Have you ever wondered where the word tattoo came from? How did we discover that poking ink into our skin could create beautiful pieces of art?
Tattoos have been around for thousands of years, gradually transforming into the modern artworks we see on people today.
Tattoos have fought stigmas along the way, but recently they've become much more common and loved by almost everyone.
From the different types of tattoo styles to facts about tattoos that you probably didn't know, we'll guide you through the fascinating world of tattooing.
What is a Tattoo?
Tattoos are a form of permanent body art. The design is made by piercing the skin with a needle and injecting the tattoo ink into the deep layers of the skin. In the past, tattoos were done by hand. That is, the tattoo artist pricks the skin with a needle and injects the ink with his hands. While this process is still used in some parts of the world, professional tattoo artists use a Tattoo Machine. The tattoo pen powers the needle up and down as the ink is deposited on the skin. Despite its simplicity, asking “What is a tattoo?” can lead to many different answers.
With ink and needles, tattoos leave permanent marks on the skin. A design is revealed under the new layer of skin once the ink is deposited into the second layer, known as the dermis.
Tattoos in Society
Over the course of history, tattoos have become increasingly accepted.
Tattoos began as a symbol of status in ancient times, evolved into a highly stigmatized mark of a criminal, and now are an amazing way to express oneself.
"Tattoos are for criminals and lower classes"
As a result of the negative stigma attached to tattoos in China and Japan, Yakuza members and criminals were often identified with forehead tattoos.
It became widely believed that tattoos were associated with sailors and the lower class.
In the west, sailors who traveled from port to port spread awareness and interest in tattoos.
During the Civil War, Hildebrandt mostly tattooed members of the military and sailors.
This led to the military becoming the first group in the US to accept tattoos widely, and they still do so today.
The tattoo as a symbol of women's liberation
While society was somewhat more accepting of tattoos at this point, it was only extended to men.
In the past, and still today, gender has played a large role in the acceptance and perception of tattoos.
It was extremely rare for women to get tattoos in the 1800s without written permission from their husbands or fathers.
During the 1900s, women began fighting for equality and feminism became popular. A number of stereotypes were challenged, pants were worn, and hair was shaved.
Tattoos became a way for women to regain control over their bodies.
On the ankle or lower back, these designs are delicate and feminine, like butterflies, flowers, or hearts.
A rise in tattoo culture: the influence of "Miami Ink"
What led tattoos to break through the barriers and become mainstream?
The trend can be traced mostly back to 2005 when Miami Ink first aired in the USA.
Millions of people saw for the first time what the inside of a tattoo parlor looked like through this show.
In Miami, tattoo artists showcased incredible works of art, and people came from all over to be tattooed.
Tattoo artists became celebrities because of this show, which aired in 160 countries.
Tattoos in the Workplace
Tattoos have always faced an uphill battle professionally.
Most businesses still have a policy that tattoos should not be visible, especially in the workplace.
There is still an outdated perception that the public does not want to see body modifications like tattoos and piercings, despite many modern businesses allowing them.
Similarly, society's perception of tattoos will evolve as the internet and technology around tattooing evolve.
Public perceptions and business policies will also change as tattoos become less marginalized and more commonplace.
Tattoos and Social Media
Tattoos have also made great strides in society thanks to social media.
Instagram and Twitter have become places for tattoo artists to share their work instantly, creating a cascade effect of others sharing their own tattoos, and so on.
It became a place for people to share new designs and styles through social media.
When it comes to getting a new tattoo, most people turn to the internet and social media for inspiration.
Tattoos are often associated with an important person, place, or memory in people's lives.
Ink on their skin is a memorial of something special or a reminder of a challenge they once overcame.
It is not always necessary for tattoos to have meanings behind them.
Some people just like the design and want it tattooed on their bodies, and that's perfectly fine.
A tattoo with a meaningful story behind it is always a great conversation starter. In any case, it doesn't make your tattoo any less justified if you don't.
Tattoos have been around for thousands of years, dating back to the very first humans.
Tattoos have a fascinating, inspiring, and sometimes disturbing history, which makes them all the more fascinating.
In addition to their meanings and symbols, tattoo machine and styles have changed over time.
There is one thing that will never change, however, and that is people's love of tattoos.