Significance of Tattoos


In the past, tattoos were commonly thought of as trashy or bad. One would often relate them to bikers, rock and heavy metal stars, pirates, or gangsters. That has considerably changed over the years. According to Swan, “In 2003 approximately 40 million Americans reported to have at least one tattoo.” Today's culture is still fascinated with tattooing. In the 1990s, tattoos were the sixth fastest growing retail behind the Internet, paging services, computer and cell phone services. 28% of adult’s ages 30-39 were tattooed and that number rose to 36 percent in the 25-29 age group. 31% of the gay, lesbian and bisexual population, regardless of age, was inked as well. Tattoos are significant because they represent and symbolize different things to many people.
Erika Aldama. (2007, Febuary 8). The History of Permanent Trend. Retrieved January 13, 2008

The word tattoo is said to have two major origins- from the Polynesian word ‘ta’ which means striking something and the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ which means ‘to mark something’. The history of tattoo began over 5000 years ago. Many past cultures included tattoos in their tradition. Tattoos were used for different reasons such as communicating among spies, for criminals and slaves to be marked, culture, religious and ceremonial, or social status.

The first permanent tattoo shop in New York City was settled up in 1846 and began a tradition by tattooing military servicemen from both sides of the civil war. Samuel O'reilly invented the electric tattooing machine in 1891. O'Reilly's machine was based on the rotary technology of the electric engraving device invented by Thomas Edison. Modern tattoo machines use electromagnetic coils. The first coil machine was invented by Thomas Riley in London, 1891 using a single coil. The first twin coil machine, the predecessor of the modern configuration, was invented by Alfred Charles, in 1899.The birthplace of the American style tattoo was Chatham Square in New York City. Tattooing had little respect in American culture. Design boom. (2007). A Brief History of Tattoos. Retrieved January 14, 2008, from
http://www.designboom.com/history/tattoo_history.html

In the late 1960s, the attitude towards tattooing changed. Much credit can be given to Lyle Tuttle. He is charming and interesting and knows how to use the media. He tattooed celebrities, mostly women. Magazines and television went to Lyle to get information about this ancient art form. Lyle Tuttle (born 1931) is a well-known American tattoo artist and historian of the medium, who has been tattooing since 1949. He was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, after having tattooed Janis Joplin and several other notable musicians and celebrities of the time.
Lyle Tuttle. (2007, June 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 14, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lyle_Tuttle&oldid=140156691

When deciding what type of tattoo to get, a person may want to go into the shop and look around first to make sure that it is clean and safe. Make sure that they use sterilized equipment. Then one can look at his or her “flash” tattoos. These are tattoos that the artist has designed or have placed on individuals. If the customer has a design in mind, they can talk to the artist to see if they can draw one especially for them. Sometimes they will design a tattoo that the customer wants exactly, or they might not be able to come up with what they want. If that is the case, the customer can always look on the internet or in books. Usually the individual will want something unique that no one else would have that expresses them.

The most common method of tattooing in modern times is the electric tattoo machine, which inserts ink into the skin via a group of needles that are soldered onto a bar, which is attached to an oscillating unit. The unit rapidly and repeatedly drives the needles in and out of the skin, usually 80 to 150 times a second. This modern procedure is ordinarily sanitary. The needles are single-use needles that come packaged individually. The tattoo artist must wash his or her hands, and the area that will be tattooed. Gloves must be worn at all times and the wound must be wiped frequently with a wet disposable towel of some kind.
Prices for this service vary widely, globally and locally, depending on the complexity of the tattoo, the skill and expertise of the artist, the attitude of the customer, the costs of running a business, the economics of supply and demand etc. The time it takes to get a tattoo depends on the size and complexity. A small one of simple design might take 15 minutes, whereas an elaborate sleeve tattoo or back piece requires multiple sessions of several hours each.
Several people are afraid to get tattoos because of needles or the sight of blood. In reality the needle only goes into the skin about 1/16 of an inch. This causes very little harm to the skin which in turn produces little or no blood. In the process of the getting a tattoo, the tattooist continuously wipes the area of blood, so that it is done in a clean and professional manner. When a person is drinking alcohol, or taking blood thinners during the tattoo process this is the only time he or she may tend to bleed profusely. Karen Hudson. “How much do they really hurt?” 2007 http://tattoo.about.com/cs/pafterabvneck/a/090103.htm (December 14, 2007).

