Well party people, it’s that time of the month again, where we sit down and give a big high five to someone who’s been a real asset to the tattoo industry. Call it a Tattoosday UK pat on the back, if you will.
This month, Cliff White. There are a billion great things you could say about Cliff, but the best description I’ve ever read was by Needles and Sins’ Marisa Kakoulas:
When Cliff began to tattoo in the early eighties, he had to learn to make his own needles, mix his own pigment from powder, tune his own machines, and search to find the right supplies. As an apprentice to William Averso, he scrubbed toilets and mopped floors. He spent hours cutting acetate stencils, a time-honored tradition that built up the muscle in artists’ hands. Cliff’s apprenticeship also included throwing out unruly clients–of which there were many. He says that guys who walked into the shop would puff out their chests and felt they had to be the toughest guy on the block. “If you worked in a shop back then, no matter how big and bad this guy was–and the biggest and the baddest were your clients–you couldn’t let anyone get over on you in your shop,” he explains. “That is your territory. If one person gets over on you, then everyone gets over on you. Nowadays, it’s like dealing with the boy scouts.”
What he didn’t get much of in his apprenticeship were history lessons, so he had to seek them out. He began by visiting long-time tattooists. “I made it my point to go out there, shake their hands, sit and talk with them,” he says. “I have done this up and down the East Coast.” He’s also heard a few good tales from his friend Lyle Tuttle, some so good, he won’t share them in print.
That’s from here, by the way, where Marisa told the world about her interview with him for Skin and Ink magazine.
Let’s face it though, there are loads of “old-timers” in this industry who I could have spoken about, what the hell makes Cliff so special this month? Well, this month, Cliff fought the law- and the law changed! Or at least, it looks as though it will.
Just last week, I told you guys about how Cliff’s been trying to change the laws around the sale of equipment in his area, which we’re hoping could be the catalyst for something pretty big. There’s already a bill in place, which will hopefully become law, making the sale of tattoo equipment in Suffolk County (New York) to anyone without a licence illegal.
Basically, Cliff is out Dude of the Month, because he, along with those who supported his ideas, stood up and did something about what they believe is right. And that’s more than awesome.