Community Efforts - To Stay, or Not Stay in Your Lane

If you haven’t heard, here in Louisville, the Peace Awards took place at the Muhammad Ali Center for the first time ever recently, and it went very well!  We were very happy to contribute our skills to the event and be present during such a special occasion for Louisville.  You may be wondering what the Peace Awards are and what it has to do with DORK Tattoo Parlor.  I’ll explain what we did, and what we think about the impact of the event, which will hopefully provide a unique perspective of DORK, LLC and DORK Tattoo Parlor.


Art as a Form of Community Building

DORK has been involved in community efforts since first landing in Louisville almost 4 years ago.  We actually moved here from Memphis, TN for that very reason.  Before DORK Tattoo Parlor was created, we taught art techniques and skills to youth at the Neighborhood House in the Portland area.  We were moving in a very positive direction in our mission statement, and for the students in our classes, this was exciting times, as they were returning for new courses and learning amazing new things.  It wasn’t an easy task, the things we taught were the basics of skills we were taught in college at an adult level.  But, nonetheless, we felt it was something that was very valuable and accesible to youth 12+ years old.


From these short Summer and Fall courses, we saw the need for broader and diverse education that included artistic skills.  These things were not being taught at the community center, (just imagine the schools)!  The center had put art lessons on the back burner, and treated it like busy work for very small kids.  For us, this was insane.  Not only have we created a career from art, it’s our lifestyle and has supported us through the hardest of times.  We were supported through tough times by the community established by creative individuals; the people that gave us hope and vice versa.  We learned this first hand in Midtown, Memphis, TN; an area that thrived off of artistic endevours and housed an amazing network of talented individuals.  Coming to Louisville, we saw three things in desperate need of creative energy:

  1. There’s a a whole population who don’t get to have any meaningful experiences with artful techniques or skills, not nessecarily becasue they don’t want to, but because it just isn’t availible.  There’s no sort of creative district, where those of us can just be ourselves and reach out to each other.  The closest thing is our beloved Bardstown Road, and that’s turned into a complete bar crawl and tourist attraction.

  2. The creative people here in Louisville are almost non-existent, closed off, or very artistically sterile.  There is a pretty big number of galleries in this city, and they all are lacking authenticity, as well as any sort of identity that reaches the youth directly.

  3. Artistic events are often created for big money making; fundraisers, business meet and greets, and etc.  While we’re glad those take place, we also have to create awareness of the smaller, more scattered events that create the atmosphere you just can’t replace; the memories you’ll never forget.  Sadly alot of small festivals and events for local artists have ended, there’s always more popping up, but will they last?  Or will they become another tourist attraction.

It’s a Lifestyle.

The Peace Awards was an amazing way to show respect and appreciation for those who have been doing positive things in Louisville for years.  Without these people, we wouldn’t know that we could actually make a difference and be recognized for it.  It’s nice to give the people, who don’t nessecarilly get a bunch of accolades from the city, a chance to be acknowledged and even admired.

As we created a banner, brochure and website cover page for the Peace Awards, we were constantly reminded of what we, as business owners and artists, should always be striving towards: building a creative community, and bringing it to the young individuals who don’t have the right set of circumstances to enjoy and contribute.  The thing about art is that it can go anywhere and reach anybody in a way that speaks to them directly.  It’s not a thing that’s reserved for a certain type of person from a certain social status.

DORK is not just a tattoo shop.  This is  the hardest thing to explain to people who think of artists as only being in one box (a painter paints, a photographer can only take photos, etc).  Many only see stark contrasted genres of artists:  the hobbiest; the ‘starving artist’ begging for oppurtunity; or the extremely successful nose-in-the-air type.  It’s an LLC (for business reasons), but it’s more importantly a lifestyle.  It was created off the sweat (and occasional tears), of artists who wanted more than anything to live a life that was their own, and to join in with people who had similar interests.  DORK Tattoo Parlor was created to give space to those who wanted to create, tattooing just so happened to be one of the main avenues of creation.  We were open to all sorts of artwork, and still are!  And if we have to teach art as a way to establish a strong community, than so be it.

A Change of View

Over the years, we’ve seen how this city treats artists and how many of the unimaginative projects are created here.  Alot of them are solely for the purpose of raising funds, and put the creators, or visionaries on the back burner.  It was very refreshing to be apart of the Peace Awards, showing respect, and at the same time seeing the need to reward people who trully deserve the acknowledgment.

Through it all, we see that often, lesser known artists aren’t recognized for their contributions to their communities.  This may be because it’s rare that we artists even want any sort of public spotlight, we just want to create and be left alone.  But that’s another topic for another post!  


As we keep putting in work at our tattoo shop and DORK, llc, we’ll always be staying true to our mission and contributing in the best way we know how…through art!

Stay tuned for more details on how the Peace Awards went, as we’re still working on that page for NMRD.  For more information on No More Red Dots (creator of the Peace Awards), visit here.

As we work with NMRD, we continue to shape and refine our project proposal about working with the youth in the arts.  As always, we’re providing the arguement of how art could be a legitimate form of employement and skill building for youth who lack oppurtunities.  For more on what we’ve done for the community in terms of art, visit here.

With Love,

Doree x DORK