It’s a big business for tattoo artists in high demand. For example, it takes two to three years for tattoo enthusiasts to make it to the top of Booth’s waiting list, and once they do, it can easily cost thousands of dollars. “Generally, for the people that I tattoo, money is not the issue at all. I mean, if you’re willing to wait two years for a tattoo, you’re not thinking too much about the cost factor,” he says. “I generally will work by the hour to keep it fair and I get what I get and everybody’s happy.”
Currently, tattoo artists are taking their work to a new level. The recently established Tattoo Artist Group (TAG), a talent management firm representing some of the most renowned artists in the business (including Booth, Guy Aitchinson, Filip and Titine Leu, and others) is pushing for the acceptance of tattooing as a fine art form. “Ultimately, our mission is to maintain the integrity of the true art form, to protect the original art on behalf of the artist because these guys, globally, have never truly had this type of representation,” says Mia Reed, who left her job as a Wall Street investment banker to co-found TAG.
Reed is one of a small group of women involved in the tattoo industry. “I’m kind of used to it being a female investment banker, so it was an easy transition for me, but it’s definitely more of a boys’ club. I’m kind of used to that challenge,” Reed comments.
In another new twist, TAG manages many tattoo artists who are extending their art forms beyond the tattoo and into other mediums. “Seeing the influx of requests for art off the skin – for fine art – I figured that could be applied to any of the tattoo artists out there who are thinking outside of the box, who are entrepreneurs with their fine art skills,” says Frank Cannava, another co-founder of TAG. “It turns out the whole community is rather hungry for something like that.”