It’s 4 am on October 25th 2011. I’m in the airport in Rome and my body is tired. I just spent three days with a small group of friends speaking at a conference about staging a rebellion against mediocrity in our field; art and tattoos. I find myself saying it in separate terms though I don’t see the separation. Tattooing is a form of art of course, but the trade of tattooing has meandered through the avenues of the average and the common for most of it’s modern existence. Rome. What an appropriate place in the world to do such a thing. Surrounded by the epitome of high standards in art and dedication to one’s craft. As I walked through the streets; the humorous attempts by vendors to sell trinkets made in china, bobble headed pope statues, disco style hand held laser pointers, and plastic miniatures of the colosseum reminded me that the majority of the population remains in the realm of the average and the addicted to mediocrity. Graffiti and trash were everywhere obnoxiously stating that so many people consume and discard, rather than contribute and nurture.
I’m sitting here with a headache from the two hours sleep I struggled through since I haven’t been here long enough to get over the jet lag yet I’m heading back home already. I often find myself sort of reveling in being tired. In my case it’s more often the result of being somewhere in the world that most people would say is a trip of a lifetime. I find myself routinely resolving as the plane takes off; that if it goes down in flames, I am satisfied that I have had many many trips of a lifetime, and that my family and friends will know that I tried with all my heart, to live well, to experience more, and to inspire others to do the same.
My friend (Nick Baxter) was one of the other guest speakers this weekend. I have known him for years and worked alongside him often around the world. I had the privilege of attending his seminar and it is as the rumors have it; it is life changing. He is one of the few people I know that shares the the stage of the exceptional, intriguing and inspiring individuals among the masses. Alex Depase, of Italy also ignited a new drive in me to reach for higher ground personally, artistically, and professionally. I was honored to share the stage with Nick, Alex, the world class tattooer, Boris of Hungary and business leader Gabe Ripley of Tattoo Now and The Paradise tattoo gathering. This was an unprecedented event in the tattoo community. Not open to the public, or to people tattooing; it was a true conference for artists to be challenged to step up to the next level in many facets. I am honored and grateful to be one of the people who got to share my thoughts, perspective and insight, and I feel especially grateful for the immediate return of insight, inspiration, and education I received myself. If you get a chance to attend any event like this in the future, I suggest you do what it takes to make that a reality.