel qualified to comment on, but I don't think the show should be blamed for an individual's actions, particularly if they were unaware.
I guess this is all rather easy for me to say because tattoos aren't a passion of mine; my main passion in life is washed-up female vocalists. But when I watch X Factor, I don't get angry that these so-called 'brilliant' singers pale in comparison to Mariah, Whitney or Celine; I understand that it's television. It's terrible television, but it's fluffy, light and geared towards a certain audience. Do these inferior X Factor singers affect the legacy of my beloved 90s vocal triad? No. By the same token, a shit cover-up on TV is not going to make anybody with half a brain think that all tattoo cover-ups are shit. Additionally, a show that takes a long, serious look at the tattoo process is not going to entertain a houseful of bored students on a Thursday night.
I can't help but feel sorry for everybody who helped to make Tattoo Fixers the success it is today. From its conception, to the filming process, to postproduction, to the show's PR and marketing - there will have been hundreds of people involved, and I can't imagine how frustrating this negative attention must be for them.
A lot of people may think I'm not of sound mind given my choice of subject (I'm the guy who had a picture of Deirdre Barlow tattooed to his calf), but one thing I am sure of is that I had an amazing time on Tattoo Fixers. Disgruntled tattoo artists may think Tattoo Fixers is jeopardising their careers, but by running to the press, they're doing exactly the same thing to those involved in making the show.