Order Vs Chaos; The Future of an Industry, of Embodiment.

Order Vs Chaos; The Future of an Industry, of Embodiment.
July 11
12:24 2017

The Divide in The Tattoo World Today:

In this article about order vs chaos, I want to first start out with a very clear disclaimer:
These are my opinions. In other words, this is the opinions of Mads the “Tattoo Sociologist”. They are the opinions of Tattoo-Logia, they do not necessarily represent the opinions, of Mediazink.

With that out of the way, let us get started. This has been a topic which I have noticed, ever since I started researching tattoos. Before I ever became the “tattoo sociologist”. Even Margo DeMello sort of mentioned it, in her book “bodies of inscription” from the year 2000. It is in no way a new topic. But it is perhaps becoming more and more relevant, as time goes on. It is the divide in the tattoo world (especially), between artists who want order and organization and structure, and the artists who want to remain ‘outlaws’, ‘pirates’, unstructured and ungoverned.

In other words, it is a divide between those seeking order and those seeking chaos. I will do my best in the remainder of this article, to explain each side, before I then discuss it. Once again, these are my opinions, based on my research and own experiences.

Those Wanting Chaos:

There is a very important distinction here, already present in the wording of the heading for this section.
Chaos is not something most artists that want it, search for. It is something they want and crave. To them it is already present, to many of them it is the way it used to be and to others it is the way they prefer things to be.

The essential drive for artists on this side of the divide, is a love of total freedom. It is a longing to the don’t care attitude which was the face of the tattoo world, back over 20 years ago. For some people, especially the chaos wanting artists, this is still how the world of tattoos is. They see this freedom and anti-establishment nature, as a crucial part of what tattoos are. Or rather, what they should be. As these artists are also, more often than not, fed up with how mainstream and industrialized tattooing has become.

They would rather sacrifice safety, structure and organization. For unfettered freedom, and the rock and roll ways of old. They want to and in some cases they do, rebel against the established artists and tattoo community. That try desperately to become a recognized trade and to get more and more organized. They just want to do, whatever they want, in whatever way they want to do it, safely or unsafely, that is up to the individual artist, and so on.

Those Seeking Order:

Now once again, there is an important distinction in the wording, of the heading. Order is precisely, something which is sought after in the majority of the tattoo world today. As is clear by previous articles of mine, perhaps even by earlier parts of this article. This was not always the case. However, as stated by Margo DeMello back in 2000 and by Mario Barth in the interview with him (here on Mediazink). With the way the industry of tattooing grows so rapidly and the clientele grows with it, perhaps order is the natural way it must develop?

At least for many artists, both ‘old timers’ like Mario Barth as well as youngsters such as Nick Morte, and many more. Order is heavily sought after, as it seems to be the key in their opinion, to achieve more freedom and trust from the rest of the world. In a way, they seek order derived from being recognized and legislated as a proper trade, by the various governments around the world. So that they can throw away the negative stigma’s and stereotypes of the old days.

In their opinion, by becoming more organized, safer and more open to the public. The industry also becomes safer both towards clients who have less to fear in regards to the quality of their tattoos, and health risks. But also, the work safety for tattoo artists could become safer, and governments wouldn’t be able to hassle artists and hunt them, like they have done in Japan. Their trade would be protected by the government, and it might even make things, such as travelling as an artist, a lot easier. What they seek here, is freedom through order/organization.

Discussion; Order vs Chaos:

So in the divide between order vs chaos, which side has the most to offer the tattoo world today?
Though I can clearly understand the allure of the old ways of chaos and the rock and roll outlaw artist.
It seems clear to me as a sociologist, that the way of chaos, would only serve to self-destruct the entire tattoo community. The chaotic way, sadly sustains and in a lot of cases re-enforces, old stigmas and prejudices towards tattoos and especially tattoo artists. It is a way that is ultimately doomed to fail, as the industry grows bigger and bigger.

The chaotic way, will just seek to alienate and drive those, that are not ‘hardcore’ or ‘badass’ enough away. Forming more of a divide between those with tattoos and those without, within society. Though this can for some individual artists sound awesome. when you look at the industry as a whole, the majority would absolutely suffer. It might even in the future, drive a last nail in the coffin for tattooing, in many countries around the world.

No, with the way the world is today and the rapidly growing size of both the tattoo industry and the community.
We can no longer afford to just fend for ourselves and have a free for all. We have to think of the greater good of the entire industry and tattoo community. There are too many pros that outweigh the cons of organization and order, when you look at it in this context. Plus organization and order, would both ensure better quality of work and safety. Which in the end, would make more people want to get a tattoo, which then would combat the stigma. It would set off a positive chain reaction.

Final Comments:

So in the question of order vs chaos, in my opinion order clearly wins. I even believe that more and more artists, especially in the newer generation, agree with this point of view. In many countries even, like Denmark, Norway, Sweden and others, we see artists organizing themselves in unions at a grassroots level. Trying to show their respective governments, that they want organization and order.

No matter what side of the divide you fall on, I hope you might have enjoyed this article and found my opinions on the topic interesting. As always, feel free to comment with your own opinions, ideas and ideas for new topics and so on.

For more like this, keep an eye peeled here on Tatto-Logia!
You can also check me out on Instagram, I sometimes post interesting theories on there (@MadsLeoWK).

Else checkout Mediazink on Facebook, YouTube and their Instagram (@Mediazink_Official)

Stay awesome people!

About Author



Mads W. K. Masters of science in Sociology (Cand. Scient. Soc.), from the University of Copenhagen, who specializes in embodiment sociology, but especially in tattoos and tattoo culture etc.

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