Today, tattoos have taken on an entirely new meaning
In some of the earliest societies, tattoos have been an integral part of culture including the Egyptians and ancient Icemen. It has been a way for people to communicate class, religious affiliation and social structure throughout their culture in a means to differentiate one’s self from others.
Today, tattoos have taken on an entirely new meaning: individuality. Just as the clothes one wears and the activities one participates in define who they are, tattoos take this to another level and create a permanent individual identity according to history professor Dr. Kay Blalock.
“Tattooing, piercings and how we dress are all forms of self-expression,” Blalock said.
Jim Honey, tattoo artist and shop manager of Iron Age Studios, has seen the trend change over the years.
According to Honey, tattooing has become a more accepted form of expression in recent years.
“Trends come and go. Some cartoon stuff was popular in the 90s and now it’s more traditional,” Honey said. “It use to be that only certain people got tattooed, it’s now more acceptable for anyone to be tattooed.”
According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of Americans ages 18-25 have had themselves tattooed while 40 percent of those ages 26-40 have tattoos.
“It’s not just bikers, or punks, or sailors, or anything like that [who are getting tattoos]. It’s everybody from a lawyer to a doctor to a soccer mom,” Honey said.
As the popularity continues to grow, the tattoos themselves have become more artistic and more intricate according to Blalock.
“I think there is still a distinction between ‘artwork’ and just a tattoo,” Blalock said. “I think it is an art, or at least it can become an art. And the wall in which that art is shown is your body.”
According to another study performed by the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of those questioned said the impact of more people getting tattoos is a turn for the worse. Blalock, who has three tattoos, said that it depends on the generation issue of the acceptance of tattoos.
“It doesn’t have to do much with one’s age, but with the acceptance of society,” Blalock said. “I think we are going to get to a point where you don’t notice it.”
With the rising numbers of tattooed individuals, Blalock said seeing someone with a tattoo will be commonplace in the coming years.
“I was in Toronto and it was funny seeing someone without a tattoo. You get to the point where the people who don’t have one are in the minority. That makes not having one [seem] off,” Blalock said.
As the designs have changed, so have the meanings behind them. According to Blalock, the thought behind the tattoo is just as important as the artwork itself.
“I think there is more to it than ‘I want to be a rebel.’ I think often they have special meanings,” Blalock said. “Some of the stuff I’ve seen is just amazing.”
For those looking to get a tattoo, Honey recommends researching into different artists and styles for the perfect tattoo.
“Research. Look at the portfolios of artists so that you know their work. You can walk into a shop and say this is what I want and they will do it, but it may not be exactly what you want. So make sure it’s the style that you want,” Honey said.