In this era of specialization and fine artists entering the tattoo world like it’s the next gold rush or something, I am taking increasing amounts of pleasure in a long held tradition, the pork chop tattoo. Pork chop sheets are the ones with a bunch of small random designs that used to be the mainstay of a tattooist’s business, and they have gotten a really bad rap in the last couple of decades.
I blame the over abundance of tattoo reality shows and their screened, often tragic, clientele. Seems everyone that comes into the shop has to convince you (or is it themselves) that their tattoo has meaning. That they have thought on it long and hard. That they are not the type to just walk in and pick something off the wall, like that would be a tragedy. Well I’m going on the record right now and saying that they are almost all full of shit. Most of them really just want a tattoo but are too big of pussies to just get one and own up to it. Get your fucking tattoo, whether it’s ridiculous, artful, crazy or serious, and own it. If you really were as individual as you say, you wouldn’t give a rat’s ass what someone else thinks of your choice. If you have to intellectually justify your choice, then I believe you are deceiving yourself. You really just want a tattoo. Just admit it and be okay with it. All the mental gymnastics are just you trying to get over all of the prejudice you still have about tattoos and the people who get them. But I digress.
The ubiquitous pork chop tattoo is the sadly forgotten foundation of most older tattooists’ training and career. Over the years the flavors have changed but the vibe remains. A customer walks in, looks around, and chooses a small tattoo from pork chop sheet. It’s a beautiful thing and I love it. It reinforces my belief that a tattoo is just a tattoo. Sometimes you just want one for whatever reason, and those reasons are your own. It’s fun. It’s a small reward. It’s a milepost on the rocky road of life. It’s a joke. It’s a laugh. It’s a Mickey Mouse, a Taz, a kanji (I know it has meaning but this time it’s okay), it’s a butterfly, a blossom, a skull, a knife, a Betty Boop. It’s any fucking thing you think is cool that very minute, in that moment of your life. It may be the most meaningful tattoo you ever got, because it’s the one that your subconscious chose for you, you know, that other ninety five percent of your brain that runs your life without your help.
So here’s to the pork chop tattoo. Once and forever the soul of tattooing.