About tattoos

tattoos“A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition.” — V. Vale

We are born and then we die. And in between we do something that is called living.

But that is not enough.

We need others to know that we have lived.

“I was here.”

Among all the other billion creatures just like you.

We create art, we make babies, we build empires of all sorts.

“I was here,” we shout to the world.

We want to be apart of this world, to feel accepted by others, but we also want to stand out.

And I think tattoos are just that. A certain way of telling others that we are just as human as they are, that we have a story to tell.

Truth be told, we all have a certain vision about how our bodies should look like. Some people want tattoos to express that ideal.

You know that terrible cliche: “Don’t judge a book by its cover?”

Well, I think that in a certain way we know that the vast majority of people will only judge us based on appearances alone, thus we try to fill the gap between who we appear to be and who we really are.

Having the story of who you are, what you enjoy most, what you love or hate or fear scribbled on your body is a way of filling the gap.

It’s a shortcut for those who really want to know us.

A testimony, if you will, to the fact that we are just as real as they.

That we have lived a significant life on between the moment of our birth and the moment of death.

And there’s nothing more beautiful than that.


7 thoughts on “About tattoos

  1. very good topic and great observation. lots of tattoos are filled with vernacular that could never be translated in conversation re identity.
    one thing I have noticed though … it feels more and more that tattoos are a plea to denote difference and uniqueness, while simultaneously emphasizing contemporary cultural homogeneity. this might sound like a contradictory observation, but that is because it is just that. at least among the more recent flood of body art we have seen.

  2. Can I say that not all body art is great, most is but not all. Now if we can find a way past the body art to connect to the person and have a way in to get to know them what tales they could tell. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, they’re never as scary as they appear and beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Tattoos are only one form of body art, there are so many others. Everyone has a tale to tell about their body, if they’ve modified it chances are they will tell you why.

    • It used to be that you DID NOT ask about body art because it was defined by marginalized groups like the Hells Angels. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would ask a 1%r what each symbol/sign stood in signification of something not necessarily legal.
      As for the contemporary tattoo or modification, there seems to be less about the story of ones experience and more about the projection of identity into a culture that has become ever more difficult to assert uniqueness into. I think what you mean by saying “everyone has a tale to tell about their body” is referring to this, but I’m not sure.
      Many ppl don’t have a tale that they would ever want to be known about their body. Or in other cases, the story is one of pain – a battlefield in a war to take back what disease or genetics took from them.
      In the later case, it’s uncommon to mark the very thing you have fought to take control of. It’s natural “healthy” state is the #art that conveys the spoils of victory.

      • As I said, most but not all. Not everyone with a tale to tell gets body art to depict it. Not everyone with body art is telling the truth. I have one tattoo and that depicts only what I want to share. Yes, maybe the 1%r won’t talk about his tattoos outside his chapter. As tattoo becomes normalised doesn’t it detract from the effect? If it becomes normal does that negate the reasoning behind it?

  3. Yes!!! You can say that not all art is great. Ha ha!!
    Theoretically speaking, when content and form do not congeal in their efforts to communicate a concept or experience then we don’t even call it “art”. At least that’s what my years of theoretical studies and subsequent teaching would suggest – but that’s more to develop differences when trying to understand closed sets of movements in the history of art and the artists who made the (successful) art.

    Maybe my question would be this:

    Do we really call body modification #art?
    that might be somewhat rhetorical, but in its more recent definitions, #art has been much more associated with the ephemeral, which I think you are touching on here.
    it’s a permanent document on a temporary human (wether a tattoo or any other modification). I think that’s pretty interesting since we think of ourselves as being so permanent…

    I’m thinking about permanent tattoos on temporary skin now …
    ha ha …
    maybe the launch of a new conceptual art project.

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