Baxter's Blog


Posted in Contests by misterroadtripper on October 13, 2010


I thought I might comment on the contest, the one where we’re giving away a copy of the $550, three-volume, 1,008-page copy of Black & Grey Tattoos from Edition Reuss. Thanks to Matthias Reuss, who has donated the books, we have created a contest where talented tattoo artists can compete with other talented artists for the grand prize. But, frankly, I had trepidations. Contests, traditionally, don’t work, especially among artists. From my experience, they usually say something like, “I will be glad to exhibit my work, but not in competition with other people.” Hey, tattoo artists compete every day, in order to win customers away from other shops, other artists. But no matter… they don’t want to join in. Now, I think that’s becayse the artist doesn’t want to come in second or third (or worse) and look bad. Hey, how would it be if the tattooist who everyone thinks is one of the two or three best portrait artists in the world would lose out to an unknown from some tiny town in the Poland? Tattoo artists are known for their egos, and coming in less than Numero Uno would be entirely unacceptable.

But something has changed. I posted the Book Contest and the entries began to arrive from all over the globe: Poland, Russia, China, Canada, South America, Italy, England and, of course, the United States. All from working artists who are willing to… (what’s the word?) PLAY. They are willing to play, have some fun and see what happens. Maybe they’ll win the books, maybe not, but they’ll have fun doing it, fun taking a chance, fun putting themselves out there for the world to judge.

I used to produce music festivals back in the ’70s. One band would compete against a dozen or so others for cash prizes in front of huge audiences. More than once, the winning group was a hodgepodge of musicians who formed a band a few days before getting on stage, and the honorable mention, the band that came in twelfth out of twelve ended up being the platinum-record Grammy winner. Who cares? It was fun. It was putting themselves out there and doing their art. They had a good time and a great story to tell. In winning or losing, they became an in inspiration to others.

Back when I was editing Skin&Ink, getting people to participate in a contest, a flash contest, for example, was like pulling hen’s teeth. Two maybe three people would enter per month. Nothing special or enthusiastic. But, with the Black & Grey Book Contest, we have so many entries that I’ve had to change the closing date three times. Instead of having a problem getting entrants, I’m trying to figure out how to accommodate posting three photos of each artist’s work, using the somewhat limited WordPress tools.

So, where do we stand? First off, there’s some real excitement about the contest, and the tattoo work from the entries is phenomenal (the finalists will be posted and you can start voting on October 20th). Second, I have discovered that the website and Blog has freed us up. No more pixilated breasts. No more black strips covering butt cracks. No more articles with three photos (see the Destination features with their own, individual slide shows on the website). We can do whatever we want!

What’s the upshot of all this? Easy. It’s about celebrating art. It’s about having fun. It’s about taking chances… and it’s about having a forum to experiment, show off a little and, best of all, communicate… with me, with the readers of this Blog and, best of all, communicate with the body art fans and tattoo artists, wherever they may be…. all over the world.

—Bob Baxter

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