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Tattoo Culture examines the rituals and social significance of tattooing in cultures around the world. The record of human history shows that tattoos have served in many various and diverse cultures as rites of passage, marks of status and rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, punishment, amulets and talisman, protection and as the marks of outcasts and convicts.




ANCIENT TATTOOS: Theories of Heaven and Earth
EROTIC TATTOOS: Manufacturing Desire (NSFW)


As tattooing increasingly enters mainstream culture, we ask:

Are the tattoos we see on the catwalks of Paris, Milan, London and New York in any way connected to the body art still to be found in the jungles and ancient civilizations of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific?

Why have tattoos been so important to their owners down through the ages?

Why are they a universal phenomenon?

And, finally, why are the traditions of tribal body art fast disappearing?

Find out all this and more in Tattoo Culture.

For the latest musings on Tattoo Culture, check in with Marisa at NeedlesAndSins.com

For up to the date information on tattoos and body art in the Media, check out Tattoos in the News.

For the history of Tattoo Culture, seek out Chuck Eldridge at TattooArchive.com.

Survival International is the worldwide movement for tribal peoples. They help tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands, and determine their own futures.

Tattoo Youth - Great pictorial spread by photographer James Macari

Tattoos in the Movies

10 Reasons the Tattoo Community Doesn't Respect Tattoo Reality TV Shows
In a league dominated by young millionaires, it is not surprising that tattoos have become prevalent among NBA athletes.

Dawn Cooke - HuffPost.com

I am speaking to you from deep within the trenches of this silent war. I reside inside of the tattoo community. I'm deep within the middle ranks of those that have lasted over 10 years in the trade. There is a war between the real traditionalists who are true to their craft and the tattoo rock and roll super star wannabes. This is more of a mentality than it is a style, per se.

What I mean is that there are those of us who love tattooing for its rich history and the purity of the art form and then there are those of us who only care about what tattooing can get them. Some of us are in it purely for the art sake others are here for an ego boost. So with that said here are the reasons the tattoo community hates reality TV, without being too obvious. Plus some great new artists I have come to know about! See the 10 reasons here

25 Worst Tattoos in NBA History
In a league dominated by young millionaires, it is not surprising that tattoos have become prevalent among NBA athletes.

Dan Favale - Bleacher Report

Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular in the NBA, as they are considered fashionable and a way for one to express himself. At what point, though, does it become overkill? more

Why Do Chefs, and Especially Butchers, Love Tattoos?
Culinary professionals are asked about the roots of tattoo culture—and why people who cut flesh are so into marking their own

Corby Kummer - The Atlantic

Q: A reader in Boston writes: What's up with chefs and tattoos? It seems I can't pass an open kitchen, or turn on a cooking TV show, without seeing tattoos, especially for butchers. Is that part of training now? A job requirement?

A: I've wondered the same thing for a long time, particularly as Boston, which you might have noticed, has two early-adopter chefs, Andy Husbands of Tremont 647 and Jamie Bissonnette, now of Coppa, who are almost as known for their tattoos as for their food.

But I really started wondering when I ran into a young woman at Jamaica Plain's gathering place for locavores, City Feed, who works as a hostess at our new Island Creek Oyster Bar (you've been, I hope? The ideal seafood bar and restaurant pre- and post-Fenway, as I wrote in my review for Boston Magazine). She introduced me to the friend she was with, who turns out to be a butcher at Whole Foods... more

Tattoos conquer modern art as needles and ink replace brushes
Once the mark of sailors and bikers, body art is now sought after by the fashion-hungry

Paul Harris - The Observer, Sunday 23 January 2011

Like other top artists, Thomas Hooper has a signature style and can charge thousands of dollars for his best pieces. His name is known around the world and clients go to great lengths to seek him out for his vision, immense skill and keen sense of artistic purpose.

But Hooper, 31, born in Bexhill-on-Sea and now the toast of New York, is neither a sculptor nor a painter, but a tattoo artist.

