This archived article was written by: Chase Dâ€™Ambrosio
Hate them or love them, tattoos have developed into a distinct part of our culture making it hard for those who oppose them to ignore their significance. Whether it is an act of spontaneous rebellion or personal self expression, tattoos are worldwide art forms which are forcibly becoming more and more accepted.
Although many people oppose the idea of tattoos; millions of people walk the streets allowing their history, character, thoughts and beliefs to be shared with the world by using this form of self expression.
The history behind tattoos is an interesting and somewhat vague one, known to be as “diverse as the people who wear them.” The word tattoo was derived from the Tahitian word “tatue” which means “to mark something,” (www.designboom.com/history/tattoo_history.html) even though the Tahitians were not the first-known culture to partake in the art of tattooing. It is not certain which culture discovered tattooing, but the earliest form of tattooing has arguably been dated back as far as 12000 BC (www.powerverbs.com/tattooyou/history.html).
Although most ancient cultures used tattooing in their rituals and traditions, their exact reasoning for tattooing varies. Some ancient cultures used tattoos to distinguish people in power from those placed in a lower status. Some cultures permanently mark the bodies of their prisoners or slaves so there would be no confusion as to the role that they played in their society. Tattoos were also a way for women in ancient cultures to exhibit their martial status and to display their significance to their society.
The Polynesian and Pacific Island cultures had the most historical and spiritual significance behind their tattoos. The Polynesian tribes presented their tribal rank and position through their tattoos, and also believed their spiritual being was displayed through the tattoos they had acquired. Polynesian tattoos consisted of small geometrical figures, which would be slowly added to and rendered until their entire body was covered in ink.
In 1787, a French expedition visited the islands. As they got a closer look at the natives and reported that ‘the men have their thighs painted or tattooed in such a way that one would think them clothed, although they are almost naked (www.designboom.com/history/tattoo_history.html).
Even though tattoos started out as a way for cultures to differentiate the higher class from the lower class and share their religious beliefs, the art of tattooing has developed greatly since then. In today’s society it is not uncommon for people to have tattoos, and the way that people represent their tattoos can say a lot about their character.
Contemporary society is plagued with many genocidal factors, one being the heavy burden of gangs and gang violence which is plaguing our Earth. Although the gang culture in America is a deep rooted one that not many understand, tattoos allow gang members to proudly exhibit where they are from, what they represent, what they bang, and all in all … exactly who they are or think they are. Gang violence is a tragedy in itself, the self destruction of youth due to a civil war in which most members themselves sometime share no idea what they are fighting for. Contributing factors such as confusion, fear, anger, and worst of all the feeling of hopelessness, makes it easy for children to fall victim to a life of gang activity, and the worst part about it is that it is allowed to happen.
It seems as if it is easier for our society to deny and ignore such a serious problem as opposed to diagnosing it and trying to reach out to those children in need, which forces some of our youth to join gangs. The reason I elaborate so heavily on gang culture is because tattoos have become so strongly related with gangs that young children are losing their lives everyday because of it, innocent or not it’s a tragedy. Tattoos developed into one of the strongest forms of self expression in gangs, one which is so strong that people are losing their lives everyday.
Most tattoos are not gang related; however most conservative people view someone with a tattoo as a deviant or miscreant, which makes it hard for those who do have tattoos. Many people with tattoos are treated differently; they are denied jobs and opportunities just because they chose to express themselves using ink on their body instead of ink on a canvas. Tattoos do not make someone any less of a person, and if someone is closed minded enough to believe that … then they are the ones who need to check themselves.
Skin Ink, which is owned and operated by Debi Simmons, is a tattoo shop located on Main Street in Price. The atmosphere that you will find inside of the shop is unlike any you have probably ever experienced before. Everyone inside of the shop, whether it is employees or customers, are extremely open minded and enjoying life for what it is. It is not uncommon to walk inside of Skin Ink and see people hanging out; they have no real purpose to be there except having a good time. Skin Ink was started from the ground up seven years ago, and has been thriving ever since. With two employees and an owner who are just as good artists as they are people, Skin Ink has gained a reputation that any business would be proud of.
Most forms of art have depreciated as the world quickly evolves. Painting, poetry, drawing and writing, as hard as it is to say are just not what they once were; tattoos have evolved with the times and become more powerful than ever. As much as some people look down on tattoos, whether it be personal choice or whatever, it is hard to deny something that has been able to survive over 1,400 years and continues to thrive.
Tattoos are a form of personal expression that people use to state something that they need to say, but don’t know how to exhibit it in any other way. Whether it be a memorial tattoo for someone close to you that has passed away, or a little star on someone’s foot. They all have meaning, and they all are saying something that we sometimes just don’t know how to say which is … self expression is peace of mind.