Tattoos & Storytelling
I am no expert in Tattooing nor am I going to give you a lecture on the topic either. It all started with Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich and an interview he gave to a local TV in Atlanta. What triggered my curiosity was an answer to a question on tattoos in particular. When asked why he did not have any tattoos in an industry where most artists nowadays display various ink drawings on their skin on a large scale, he simply answered because he did not need it to.
I love the simplicity of his reply, I love the fact that he is strong enough not to follow the herd and that he is able to take a stand on his own ability to resist mimetism. Because lets face it, wearing a tattoo nowadays is almost as original as a sales man wearing a suit.
Historically it's true that it has not always been like that, a quick glance at Wikipedia will provide a few useful quick facts about tattooing. Anything from the first tattoo found on an iceman ( I guess he was also a nice man :-)) who lived 3300BC to the sacred meanings of tribal tattoos on Polynesian Islands or New Zealand before becoming popular enough in the US in the 1860s and finally has been part of the mainstream fashion industry in the western world for the last 20 years.
I came across my first two tattoos when I was a kid, the son of her neighbour of mine enrolled in the French navy and when he came back from his first assignment I remember he proudly exhibited a neat and superbly designed tattoo on his forearm. Not an anchor like Popeye but I remember it was unusual enough to fascinate me to the point of obsession. The second one was a number encrusted in my grandfather skin, I think it was just below his right wrist. When I dared once to ask him what it was, he answered me very simply that this was a WW2 German camp Prisoner identifier that had been brutally applied on his skin.
A story of difference, deviance or a form of expression it seems that the debate is raging a bit today on whether on not tattoos are still a statement or merely a fashion item. On the latter its interesting to note that its no longer exclusive to any particular social background, people from any segment of the society or gender have embraced the art of tattooing by wearing up to ten of them and sometimes more. It has also become an addiction for a few.
Personally I think the whole thing has become a bit of a hipster trend recently and in the last 10 years in particular. Don't get me wrong I think some are beautifully executed but it appears that having a tattoo has become the norm at the moment. I am one of the few I know who don't seem to have succumbed or fallen into the mould.
A few reasons I can think of maybe. I have already a few visible scars and I don't really need to add any fancy statement to an already very raw life experiences display. I don't really need to project my story in a cryptic way for all to see either. I could add with irony or sarcasm that not being Polynesian could also account for not being overly receptive to become an ink recipient.
In the end its just my observation and only my two cents on what is finally a very unimportant topic. Who knows maybe future sociologists will debate in 100 years from now on the what, why, when. Our descendants will take a look at this with fascination. Was it shallow tribal regression, collective behaviour patterns, back to roots, survival expression, art , democratisation, individualism and empowerment or just simply the good old storytelling?
By the way , you guys have a tattoo ? :-)
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Written Material Copyright 2018 -Pascal Derrien-
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