The idea of the traveling tattooer has been around since the earliest days of tattooing in the United States, with artists touring the country alongside the circus long before they considered laying down roots and opening up shops of their own. So when tattoo artist Marina Inoue chose to ditch the comforts of home, jump into an RV and hit the road full time she was merely following in the footsteps of those that came before her. But unlike those pioneers, Inoue has a very strong weapon at her disposal — a website.
While she’s out on the road Inoue doesn’t have an assistant you can call to schedule appointments, or a shop you can walk into and admire her flash on the walls, but she does have wi-fi. “Having total control of my website has been super important to me,” Inoue explains. “There is no middle man, no fussing with code, no reliance on anyone else. I can update it at any point in time, and as a person who travels full time, that is pretty invaluable to me.”
A selection of Inoue's striking traditional tattoo work. From www.marinainoue.com/
Roughly 11 years ago, long before she chose to become a tattooing vagabond, Inoue started out at Brooklyn’s Flyrite Tattoo. It is there that she developed her take on traditional tattoos. Often working with either black and grey or muted colors, Inoue’s updated version of classic motifs look instantly vintage, as if the tattoo had always been there. Drawing inspiration from the American West and times gone by, Inoue is clearly in touch with the past artistically.
But we live in a more complicated world and a tattooer needs to make use of the technology at hand not just to create a following, but to make a living. “Being a tattooer is a business,” Inoue says. “It's not a fine art, it's a trade. I feel that it is important to be able to have a rapport with customers, to promote yourself and your work, and continue down a forward moving career path.”
There is a fine line that a modern tattooer has to walk between getting their work out there and marketing themselves to the point that the work doesn’t matter anymore, and Inoue has had to find the way to navigate that balance. “In the end, I do believe that substance is more important than appearance, and the former will always be more respected than the latter by the people who matter.”
A website created with Squarespace allows Inoue an element of control over how she is perceived that can’t be established via other forms of social media. “Everyone has a short attention span, with the constant influx of content that flows through social media,” Inoue says. “With the way Instagram works by photos not being in a timeline, I feel like a lot of my posts get lost. I do find it important to have a website with travel dates, so that people who are seeking me out in particular can find that information online.” There is no algorithm controlling what a potential client will see on a Squarespace site, there are no established standards about what can be shown — an artist has the freedom to create.
Time is one thing that Inoue doesn’t have a lot of. Whether she is on the road in between guest spots and conventions, or diligently painting new flash and preparing to tattoo her next piece of art, Inoue doesn’t have time to endlessly fiddle with a difficult website. It’s a cliche, but time is money, and the tools Squarespace provides make maintaining her own website a breeze, which is exactly what Inoue needs. “For my own website, the ability to update it easily, and an attractive, but simple, template is important,” Inoue says.
There is an endlessly inspiring world out there to be experienced, the amount of inspiration an artist can find is virtually endless. But you can’t do that when you’re stuck behind a computer screen trying to make sure your business doesn’t fall apart. Squarespace lets artists like Inoue focus on the important things — the adventures that inspire and the creations that come from them. “I've had a website through Squarespace for years. It's easy, attractive, and affordable,” Inoue continues. “It's nice to be in control of your own site — DIY is cool. Go out there and get it.”
This article has been created in partnership with Squarespace.
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