The Guild – Keeps on Going – A Chat With Co-Founder Ben Shaw


If you haven’t been with us on a Wednesday night – the second week of the month yet, you ought to make May 13th the first time for that! That’s right folks, we are inviting you on down to the Tractor Brewing Wells Park Beer Farm to experience an art event like never before. What is that art event, you might ask. Well, that art event just so happens to be Art Fusion For A Cause. We caught up with one of the brain instigators of Art Fusion For A Cause lately, Mr. Ben Shaw, and talked about art in our community, and how that relates to his community of artists – tattoo artists, to be more specific. We hope you enjoy this installment of #Funk from the Tractor Blog. Cheers.

We started with the most basic of questions for Ben Shaw, Co-Owner of Archetype Tattoo and Co-Founder of the Guild of Ethical Tattooists, which is the hosting party for Art Fusion. For starters we asked, what exactly is Art Fusion For A Cause? “Art fusion is multiple artists collaborating and creating unique pieces of artwork. We do it to benefit our local community by raffling and or selling off each unique picture and giving all the proceeds to a local charity, aka “the cause.” It is also a great space, place and time for diverse individuals with similar interests to hang out and share ideas, aspirations and visions,” said Shaw. We’ve seen it. We love it when all these artists come together and share art, ideas, and space. Over the last few months, what started as solely a show supported by tattoo artists, has branched out and started to involve and include visual artists of all disciplines, truly a testament to the idea of community helping community. We were thinking about this a bit and it prompted our next question for Mr. Shaw.

We asked Ben, why do you as a tattoo artist have interest in things other than tattooing? “I am interested in community and unity within it. I am a military brat and have never had a hometown. I have lived in Albuquerque now for over a decade, and have set my roots down deep. I want to see this city and state flourish, and I am trying to do it in the only way I know how, through tattooing and all the facets involved: business, politics, the actual craft. We are truly becoming an economic benefit to our community,” said Shaw. His excitement was and is palpable when he talks about “The Guild,” and what this group is doing to make themselves seen in Albuquerque. Perhaps his efforts to make tattoo artists visible as “productive members of their community,” is because of the stereotype tattooed folks often confront. It makes sense, if the community recognizes the industry artists and shop owners taking a step toward improving this city of ours, then perhaps the pre-conceived notions and stereotypes become less. When asked about the form and function of The Guild, Shaw had a lot to say – in short, he offered up these points in regards to who and what The Guild is.

“The Guild is the answer to the problem our industry faces in regards to ethics, licensing, regulation and politics. We educate our community, fellow body artists, and even kids in local schools about what is required to be a licensed body artists. Steering the youth from body art until adulthood and others away from unlicensed practices. We have made huge strides working to be an associate of the state regulatory boards and commissions. We are a liaison between the industry and state, making sure that the body artist know what is required of them for licensure, while simultaneously educating the state about the intricacies of these ancient and prestigious crafts.(tattooing, body piercing-scarification). We look to continue to unify the tattoo shop community. Sharing with artists the mindset of mutual respect and cooperation. All the while perpetuating a positive persona of those participating in body art through our community activism and charity events,” said Shaw. Wow – that seems pretty cool, right? We think so.

We also think it is cool that the second Wednesday every month you can watch artists from all over Albuquerque, who are members of the The Guild of Ethical Tattooists, come in and create art LIVE. The pieces of live art become part of a raffle, and everybody wins: artists, audience, and local non-profits in need. We waxed poetic a bit about the benefits a group like The Guild could bring to a community like Albuquerque. Shaw said, “So far New Mexico is number two in childhood hunger, number two in violent crimes per capita. Why not be number one in body art community activism? We have the potential to break down barriers and old stigmas, to bring unique and different individuals and organizations together for the common good! There is no longer an isolated demographic of body art collectors, it has spread across the board. With this mutually accepted form of expression, we can inspire different communities to consolidate efforts and work to resolve some of our glaring issues. Tattoo shops are constantly cooperating to do tattoo charity events that benefit all sorts of righteous causes in NM. Why not a state wide collaborative that has the potential to end issues like childhood hunger? Getting the different demographics of tattoo collectors to pitch in too, we could have state wide events generating millions for these issues, even eradicating them!” We say “why not?” to that as well, Mr. Shaw – and support the efforts of the Guild of Ethical Tattooists and Art Fusion For A Cause – see you ALL May 13th for another installment – for INFO ON THE EVENT CLICK THIS LINK.
When you join us and The Guild at the event on May 13th, make sure you go around and shake some hands – in their first year, The Guild: formed, hosted community events, and organized in the efforts to successfully pass SB275, a Bill to separate the Boards of Cosmetology and Body Art from one another; yet another push to move the industry forward – congrats y’all!