What do I mean when I say two minds of tattooing?

Simply put, there is duality of expression within the art as we see it currently. I am not creating an argument that I understand what other people are thinking. I am using the mind as a way to describe actions, or at least the intention behind an action. Give me a second and let me explain my thoughts in a short essay. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read through it.

Two minds

I had an idea pop into my head while doing research this morning. I fell prey to the classic efforts of academics to apply phylogenetic attributes to our industry and the people in it. In actuality, I do this quite often. I see someone and create a marvelous story behind the person as they walk about in their daily drudge, drive a car or converse with me in passing.

I do not know if I am alone in this but I will apply the idea that we all do for this essay. There are styles that artists ascribe to and styles of fashion that usually accompany those artists. We as humans are attuned to this aspect of society as it was a tool that increased survivability over generations.

It was a way to determine an association to a clan or a way to defer from what is different from ourselves. It helps us determine what is safe in a most primal way.

I feel comfortable expressing these thoughts as they popped into my head whilst pooping.

(I had to take advantage of that sentence. Thank you for understanding.)

Cognition and the evolution of the two minds

Wooooooooah! Reading that shit above made no sense dude! Please take time and give me the Barney style breakdown of what you mean!

Okay. I know that the above sounded like a rant from some philosophical asshole. I apologize.

What I meant to say before leading you off the deep end of thought was:

We have evolved to have different minds. Those minds contain attributes that influence our actions.

This may seem like a wild idea but look around you. You already know (if you aren’t a sociopath) that we are all different. What you see and what I see right now are different (unless you are secretly camming my writing area!)

Would it be crazy to think that we also interpret the input that is our lives differently?


If I taste a cookie, is it the same as you?

What about colors? If I see this color and call it blue, do you see it the same way even if you know it to be blue?

Those are some of the easiest ways we can question someone’s cognition when compared to our own. While science will most likely never have a good idea of what the answer is, we can safely assume the answer to the above questions is, NO. You have your experiences and I have mine. Your physical makeup is not the same as mine.

Social Complexity

Ok dude, I follow you so far but what does this have to do with tattooing?

I have been hyper critical about tattooers and artists for a long time. It wasn’t until recently that I started to be critical about my efforts to critique everyone. I am an asshole by nature so taking the time out to think about why’s and what’s make me more centered.

The idea that we are all different is key in our survivability as a species. If we all did see blue the same way or tasted ice cream the same way, life would be boring. Not only that, we probably wouldn’t have made it very far in our course of time on this planet. We require a complex model to function from to ensure our species is adaptable to stress.

This is attached to the idea of social contracts. We have an article about it

Why our differences matter – Two Minds

As a human on this planet, would you rather explore the seven seas or stay back and make mad bank?

Individuals have little problem answering a simple question like the one posited above. If you are apprehensive about wandering aimlessly, you would most likely enjoy the security money brings. Do you care little about personal effects and owning a home? If so, you most likely would enjoy a bit of bumming about.

If the entirety of our species over its existence had been focused on a singular method of security or improvement, where would we be now?

Two minds – Society and Challenge

If our society was purely focused on the improvement of social order and health, where would we be collectively?

…Most likely without anti-vaxxers or flat earthers.

Would that be a good thing though?

Without a critical objection to any commonly held belief(s) we would be stranded upon our “proofs” that bind our progress. The world could very well be considered the center of the solar system still if people just took common knowledge and didn’t actively try to disprove it.

This practice is a core tenet to the philosophical beliefs in the West. We must question all that is around us to further understand the why of a problem.

Two Minds – Benefits

When society choose to challenge our surroundings, innovation springs forth and propels us in new directions. These challenges are a necessary part of our existence. Much like the allegory of Plato’s Cave, if we accept what is in front of us and choose not to wander forth, we will be trapped forever.

This doesn’t come down to brain size or where you grew up (although outside stressors can influence how we deal with information), however, this idea surrounds how you choose to interact with information in real time. It is about how you react and interpret your surroundings.

Are you a person who chooses to look at the effect of something personally, subjectively? Or are you the type of person who wishes to know how things effect the population at large?

Onto a quick description of the two minds in our industry now. This is subjective phylogeny.

Here’s a list, in no particular order:

Mind 1 – The Artist

The first mind I am writing about is the mind of an artist. How can you spot these people inside in the industry?

They have a focus that is honed on the expression of a style. There is little to no effort being put into the understanding of why something is done, only how it can be completed. They want to make the best physical product, which in turn, helps them to realize their own perfection.

They choose to define their ability by the art that they produce on paper and skin. The ideals surrounding their actions is progress.

Their growth in the industry can be defined as linear and their mindset is almost purely subjective. They are the how of the industry and they are focused on results. The product produced only matters personally, which has little regard for outside input or critique.

