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Tradition Vs Modern

Posted By Jo Harrison on 17th August 2016

I have definitely been guilty of buying into the convenience of Modern technology and it is a battle I have had inside me for a number of years for various reasons.

I learnt to tattoo 20 years ago using coil machines with their daily fluctuations in character and mood. Some days they purr to you like a kitten, others they roar like a lion and quite frankly some days they were more like a woman with PMS! But they were made with passion and love by craftsmen with an incredible knowledge and as much as they drove me crazy sometimes they all had their own unique character and I loved them all. I have a beautiful collection and for the last 9 years they have rested, pride of place in my tattoo station while I have been charmed by the ease and reliability of more modern rotaries. One machine to do everything. One machine is the same as the next, if it breaks…buy another, exactly the same! Very convenient.
Another charm is they are very lightweight, that is true. But with less weight I found I was doing all the work, using my force to drive the needles in. What is more important than weight is balance, a perfectly balanced machine with a weighty enough grip to counterbalance it, it has a weight behind the machine to do the pushing for you!
I had a vision of myself using a machine that’s lineage was from someone outside of the tattoo industry pumping money through a factory production line, and that would be part of the legacy I leave within the tattoo industry and I was horrified! With that I dusted off my coils and went back to my roots where I started as an apprentice; Kev Shercliff “everything comes back full circle Jo.” Kev has been tattooing 37 years and was one of the top tattooers in the UK, he helped to form the UK tattoo industry at a time before the Internet, when knowledge was passed from human to human. We recently been spending time in his workshop and I am so grateful for the time and knowledge he is passing onto me and to be part of his story and lineage! Hanumantra, Kev and I are working on an incredible project together and I am very honored to be part of this, exciting announcements coming soon!

I’m not saying don’t embrace anything modern, I’m writing this on my iPad on an aeroplane! But my perspective is that I have to think about my responsibility to the community I love and that has supported me, and the legacy I leave behind for future tattooers. I would be devastated to realise in years to come that I had been part of the demise of such a beautiful part of the tattoo industry because I hadn’t realized the repercussions of convenience. I feel a responsibility to secure an important part of the heritage of my industry.

A handcrafted machine made with love, passion and knowledge passed down through a chain of tattooers, that’s what I want to keep alive and be part of.

A tattoo machine with a soul.IMG_1865 IMG_1871 IMG_1818 IMG_1805 IMG_1656 IMG_1827