TLC's Tattoo School: Dear God, Why?
For those of you not familiar with the latest in "trash" or reality TV, the TLC channel premiered their new show here in the US this past Tuesday called Tattoo School. The show follows three students in Dr. W. Pogue's two week course at his Shrevport, LA establishment which he calls "The World's Only Tattoo School."
Let me preface this article by stating that I am not in the tattoo industry in any way. Hell, I can't even draw. But I have several friends who make a living as tattoo artists, and just seeing this show I can sympathize with why so many artists and industry people want it banned. Perhaps you are in the industry, though - and maybe throughout my hub you find things that you disagree with completely - that's great, and I hope that you will argue them (albeit politely) in the comments section. Maybe you aren't in the industry at all either, but watched the program and enjoyed it. That's great, too - I'm sure that TLC is very pleased with having you as a repeat viewer.
Personally, I was completely turned off by the program in every way. I love tattoo shows, and have watched all the reality shows, documentaries, and even the more recent "competition" tattoo shows that have aired. Mostly, I just love seeing amazing tattoos done by honest to goodness professional artists. People who have dedicated their entire lives to the art of tattooing. I also love tattoos personally - I've always been fascinated by them, and growing up I couldn't wait to get one of my own. I originally wanted to get tattoos that had "meaning," but like many people I know tattoos become addicting, and soon I was covered. No, my tattoos are not all the greatest. I would never say that any of the ones I have are show pieces - but I will say that none of them are "scratch" pieces, and none of them look even half as bad as any of the horrible pieces that were completed on Tattoo School.
The show, as I said, follows a few students taking Dr. Pogue's (by the way, he's a chiropractor) class. He teaches them the basics of tattooing, from how to actually set up the tattoo machine, to how to create a stencil, to how to tattoo on skin (using piece of pigs - feet or ears, etc.) Then, the scary part - after a week (read: halfway through their course) Dr. P brings in real clients to have tattoos done. So, some of these students, having no artistic ability and only the slightest basic premise of tattooing are now being asked to do real pieces on real people. Now, that's all fine and dandy if the people getting the tattoos are aware of the fact that the artists aren't really artists at all, but students who have zero ability. On the show, Dr. P asks a client once her tattoo is finished "did you know it was [whatever the student's name is] first tattoo?" And the client says "No, I didn't!" Granted that could have just been for television purposes (and it probably was) but come on now - who would volunteer for this?!
In checking out Dr. Pogue's website (www.tattoo-school.com) you can find out that he is, in fact, some sort of "accredited" institution in the state of Louisiana. That's all well and good, too. At least we now know how lax that state of Louisiana is about their "schooling." At the end of the course, if you have proven to Pogue that you have learned the skills necessary to tattoo, then you get a certificate that says you've completed. I'd assume the certificate says "I'M STUPID ENOUGH TO HAVE PAID A HACK $5600 FOR TWO WEEKS OF TATTOO LESSONS." It maybe even has a pretty font, too. (Oh, and yes - that's the real tuition price for this course.)
In watching the show, I couldn't imagine what tattoo shop in their right mind would take someone from this course and give them a job. Dr. Pogue is apparently under the impression that the years of apprenticeship that all good, professional tattoo artists go through is total garbage, and that two weeks is all it will take to make you a professional. You should then be good to go out and open your own business. Forget that he apparently doesn't talk at all about disease prevention, blood borne pathogens, or any sort of general health precautions. That's fine - just learn how to use the tattoo machine, then go get a real job in a shop! And no, they won't make you apprentice when you get there - you've got two weeks and 3 real clients under your belt already! You're already halfway to being in Tattoo Magazine!
It's really just sad, actually, that people are taken by this, essentially, fraud. It should come to no surprise to anyone that during the end of the show, when they showed the young guys and girls holding up their "diplomas" for the cameras, and the super imposed story of "after the show" comes up - it didn't say anything about any of them running their own tattoo shops or getting a job as an artist. In fact, they all said something to the effect of "continued working in their old job, and also tattoo out of their house part-time." Great, so they're tattooing in their home states illegally, and if are caught are more than likely never going to get licensed anywhere in the country. The other couple said "Is looking for a shop to apprentice in."
And that is exactly my point here - why are these people wasting nearly $6,000 to "learn" to tattoo? If you're an aspiring artist, draw some things up. Create a portfolio. Bring it to shops. With that, maybe you could find someone with the time and energy to train you the right way, and bring you up properly in the business. I can almost guarantee though, that if your certificate from "The World's Only Tattoo School" is in the front of your portfolio, they're going to tell you to take a walk. Just like any other facet of life, you have to pay dues. And dues take way more time than two weeks and cost way more money than just $6000...to a chiropractor.
At the beginning of the show, Dr. Pogue states that the tattoo industry hates him for "giving away their secrets." No, Dr. Pogue, I think the industry hates you because you're an old fool of a scam artist, and you're giving the entire tattoo community a bad name. I don't care at all that you've been running your school since 1968. All that means to me is that you've made way too much money and given no real results.
But hey - don't take my word for it...see some completed work done by students here: http://tattoo-school.com/?page_id=120&show=gallery