Art is subjective but everyone likes to look at something. Impression pieces, still life’s, statues, glass art and so many other genres of design exist because humans crave beauty. If you buy a painting that you simply must have today, and despise it in 5 years you can sell it, donate it or dispose of it in any way you choose fairly simply. What about art you can’t get rid of? What about a tattoo?
Roughly 14% of all the people in North America have at least one tattoo. That is a staggering amount of permanence. Yes, you can have a tattoo “removed” but instead of a colored in picture being there you will have a scar in the shape of that picture- so essentially a colorless tattoo. No longer are tattoos reserved for prisoners, gang members and bikers. Women and businessmen make up 70% of the tattooed population in North America.
Tattoos originated as tribal art. Badges of honor to set apart warriors and people of significance. Tattoos took on a bad rep when the communists unfortunately began using them to mark concentration camp detainees. After that it became edgy and sort of counterculture to be tattooed. Prisoners get them in prison from make shift and dangerous “needles” composed of pen parts which jam pen ink under the skin to denote various affiliations and religious beliefs. Gang members all don the same allegiance or logo to whatever gang they pledge loyalty to. A teardrop tattoo signifies a kill for the wearer. All pejorative connotations.
The negativity of tattoos starter to change in the 90’s when they started to become a little more mainstream. Perhaps the idea of emblazoning a logo, name or image for life was the ultimate show of loyalty and could done in a positive light. Rebellion in inked images on a bicep was the new black. Now, in 2011, tattoos are so mainstream they are on what appears to be even the most conservative professionals, clergy and military. A tattoo on a forearm does not strike fear in all who see it, instead it has become quite accepted.
A tattoo is administered by shoving pigment in a nontoxic base medium under the skin by use of a group of needles attached to an apparatus called an “iron” or “machine” by the professionals. The “inks” float towards the top of the skin a few days after the initial embedding which is the time where the tattoo “settles” and finally leaves behind a flat and colorful scar in the shape of whatever your heart desires and virtually any color you can conjure up. There are even inks that will glow under black light, and ones invisible until a black light illuminates them.
The “real estate” with which a tattoo is placed is limited. We cannot grow extra skin so if you decide to ink your back with a scene from the Titanic, that is about 10% of your body that cannot be re-inked. Of course there are cover ups. However a cover up is limited to the original shape and color of the tattoo- nothing covers black and a cover-up is a re-scarring of the original scar so it is difficult to make it as “nice” as the first one.
Tattoos do hurt. It’s an injury to the skin. Oddly to almost every person I know who has one the pain is not bad enough to prevent the second and subsequent additional tattoos. I have heard more than one person say they actually crave the pain of a tattoo.
So how do you decide what it is you want on your body forever? There are dozens of pictures in a tattoo parlor on the walls called “flash”. These are the most common images people get tattooed. Letters, hearts, pin ups, flags etc. If you want something custom you can draw it yourself or ask the artist to do so for a fee.
A tattoo artist will tattoo your face if you really want it there but a good artist will do whatever they can to talk you out of that. In the UK if you have a facial tattoo you are considered unemployable. Eyelids, tongues, fingers, palms, soles, lips and basically anywhere you can think of is tattooed on someone somewhere. I recently saw a picture of a man who had hi eyeball tattooed. That is either certifiable lunacy or real commitment to a design choice.
Most tattoos are meaningful to the owner. Some are the result of a night of too much alcohol and false brevity. It isn’t cheap to get one either. The average price for a tattoo in the USA is $75/hour. If you seek a famous artist the prices can spike to $1000 an hour. When you see someone with “sleeved” arms or an entire back piece know that they either are good friends with a tattoo artist, an artist him/herself or spent a small fortune on the art.
Of course some tattoos go bad. So many people have tattoos of their spouses who later cheat or leave them, names they end up despising and images that later take on a different meaning to them. Sometimes the artist messes up beyond repair. There is the case of the Notre Dame football player who wanted “Fighting Irish” across his back and his less than observant artist tattooed “Fighting Irish” instead. In a case like that there is little to do but suffer the pain of laser removal, which will leave a whitish outline of the original mistake. A portrait of a loved one can be a constant reminder of a mistake if the picture is not done right.
If you ever decide to permanently scar yourself make very sure the picture is something you can live with; the person doing the job is sober and professional and especially clean. It is with great caution you should allow a non-medical professional place several thousand tiny needle sticks into your flesh. If you already have one take good care of it! Keep it from getting too much sun, injury or burn. Like any art it can get weathered, fade and morph into a blob of color or black inked mess. Too much detail or incorrect ink depth can cause issues down the road as well. The average tattoo is pristine for about 10 years. Many people find they need to recolor the area after that. Re-scarring the design is painful. It can perk up a faded tattoo but the amount of times that can be done is quite limited. Maybe getting your first tattoo at 18 is not the best idea?
The most common brand tattoo is that of the Harley Davidson logo. It helps that bikers for years were the most significant demographic of the tattoo world, but Harley remains the most tattooed logo to date. Superman’s “S”, the Batman symbol, and the American flag follow in logo popularity.
OnTarget can help the business world get to know your company logo. Stop by www.OnTargetPartners.com and check out our business solutions to see what we can do for your company.
-Debra Bertolino Waring is a Social Media Coordinator for OnTarget Partners.