Tattoos While the oldest known tattoo was on an iceman found on the Italian-Austrian border with carbon-dating showing the iceman to be 5,200 years old (Lineberry, 2007) for many years, here in America, tattoos were only popular with sailors, soldiers, Marines, bikers and occasionally the rebellious teenager. Why were tattoos only popular with these few? Social taboos looked down on those with tattoos. However, through tattoos a person can show self expression, be self creative, and be identified with a certain belief or interest through the art, design or message.
It is for these simple reasons their popularity over the last twenty years has grown at an incredible rate, and people of all ages, sexes, ethnic groups, and social classes have begun to get tattoos. Self expression is one reason tattoos have become so popular due to the fact that an individual can make an expressive statement that will speak forever by getting a tattoo. Many young people find this as a way to express their anger or sadness. Tattoos have a way of speaking for an individual when that person doesn’t want to say anything.
It is very important that the individual knows for sure that they want a tattoo. Unless taken off by a doctor in a very costly and painful procedure, the tattoo is permanent (Maloney-Hawkins, 2004). It used to be that adults would say that getting a tattoo was a teenager’s way of being rebellious. Now, the adults are getting tattoos, also. Some of the most popular tattoos are expressions of one person’s love for another (this is called partner marking), the joy of a new baby, or special dates like anniversaries, births, and even deaths (Gustafson, 2004).
It can be said that love lasts forever, but a tattoo lasts six months longer (Tattoos as Evangelical Chic, 1998). According to tattoo artist Lisa Fasulo, there has been a significant increase in people getting the names or pictures of loved ones inked into their skin. “It’s an over the top way to show I really, really, really care about you,” says Fasulo. Adding that the feet, back, neck, and arms are the most popular place for partner marking. Many feel that a partner tattoo is more permanent than even a wedding band, since the tattoo is permanent (Gustafson, 2004).
Many that are facing middle age often get tattoos to feel young and a bit rebellious again, while others going through a divorce may get one to express their freedom. What used to be considered taboo is now common practice for many people (Maloney-Hawkins, 2004). Another popular thing to do for those who get a tattoo is to design the tattoo themselves. Tattooing allows an individual to be self creative. It is a way of customizing the body (Cupolo, 2005).
Whether their tattoo is big, bold and bright, or small, subtle and subdued, designing the tattoo makes the tattoo more meaningful to the person. Tattooing, besides the cave paintings in Lasceaux, France, is one of the earliest originations of art (Maloney-Hawkins, 2004). Many artists find making money is easier designing tattoos rather than putting paint on canvas or lead on paper. Some, like the late Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, have become cult heroes. Sailor Jerry’s creative designs made him the most well known tattoo artist to service men for over 30 years and three wars.
His sketches can be found on Ebay even today, selling for upwards of $100 or more per sketch. A recent article ranked tattooing as the sixth fastest growing retail project of the 1990s, right behind the internet, pagers, bagels, computers, and cell phones. With its popularity growing, a good tattoo artist can actually make a decent living designing tattoos for others (Cupolo, 2005). Also, self creative designs and styles make a person’s tattoo that much more personal. Tattoos also allow a person to be identified with a certain belief or interest.
Many evangelical youth are getting tattoos to show their strong expression of faith and their permanent commitment (Tattoos as Evangelical Chic, 1998). Military tattoos are not uncommon amongst veterans. Sailor Jerry’s are very popular with service men and women. Many find themselves talking to each other after noticing a certain familiar marker on each other’s arm. Bikers tend to get tattoos that deal with Harley Davidson, a particular biker organization, such as the Hell’s Angels or the Christian Motorcycle Association, or one of the many other biker tattoos.
Athletes will often get their school logo or their number tattooed on their body. Professional working people often get a tattoo of something to do with their profession. Religious tattoos are also becoming more popular as people feel more the need to identify themselves with a certain belief, and want others to know their beliefs. With the popularity of religious tattoos it isn’t unusual to see someone with a cross, crucifix, star-of-David, praying hands, rosary, or a picture of Jesus or the Virgin Mother tattooed on their body (Maloney-Hawkins, 2004).
According to one article, more than a millennium after church authorities condemned tattooing as “a form of deviltry” that disfigures the body, evangelical youth are permanently altering their bodies with images of crosses, sacred hearts, and angels. For a small but growing subculture within Evangelical Christianity, religious tattooing is becoming an increasingly legitimate expression of individuality, identity, and faith (Tattoos as Evangelical Chic, 1998). Tattooing is not limited to only the young or middle aged.
One tattoo artist stated that he had a grandmother come in and get her grandkids and a pair of knitting needles tattooed to her arm (Gustafson, 2004). Through the growth in popularity of tattoos comes the variety of people who are getting tattooed. People from all ages, ethnic groups, and social classes have begun to get tattoos. Tattoos allow a person to be self expressive, self creative, or be identified with a certain belief or interest in a permanent way. Works Cited Cupolo, Diego. (2005, November 16). Evolution of the Tattoo. The daily Campus. Retrieved May 25, 2008 from http://media. ww. dailycampus. com. Gustafon, Krist L. (2004, August 18). Relationship tattoos surge in popularity. AZCentral. Retrieved May 24, 2008 from http://www. azcentral. com. Lineberry, Cate (2007, January 1). Tattoos: The Ancient and Mysterious History. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved May 25, 2008 from http://www. smithsonianmag. com Maloney-Hawkins, Elizabeth. (2004, September 16). Tattoos: Growing in popularity. Retrieved May 24, 2008 from http://www. mainecampus. com. Tattoos as evangelical chic. (1998, December 23). Christian Century. Retrieved May 24, 2008 from http://www. findarticles. com.