Tattoo enthusiasts know that once you get your first one, you’re already planning the next.
Some people even document their whole life on their body like a visual journal.
From rock stars to rappers, from teenage girls with butterflies to gang members with a tat for every kill, from soldiers with their unit sign to hippies who are all about peace and love, tattoos are everywhere. in fact, tattooing has become one of the fastest growing retail businesses in America. Amazingly, the fastest growing demographic group to join the tattoo frenzy is middle-class suburban women. Today, tattoos are recognized as an art form and a way for one to express his individualism.
So where did tattoos originate and how did it become so trendy in modern times?
Body Art: A History
The art of tattooing is believed to be as old as mankind, as there is evidence of primitive tattoos for religious and tribal purposes. This first forms of tattoos involved self-inflicted flesh wounds packed with dirt or ash in order to leave a permanent imprint. This practice was done mainly for the purpose of marking tribe members or to signify sacrifice to the Gods.
In later times, ink art was spread worldwide by the Egyptian Empire, as they would Tattoo the dead in belief that this would help release the spirits from within.
As time passed, tattooing could be found in all corners of the world. In ancient Japan and China, tattoos and branding were used to mark criminals. In the Balkans, the Thracians aristocrats used body art to show their status. Although the Romans and Goths fought merciless wars and held little in common, they both used branding to mark their slaves and criminals. Furthermore, tattoos were used as clan markings for the Maori of New Zealand and the native tribes of the Americas. These cultures also used tattoos to symbolize rites of passage, good luck and love charms.
Entering the modern era, tattooing has been historically popular with sailors and the military. There are many different tattoos that symbolize a safe passage home after a long period at sea. Also, many different tattoos are used to symbolize the amount of miles and countries that the sailor has traveled. In addition, tattoos have become common practice among soldiers ever since the American Civil War, as they vary from signs of luck and victory to unit signs and patriotic symbols.
The Modern Art of Body Ink
Although the use of tattoos has been recorded since ancient times, tattooing for the sole purpose of art did not become popular until the 1960’s and 1970’s as technology allowed the tattoo artists to train with new colors, shapes and techniques. Throughout the late 20th century and entering the 21st century, as self-awareness, individualism and liberalism grew, so did the popularity of body art as a way to express oneself. Influenced by sports and music icons, actors and fashion moguls, the art of tattoos has found its appeal to the masses, shattering any stereotypes or stigmas of the practice along the way.
As this art form continues to evolve and expand, the only thing left to ask is – what and where will your next tattoo be?