Ben Shaw is a tattoo artist, regulation specialist, inspirational speaker, lobbyist, and industry advocate for safe tattooing and appropriate regulation from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has always loved tattooing from a young age driving him to pursue the art as a career at 20 years. Ben is so enthusiastic about body art that tattoos cover 70 percent of his body. Ben co-founded a studio, ‘Archetype Tattoo,’ in 2010, the New Mexico Guild of Ethical Tattooists, and serves as a host at Art Fusion, where he spread the word about ethical tattooing practices.
The talented tattooist is zealous about proper regulation, and he’s always glad to speak about it. Ben observes that many people within the tattoo industry exhibit apathy towards learning/partaking in ordinances and law-making, thus allowing outside entities and regulators to take advantage and misregulate body art. As a community builder, Ben mobilizes tattoo artists and supportive communities to rally together for common objectives like SB 275, where he championed a bill through the 2015 legislative sessions in NM. Ben also endorses the benefits of tattooing on the human species and advises on safe practices of healing from tattoo wounds during his public speaking.
The tattoo enthusiast’s journey has not been all rosy. He had difficulty getting tattoo artists to work together, as many tattoo artists would antagonize their local competition. He affirmed, “In the past, we had such territorial behavior such as hating on each other, disliking rival shops, and distancing ourselves. Sometimes fist fighting and otherwise trash talking.”
“Also, tattooists were initially so competitive that we didn’t communicate with each other. We walled up our interactions and gate-kept methods that just cut out any new innovative ways of doing processes, keeping our secrets to ourselves, pushing out any newcomers and stopping any new talent from entering the industry,” he added. Apart from the above-mentioned, Ben has faced further challenges. However, he is a happy man now that he has overcome all of them.
As the old saying goes, “a rising tide raises all ships,” Ben advises his colleagues in the industry to work and embrace teamwork. “This way, we all benefit. Also, times are changing, and we must adapt if we want to prosper.”
The public speaker loves to share inspirational values about tattooing that teaches a lot about life. For example, he shares that once tattooed, you must commit to it for the rest of your life and compares it to obtaining anything great you must save to it and see it all the way through. Likewise, tattoos strengthen your pain tolerance, and you get rewarded with beautifully tattooed skin at the end of a painful session.
“Life is going to be painful, and it’s going to inflict wounds upon us, but if we can get through the pain, it increases our tolerance to take more of life’s painful moments, making us stronger and more beautiful, inward and out,” asserts Ben. As a firm believer that your next level of greatness exists on the other side of fear, and you must get through it to get to it, Ben denotes that tattoos help you to overcome your fears.
In the future, Ben hopes to elevate himself and the brand to higher heights, i.e., make it to the TEDx stage, speak at prestigious tattoo conferences, and become a regulation consultant for the tattoo industry and governmental regulatory bodies.