Mind 2 – The Technician

The second mind we meet is the technician.

Their mind is focused on the way things are completed. The “why” in the process.

They choose to break down the aspects of any small thing inside the trade of study. Their wish is to understand what the reason behind an action are. Their focus is how best to approach solutions.

The technician’s goal is the total understanding of the process, regardless of the outcome. It is more scientific in its approach and requires an objective mind. The how of this mind is focused on determining the best actionable cause and effect, objectively.

What makes up the Industry now

I feel as if the industry has evolved towards a more art-centric voice, leaving behind the idea of technical mastery. If you are surrounded by artists in an industry, where does the technician fit in? They don’t, to be honest. The technician, while trying to understand they why, is left to focus on rudimentary applications while their competitor is innovating ideas. To the artist, they are stagnant in their efforts and are holding progress back.

Our industry is victim to the normal onslaught of social media and a need for acceptance. If your clients don’t like you or think you’re uncool, you will have a hard time gaining enough respect to build a career. Sadly, both minds are victim to these pressures and must tend to their egos while dealing with their individual focus.

Hipster with coffee
We are all victims of social trends.

Two minds and innovation

Look to the media and advertisements that surround us as industry insiders. You are told “professionals only” like there is some magical badge granted once you can fulfil an order from a supplier. The industry pumps out products of unknown quality that you happily purchase on word of mouth recommendation alone.

The lone practitioner will have a difficult time navigating these waters as there is no information about what is truly safe or what is of good quality. There is a disconnect between the information that is backed by evidence and that which is backed by experience.

The formula for success now is to blindly trust the manufacturer to provide a quality product. Your other option is to listen to an acquaintance about what they trust and base your purchases off their recommendation.

Where are the why’s in that formula? Do we stand any chance when scrutinizing these manufacturers or friends?

The reality of innovation – Two Minds

There are many artists and tattooers inside the industry now, their egos awash in social media support, pushing the envelope with what we see as finished work. Their ideals are similar to the practices of a modern painter, sculptor or computer graphics superstar. They are lucky enough to be sponsored by large manufacturers and carry the banner of these products to the undereducated, pawning them off as liquid gold.

That comparison makes me think of these superstars quiet similar to the alchemists of far gone generations. Those ol’ alchemy wizards were trusted by the rulers to make a product worth more than what it is worth. They were given chunks of lead with the promise of changing its properties to something like gold which can be taken literally or figuratively.

Is the gold a physical gift given by the alchemist, or is the knowledge what is truly sought after?

Questions about innovation

Concerning the current products on the shelves, we have seen a drastic increase in what we consider quality in tattooing. The colors are more vibrant and the work that is being produced is almost unbelievable. In some cases, it’s properly unbelievable.

We can cross that topic in a later post. It’s under construction right now and it’s heavy. Let’s move on.

It is my belief that, currently, those who are attracted to this industry are of one mind. It is appealing as all hell to know that you, as an artist, can focus your intention towards the subjective growth of doing something you love. You can walk into an industry and effect real change while not sacrificing your art.

We see this practice sought after in many industries. Look to the banking system, politics, professional sports; there is a mindset that prevails above those others that attempt to make entry into them. You are goal oriented, focused, driven and nothing matters more to you than the finish. (I was going to put in Finnish, but walked away from a bad pun. You’re welcome.)

“If you are not a shark, don’t bother working here”


Let’s say you are a person who is seeking studies in a trade. Your focus is to become the best from the idea inception. Whatever you decide the best may be is subjective, but that decision sets the tone and pace of your career. You incept your future by focusing wholly on the end result.

Are you willing to sacrifice your friends, coworkers or family to get to what you see as perfection?

What’s left?

I feel like, at least through my actions, I am neither a technician or an artist. Although, if I would have settled on one mindset or the other I would most likely have far more security in my life.

It makes me sad to see the focus of each mindset in the industry focused on the personal gains given to us by our clientele. There is little to no focus on the collaborative acts imbued in the trust given to us by our clientele. The trade has become a farce with no clear direction for the future. We may end up fixing what it has become. However, there may be a loss of trust from those we rely on to make us become great.

Two Minds – Final Thoughts

I am not writing this about you dear reader. The persons described herein are only figments of my imagination and my views are subjective. You’re allowed to contend this and toss actual logic my way. In fact, I welcome it. That’s the whole idea of thinking inside your own head once in a while.

I leave you with something silly:

Three conspiracy theorists walk into a bar… that can’t be a coincidence

One thought

  1. I enjoyed the article a lot, but my favorite part was a throwaway line: “I’m an asshole by nature.” Amen, brother. So am I.

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