On January 15th, I announced on my Instagram page that there will no longer be the London Tattoo Convention. This has been one of the most difficult things that I’ve ever done over the past thirty years in the tattoo sector.
Everyone knows how important London was for me, and how much I invested personally and professionally so that London would be “The Convention”, the place to be. And in the moment when I decided to click “post” on Instagram, I realized that it was true, that London was over. The bomb had been launched and – as only social networks can do – the shock waves spread out in an instant.
I would like to use this space to thank the overwhelming number of you who have written me. Even though I knew how much everyone cared, I never could have imagined this kind of response from our community. What struck me the most – which is why I want to share it – was the fact that so many people expressed an overall feeling of loss, with the fear that the closing of London means the end of a chapter in tattooing that lasted fifteen years and can be expressed with just one word: meritocracy.
And it’s true, because at the London convention you couldn’t participate through an exchange of services (If I pay, then as a consequence I’m in), but you had to be up to par, first and foremost. There was an artistic direction, in this case my own, which dictated that the parterre of tattooists was set up according to very simple, transparent and clear criteria for all: you had to be good, best represent a style, or present something innovative that’s appropriate to the tattoo sector. And the city of London took down its geographical barriers and became our own, small world: a place to meet, hang out and watch tattooing live, in an energizing contamination of cultures, people, traditions and different styles, which someone had endorsed.
Tattooists, who are among the most respected in the world today, began their (exponential) growth in London without knowing that there had been a “before London”, and assuming that it was normal for there to be meritocracy, and a selection method. Everyone who, like myself, fifteen years ago had already been in this sector for at least fifteen more years, knows very well how much this meritocracy has contributed to a general push in advancing this art form. They all know that London was the indicator of quality, the most objective and impartial evaluation tool. Many new tattooists probably don’t know this, since they’ve only heard people talk about London and haven’t been able to experience it.
This is the reason why so many people have written to me, to share the fear of finding themselves in an empty space devoid of meritocracy that this bomb has created. It’s a crater that people fear will be filled more and more by the subjective indicators which everyone uses to measure their own abilities: the great Social Network God that establishes and arranges things according to the supreme criteria to which everyone, inevitably, bows: the algorithm.
As a practical response to the demonstration of affection I’ve received which has deeply moved me, besides saying thanks and waiting for better times and a new challenge, I can’t help but work even harder to ensure that the publishing channels I use to present the world of tattooing are valid and impartial tools for measuring the true quality of everyone who is presented – seals of quality, and sieves that always, and only, keep the best.