What’s Behind Today’s Tattoo Culture?

It’s safe to say that tattoos can now be categorized as normal. Less than thirty years ago they were often considered taboo, and mostly seen on sailors, prisoners and bikers. Yet today people are commonly surprised if you’ve made it to your thirties without one. Even people who have made it to forty and beyond are more often tempted to swap their sporadic tattoo contemplations for a work of skin art.

It could be said that tattoos are taking the world by storm. You’ve undoubtedly seen one of the many TV shows based on tattooing by now; you’ve surely also noticed the number of celebrities sporting attention-grabbing masterpieces. It couldn’t be any more obvious that tattoos are the done thing, and they’re a ‘trend’ with staying power.

It all (seemingly) started with Miami Ink…

Here in the US, the show ‘Miami Ink’ was probably the catalyst for the overwhelming popularity of tattoos today. The shop’s supremely talented artists grabbed the world’s attention; so engaging was this show, it found fame far beyond the borders of the US – 160 other countries, to be precise.

Miami Ink made tattoos sexy, and it made artists and their studios cool. We all know how captivating talent is, so once this kind of work was showcased on screen, it was predictable that people wouldn’t want to wait for a piece of this action. There are now countless similar shows airing all over the world, and many tattoo artists have reached celebrity status.

As naturally follows, tattoos are literally all over social media too, and not so many industries attract more followers than this one; the tattoo industry’s popularity continues to spread faster than a forest fire, with no signs of abating; Google has reported that there are almost 150 million searches relating to tattoos every month.

Recent research tells us that 36% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 have adorned themselves with a minimum of one tattoo, which equates to over a third of the young adults here. America’s beaches are literally saturated with hot tattooed bodies – anyone would think it has become a competition! Some people will turn anything into a competition, of course, but we can probably agree that – whatever the motivation – there is some truly inspirational material out there.

Tattoos have been around way longer than you might think

Despite the more modern changes in perception of tattoos, they’re actually nothing new at all. The word ‘tattoo’ is an interesting one, and there is a clue to the history in that foreign-sounding word. It is thought to come from Polynesian and Tahitian languages – ta (strike), and tau (mark), respectively.

We may never know exactly where and when tattoos first began, but the estimates based on the findings of science say we’re looking at thousands of years. Around 25 years ago, a 5000-year-old (plus) mummy was found near the Italian/Austrian border with approximately 61 discernible tattoos all over his body. Surely this says a hell of a lot about human nature?!

This mummy wasn’t the only evidence though. It is thought that tattoos have been a normal part of the world’s different societies since societies were even a thing; but they were mainly used in rituals. So given the relatively recent prejudices around tattoos in our ‘modern’ societies, it seems that we have actually only just caught onto the status quo!

Talented tattoo artists have ready-made careers

Today, a well-done tattoo is an expression; a mark of individuality… and everyone loves to feel that they are unique. Tattoo artists are idolized for their talents and they make a fortune in the process! It’s little wonder that there are more and more of them springing up every day. If you’re a great tattoo artist, it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that you have a ready-made career carved out for you.

The same goes for henna and jagua tattoos. They have their own history, but they have a lot in common with the tattoo industry in that they have long been a part of many cultures and rituals around the world. People love to be inked, whether it is permanent or temporary!

A talented artist might choose to work with either the temporary or permanent inks, if not both. Even if your goal is to become a permanent tattoo artist, starting out with henna or jagua inks is a great way to get some practice in and can be a lucrative career choice in itself.

One thing seems clear. Body art is back, and it plans to stay. It seems that tattooing has become one of the world’s most popular endeavors, and with each tattoo we get on our skin, we’re making history.

Cultures of the future will no doubt be heavily influenced by today’s tattoo trends; it would be truly fascinating to witness the evolution of tattoos over the next few hundred years. Let’s at least give future generations something to remember. How cool would it be if our era was remembered as the one that gave tattoos a new lease of life?