A tattooing profession starts with being good at what people call “dissociating,” or having a skill “that can be used in conjunction with other arts in order to bring forth a strong expression,” according to tattoo artist and curator Jason “Chase” Cammisa.
“Dissociating is the ability to take someone who does something well and turn that person into something new—or in order to do something creative,” Cammisa said. “That’s what I do. I can’t draw, but I can do other things that can be applied to tattoos. So when it comes down to it, I draw stuff.”
How exactly would he draw a tattoo is a subject of active debate. “In my mind, when I’m drawing, I think I come up with an idea, then I draw and I see [it] as a separate drawing,” said Cammisa.
This, according to tattoo expert and artist Dave Chilcott, is the “invisible drawing” method. Cammisa, for example, usually draws by drawing with a pen or pencil on an acetate backing, which allows his body to retain the outline without the ink, the ink’s color and the pigment, making that area, in some cases, much lighter.
Chilcott, meanwhile, says he’ll draw with a laser pointer, which allows him to see very clearly what the artist does—and to see changes that would not be visible if the artist drew directly on the tattoo.
“The secret, is that I do it with a very steady hand, so I can move my hand, so all these small details don’t disappear because I can’t see them. So I can do it in a very controlled manner.”
What kind of tattoo artists are there?
A lot of tattooists, according to Cammisa, are artists. “It’s the same thing with film and television—there’s so many different types of people and different backgrounds and different skills that could make an image, and you want to have that. It’s not just just a one person art.”
However, tattooing is much more than just an artistic pursuit. There’s a whole world of business to be involved in to provide service, and that is what allows the profession to expand.
“Being tattooed involves a whole other set of disciplines, such as makeup, and the hair business,” says Cammisa. “If I was a character painter,
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