Inked Up

What’s the big deal with tattoos?

For many people, the word “tattoo” brings to mind a rebellious teenager trying to defy their parent’s rules. For others, tattooing has turned into a true art form with its own history and techniques. While needles may not be your thing, some of the awesome pieces tattoo artists create may be.

History of Tattooing

According to the Smithsonian, the earliest evidence of tattoos was from 2000 BC. Many cultures have used tattooing to mark people regarding social, religious or political groups/classes or with markings of therapeutic, religious or other symbols.  PBS did a special called “Skin Stories” researching the history of Polynesian tattoos and their relevance to their respective cultures. They said that in America, the 1940s is considered “the golden age of tattooing,” due to men going into service for WWII. When the 50s rolled around, tattooing was regarded with disdain, but the technology and artistry has grown to a point where many artists are treated with much regard and respect in their art form.

Popularity of Tattoos

It’s no secret that the popularity of tattoos has grown exponentially over the past few decades, especially with TV shows like LA Ink, though some people have  interesting ideas as to why. Some people argue that the current “red-hot” popularity of tattoos is bound to end, and the cultural obsession is simply a phase. But AP found that 25 percent of Americans between 18 and 50 have at least one tattoo, so their popularity probably isn’t going away until the current generation decides to stop getting them. Unfortunately, “tattoo regret” is also skyrocketing according to the Huffington Post – which  makes sense. If more people are getting tattoos (and getting tattoos younger), the likelihood of regretting an 18-year-old decision is pretty high. Forbes also recently published an article on attitudes in the workplace regarding tattoos – and most current corporations don’t mind their employees to be inked, as long as they’re hard workers.

Tattoos as Art

A few years ago, Kate Moss admitted she had tattoos, which was shocking to both the fashion industry but the art world as well. The New York Times published an article speaking about Moss’ tattoos, and her comments about them being a type of art collection. There’s a lot of debate on whether or not tattoos should really be regarded as art. But many tattoo artists start as “flat” artists – painters or drawers who switch to skin. And some of the work, like that of Kel Tait, Xoïl, Amanda Wachob, Nazareno Tubaro and more, are undeniably beautiful. There’s been a big boom in watercolor, white ink and blacklight tattoos, and the safety and technology is advancing for those who want to use their body as a canvas.  While some tattoos may be distasteful – just like any kind of art – they are becoming more intricate, refined and interesting.


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