On a visit to the Centre des Métiers d’Art de la Polynésie française on 23 October this year, the French minister for national and third-level education, and research Ms. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem announced that she was in favour of creating a CAP in tattooing (French equivalent of an NVQ). For Tatouage & Partage, this is a complete turnaround on the government’s behalf regarding the absence of formal training in the tattooing industry and related issues. Read on for more info...
This autumn, Ms. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem visited Pape’ete, the French Polynesian capital on Tahiti island. When invited to the French Polynesian centre for arts and crafts (CMAPF), a state entity created in 1980 to provide training for young people in oceanic art and Polynesian visual arts, the minister announced her will to provide equal recognition for the diplomas awarded at this centre as they are currently only recognised in French Polynesia.
But the French education and research minister under Manuel Valls’s government elaborated even further, saying that she was “enthusiastic about and in favour of" approving four new CAPs in sculpturing, engraving, braiding and tattooing.
A CAP in tattooing? Few before her would have dared try such a thing, and for good reason. The CAP (French equivalent of an NVQ) is a French professional post-secondary school qualification for certain trades and was set up in 1911. This qualification is feared by some professionals in the tattooing industry. Most of those in opposition originate from the French tattooing union, SNAT, who sees the CAP as a natural path for expelled students to take, for the want of anything better. SNAT also sees it as a factory producing trained tattoo artists stripped of all creativity. Last but not least, they foresee the development of franchised studio chains becoming the standard due to the arrival of thousands of qualified artists onto the market.
Critics have often wanted to make Tatouage & Partage a mascot for the CAP in tattooing. We’ve stood firmly against this in a video from 2014 (go to 9:14):
Our association has never been in favour of a CAP in tattooing, especially a mandatory one. On the contrary, we are still campaigning towards a diploma for tattoo artists.
Most those opposed to a diploma in tattoo artistry fear, like SNAT, that there would be too many tattoo artists, there’d be so many that it would ruin the profession. At Tatouage & Partage, we think this is just covering up an utterly illogical mindset.
To those who think a diploma would cause a rupture in the number of tattooists in France and a decrease in tattooing quality, Tatouage & Partage would like to firmly assure them that no, in fact the complete opposite would happen. Why? Because the current lack of official status for tattoo artists is what’s causing the increase in unprofessional artists. Officially, the tattooing profession doesn't even exist and as such, anyone can do it!
The only current requirement to become a tattoo artist in France is to take a 21-hour health and safety course. For around €400-800, anyone can become a tattoo artist. With proper status and a national diploma, tattooing in France would be more quality rather than quantity-oriented.
Like we’ve been saying repeatedly from the beginning, Tatouage & Partage would like a diploma recognised by the state and that would allow each apprentice to learn from a qualified artist. This would mean a limited number of artists would join the market each year, less or equal to the number of already qualified artists. Our association is totally against any propositions for private schools or bought diplomas now more than ever.
As a non-political association, Tatouage & Partage reached out to Ms. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem’s department to discuss some apprenticeship, craftsmanship, mentoring, and craft trade issues, like we did recently with INMA and its chairman. Our aim? To keep on informing the industry of developments surrounding the diploma and means of justifying the tattooing profession (see our article on What if 90% of tattoo artists were at risk?) and to keep on working with various professional representatives and the government to truly define the tattooing profession. While between 10 and 15,000 tattoos are done everyday in France, the State doesn’t pay much attention to the importance of tattooing in our country. It’s up to us, those involved in tattooing and associations, to guide the government towards giving our profession better recognition, no matter what their political background.