The Old School Code of Conduct

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By Bob Done

Reblogged from:

At a time when new Tattoo Studios are popping up in towns faster and more frequently than ever, I thought it would be cool to have a chat with my mentor and 20 year veteran of the craft Phil Kyle about the situation we find ourselves collectively in, and what it was like for him “back in the day”.

This is the slightly edited version because I don’t think the internet was, nor will it ever be ready for the original.

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BD – Ok, what’s your name and how long have you been tattooing for?

PK – Phil Kyle, been tattooing 21 years and been getting tattooed for almost 30 now.

Where did you start tattooing?

I served my apprenticeship at Main Street Tattoo just outside of Baltimore Maryland in Edgewood. I started actually tattooing when my mentor thought it was the right time.

How many shops were in town when you first started tattooing?

2 at most, unlike today’s carnival.

And what was the relationship like between those shops and yours?

People just did their work and got on with it.

And what would have happened if someone else moved into town and opened up a shop?

(Laughing) Well…….Back then they would’ve got a warning, and if they ignored the warning there would’ve been some action. They’d have their equipment taken maybe, or you know… But the fact was that people with no morals or ethics got served the fuck up. It’s not like today where assholes open up one street over. What’s the fucking point? And they don’t even have the nut sacks to come say, “Hey I’m opening up”, or whatever. Like we did. It’s like fast food chains popping up everywhere. Serving total shit! (laughing) People that should just be clients are opening up shops. If they really loved tattooing they should just stick to getting tattooed, and not try to be some hipster cool guy who couldn’t tattoo their way out of a paper bag. These are the people that talk way too much trash too, if they could run their tattoo machines the way they run their mouths maybe they could actually tattoo.

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What happened when an apprentice had served their time and felt it was time to leave maybe? Would it have been normal for them to go and open up their own shop?

Well I moved from the Baltimore area to Atlanta Georgia…Thats a 10 & 1/2 hour drive.
686 miles, or 1,104 km. And I didn’t go and open a shop, I went to work for someone else. We had contracts which stated we had to move at least 100 miles away. That was normal. Who needs 30 shops in 1 town? Oh wait….(laughing) that is what is happening everywhere now. Brighton! (Sighs)

What would have happened if you had ignored that contract or advice?

I would’ve been blackballed from tattooing for sure. Doors would have closed everywhere; conventions, suppliers, contacts, all those folks would have just shut the door to you and you’d have been made out to be a scum bag. And if you had of opened up a shop? Put it this way, it wouldn’t of been open for very long…(Phil grabbed a ball peen hammer and goes to smash my hand – lightning quick reflexes save my mitts).

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So what is the old school “Code of Conduct” in regards to opening a new shop in a new town?

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