Tattoo Art has been around for as long as humans could remember. Anthropologists have found mummified bodies that bore tattoos as old as 5000 years old. Likely older tattoos were used even earlier. Like art, tattoos vary in style and subject matter. The purpose for it can vary from ceremonial, status, decorative, to sentimental remembrance. Yet they all have one thing in common, It is visual and the skin is the canvas. A Tattoo by itself is art, but because you are the canvas it has become something personal and it is a part of you.
Like art, the style and subject matter can be as diverse as one’s imagination. From a silly memento of a portrait of a cartoon character to an intricate picture to a symbol to a pattern to phrase to a simple word, but they are all visual. There is no other art form that is more personal than a tattoo. The only caveat is that if you are a collector, you are limited to your body, and like are it can be displayed in public, or kept in private akin to a private collector.
As a picture can be done with a brush, pencil, pastel or charcoal, so can a tattoo be done with a steel needle, bamboo stick, Jaccard bottle 1 or syringe 2. Each of these tools is used by the tattoo artist to create the visual effect he desires. Using 4 of the basic techniques. Think of it like types of “strokes”. the artist will use one or a combination of lettering, lining, coloring, and shading. Each of these strokes can be elaborated with different fonts for lining designs. The color and shading can be used to bring shapes and pictures to life.
Inspired and Expressed, but Not I the Hand
As this form of art is so personal, it may be one of the best examples of each picture, symbol or word on the body that has a meaning, a story behind it. It empowers and gives remembrance to the wearer, it can evoke curiosity, fear, or awe to the observer. The tattoo offers a perfect median to not only give meaning to the art but also bring out the insight to both the wearer and observer to contemplate the purpose of each tattoo. It is one of the few art forms where the creator of the art rarely is the artist.
The conception and the design is generally commissioned by the client to the person that is doing the tattooing. It could be done to the self, but in most cases, it is done by a “tattoo artist”. As much as these artists are skilled and creative, most of the tattoos are a result of a commercial transaction. It is an interpretation of the order-taking of what the client wants. So how can this be art?
As in commercial art commissioned for hotels and cooperation’s, the artist is told what to do, but just like art, there are instances of free reign on an open canvas as there are some willing to let the tattoo artist do as he pleases. Both have their own merits, but ultimately it is the end result of what emotions and inspiration these tattoos being out. Philosophically anything that can inspire to move a person can be art and what does a better job of personal enlightenment than a tattoo that is a constant reminder to the owner of a personal story. Tattoos can be a replication of what is admired most by the wearer. In a strange way, it is the person as a whole that becomes the art as this person is the canvas.
Pride and Prejudice
It is without a doubt that art in all its form is the most prolific medium to express something deeply personal or send a social statement. Music, songs, poetry, photography, literature all have a way of doing this, but tattoos offer something that is more. It is a banner that can always be waving where cultures have used it to show status, allegiance, or deeds. In itself, it can be benign, but there is not without stigma. Good or bad, there is no denying, a tattoo used in a certain way holds power.
Power to influence the people around them. As beautiful as the artwork is, in Japan and Russia, the tattoos reveal and show the world who that person is and could be used to intimidate people. In a metaphysical way, a person could also tattoo runes or symbols on themselves to gain powers to the mystic world of other dimensions, planes, and even heaven and hell.
Now is always Now
In the end, whether there is a direct or indirect meaning to the tattoo each person wears, it conveys a personal meaning that they can connect with. In the end, and is this not the goal of any form of art? The connection they may feel from wearing, showing or empowering them offers all the essence of Escrita Com Luz. To many, a tattoo is a milestone for what they have done or a goalpost to what they aspire to do, and in doing so does it not inspire and enlighten them with wisdom and motivation to reach it. In reality, tattoos have always been art. It is an art form that will always be Modern because the person themselves is the conduit to the world. It is as modern as it can get as a person living now is the canvas, and it is a canvas that is always getting updated by new memories to put on, new milestones, and new inspirations.
When it Ends
The embodiment of Modern Art maybe how current it is to the time. and as much as tattoos are current, there is a sad philosophical truth to its existence. Unlike other medians of canvas, stone steel and clay, the art itself is the person, and one must come to the realization, that that person will one day pass on, with that person the art itself must go. In a way maybe it is for this reason tattoos are the most modern art form as it can only be appreciated in a lifetime.