Tattoos can be very painful depending on the person. Each person’s tolerance level is different. Tattoos are painful if placed in areas near the bone. Usually the best place to get a tattoo is where there is a lot of flesh. Here are some places and the pain areas…

Most Painful Areas:
Men - Abdomen, Spine, Chest
Women - Ankle, Spine, Ribcage

Least Painful Areas:
Men - Buttocks, Arm, Back
Women - Abdomen, Buttocks, Thigh, Shoulder
Karen Hudson. “Choosing Your Tattoo Design and Where to Put It”.2007 http://tattoo.about.com/cs/beginners/a/blwhatwhere.htm (December 14, 2007)

After an individual receives a tattoo he or she has to make sure to keep it clean. It is normal to see redness or a little blood directly after the process. The artist will clean the tattoo and place a bandage over it. They will instruct the customer to use ointment such as cocoa butter, lanolin or A&D for a couple days then switching to lotion. It is recommended to stay out of the sun to keep the tattoo from fading. One will need to look for signs of infection such as

Increased pain
Increased redness
Red streaks coming from the tattoo
Warmth around the area
Pus or cloudy fluid
A bad odor
Fever
Swollen lymph nodes

Love To Know. (2007). Inking and Skin Infections. Retrieved December 14, 2007 from
http://tattoos.lovetoknow.com/Inking_and_Skin_Infections

Infections that could be transmitted via the use of unsterilized tattoo equipment include surface infections of the skin, herpes simplex virus, tetanus, staph, fungal infections, some forms of hepatitis, and HIV. No person in the United States is reported to have contracted HIV via a commercially-applied tattooing process. Allergic reactions to tattoo pigments are uncommon except for certain brands of red and green. People who are sensitive or allergic to certain metals may react to pigments in the skin with swelling and/or itching, and/or oozing of clear fluid called sebum. If one should notice any of these signs one must go to the doctor immediately to be treated before it causes real damage. Tattoo. (2008, January 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 14, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoos

When the tattoo is finished and healed, it will have beautiful colors and details. Several people are satisfied with the outcome. Usually it symbolizes an event in their life, so the tattoo is important and is meaningful. If the tattoo is unique, the artist may want to take a picture to add to their book. This way they can show it to other customers.

People get tattoos for several reasons. For example, my tattoo represents my children, who I cherish and was also a major event that happened in my life. A tattooist has a fish to represent her astrological sign. An office worker has a sacred heart for her religious beliefs. A daycare provider has a butterfly to symbolize the beauty of life. A prison guard has a Latin phrase to remind him of mortality. A salesperson displays a ying yang to symbolize his unborn children. Some people get tattoos to show that they are now an adult and are able to make choices on their own. An individual might get a tattoo in remembrance or honor of someone who has passed away. A tattoo is a permanent and often personal reminder of a memory or a part of their history.

Religious tattoos such as a cross or praying hands symbolize Christianity. Spiritual tattoos were some of the first body art to come about. Tattoos are an art and they represent life. It is important for people to express themselves. Anna Swan states, “That the tattoo business has grown significantly in the last 10 years (2006).” It is reported that 85% of people who received tattoos do not regret them (Hemingson 2007). A person might regret the place that the tattoo was put on their body, but most commonly names of ex loves are the number one regret. The ink fading in the tattoo is also a reason that tattoos are regretted.

Tattoos are significant because they represent and symbolize different things to many people. Body art is becoming a very important part of today’s culture. The tattoo process is time-consuming and takes many steps before the tattoo is finished, but in the end it is worth it. Usually people are very happy with the outcome and will tend to get other tattoos later. Some say that tattoos are addicting. They are because people want to find more designs to express themselves.

References

Erika Aldama. (2007, February 8). The History of Permanent Trend. Retrieved January 13, 2008, from http://media.www.thetraveleronline.com/media/storage/paper688/news/2007/02/08/LifeStyle/Tattoos-2706864-page2.shtml

Designboom. (2007). A Brief History of Tattoos. Retrieved January 14, 2008, from
http://www.designboom.com/history/tattoo_history.html

Karen Hudson. “Choosing Your Tattoo Design and Where to Put It”.2007 http://tattoo.about.com/cs/beginners/a/blwhatwhere.htm (December 14, 2007)

Karen Hudson. “How much do they really hurt?” 2007 http://tattoo.about.com/cs/pafterabvneck/a/090103.htm (December 14, 2007).

Love To Know. (2007). Inking and Skin Infections. Retrieved December 14, 2007 from http://tattoos.lovetoknow.com/Inking_and_Skin_Infections

Tattoo.(2008, January 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 14, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoos

Lyle Tuttle. (2007, June 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 14, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lyle_Tuttle&oldid=140156691

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