Friday, 8 March 2019

Trending Tattoos

Trending Tattoos

Many people miss the bygone days when tattooing was underground and somewhat akin to the days of Prohibition. You needed an introduction for a tattooist to see you. Tattoo magazines were few and far between, shuffled in among porn mags on the newsstands,  tattooing were even more rare. Getting tattooed meant something then—you had to really want it to jump through the necessary
hoops. To become a tattooist was even more complicated and often required a nearly unendurable apprenticeship.

As tattooing has gained in popularity, accessibility has increased. Not only are more people getting tattooed, but also more people are interested in becoming tattooists, and information and equipment are readily available. In the glut of newly anointed tattooists, there are those whose skill level could be considered subpar, but the scores of truly dedicated tattooists who utilize the available wealth of information to the fullest outnumber them by far. There are more tattooists doing high-caliber work now than ever. Which made my task that much harder.

How does one narrow down the seemingly endless list of talented tattooists? What separates a technically skilled tattooist from one who has both skill and vision? With the goal of including a wide variety of styles, instead of rehashing currently popular themes in tattooing, the entire globe served as a source of inspiration for this article; the human construct of international borders disappeared. Preconceptions disappeared as well,  took on a life of its own. It developed organically as I worked off of a wish list, and tattooists I interviewed recommended others, often unknown to me, until a wildly divergent yet simultaneously linked group of tattooists was brought together. A group that represents the diversity in tattooing today—tattooists from different countries and cultures, working in different styles and with different attitudes and philosophies regarding their work.

There are tattooists who see their profession as a trade like any other, while others consider it a fine art. Some work solely in the medium of ink on skin, while for others tattooing is just one of many artistic media they use to express their creativity. There are those who recognize the sociological or anthropological value of tattooing and utilize it to strengthen their communities or to ensure the continuity of centuries old traditions.

There are those who prefer to stay within the confines of tattoo traditions and those who push the proverbial envelope.

I discovered that these two themes—tradition and innovation—kept recurring throughout my research. Many of the tattooists I interviewed expressed strong convictions regarding tradition and/or innovation, and I realized that most could be placed into one category or the other, regardless of how they approached their work. Recognizing these themes, and paying close attention to how they were addressed, brought up questions pertaining to the development of tattooing as a whole. Is stylistic innovation necessary for the progress of tattooing? Must traditional tattooing styles be practiced in the way they have been for centuries, or is change important to keep them alive?

This sincerity is a common thread throughout the article, as is inspiration. Inside you’ll find stories of people who have stood up to adversity in order to achieve their goals and those who turned their backs on financial or material success in order to find true happiness. You’ll find tales of disappointment transformed into hope and recounts of personal journeys. You’ll find humor and, at times, a touch of sadness. But most of all, you’ll find strength and inspiration all held together with fine lines of ink indelibly etched in skin.

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