For many, the difference between fine art and the cutting edge of modern tattooing has now virtually disappeared. "A lot of my work is to do with our own mortality and what could be called our souls," Hooper told the Observer as he sat in his studio, New York Adorned, where rock star Lenny Kravitz and DJ Samantha Ronson have been inked. more

Extreme Makeover: Criminal Court Edition
New York Times, December 5, 2010

CLEARWATER, Fla. — When John Ditullio goes on trial on Monday, jurors will not see the large swastika tattooed on his neck. Or the crude insult tattooed on the other side of his neck. Or any of the other markings he has acquired since being jailed on charges related to a double stabbing that wounded a woman and killed a teenager in 2006.

Mr. Ditullio’s lawyer successfully argued that the tattoos could be distracting or prejudicial to the jurors, who under the law are supposed to consider only the facts presented to them. The case shows some of the challenges lawyers face when trying to get clients ready for trial — whether that means hitting the consignment shop for decent clothes for an impoverished client or telling wealthy clients to leave the bling at home. more

Mummy tattoos hint at ancient Andean acupuncture
USA Today, October 1st, 2010

Tattoos left on a 1,000-year-old Andean woman may cover acupuncture points, archeologists report.

In the current Journal of Archeological Science, a team led by Maria Anna Pabst of Austria's Medical University of Graz, "describe tattoos from two body areas of a mummy from Chiribaya Alta in Southern Peru." The team looked at the tattoos on the hands and neck of the mummy using various microscopic techniques. more

Minor Iowa Arrest Makes Headlines
Arrestee is human billboard for defunct radio station
The Smoking Gun, September 27, 2010

Meet David Jonathan Winkelman - The Iowa man, 48, was arrested Thursday night by Davenport cops on a warrant for failing to appear in court to answer a misdemeanor charge of operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, according to a jail booking sheet. But enough about Winkelman’s criminal entanglements, it’s his forehead tattoo that is worth further discussion. more

Stick to the Script:
Fonts, handwritten tattoos and the women who love them
National Post, September 24th, 2010

Think Hollywood and text tattoos, and Robert Mitchum’s Love/Hate knuckles in Night of the Hunter (and later, Cape Fear) probably come to mind, or Guy Pearce’s body memoranda in Memento. But script ink has lately become trendy with starlets off-screen.

“Fox of foxes,” Nietzsche wrote in Human, All Too Human. He was not referring to Megan Fox. But Fox’s tattoos refer to him (or, try to).

Fox, the actress known more for her va-va-voom than her acting, is a fan of Nietzsche’s. Lately she’s been showing off this text tattoo: “Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.” more

Girl Talk: Life As A Tattooed Lady
TheFrisky.com, September 20th 2010

I live in New York City, where every third person on the street has some kind of ink. So it’s easy for me to forget that tattoos often have a whole different set of connotations in that wide swath of country between the East and West coasts.

Luckily, the internet never hesitates to remind me. Since I started starring in a weekly web series, I’ve been called everything from a “tattooed longshoreman” to a “goblin.” (The goblin comment was probably unrelated to my tattoos, but it was still super mean.) And when a piece I wrote on weight loss for The Frisky ended up being featured on CNN.com, the photo featuring my tattooed arms quickly overshadowed the article’s content. more

Tattoo Industry Surprisingly Recession Proof
Huffington Post, July 6th, 2010

Coming in at #7 out 10 the tattoo industry is thriving, as the art becomes more culturally accepted and prevalent on television, in books and in malls. Costing anywhere from $50-200 per tat, inkers are cashing in on the desire to leave indelible marks. more

Science Tattoo Emporium
Discover Magazine
Blogs / The Loom

I once wondered aloud if scientists had tattoos of their science. The answer was yes, and this ever-growing collection is the evidence.


Advances in Consumer Research
Volume 25, 1998 - Pages 461-467


This article presents an ethnographic account of product symbolism and fashion imagery within a segment of the consumer culture. This segment has emerged as an effect of the tattoo Renaissance and is referred to as the New Tattoo Subculture. After developing a historical interpretation, four a priori themes are discussed (i.e., Renaissance, extended self, risk, and satisfaction/addiction). Ethnographic support was found for these themes as well as two emerging themes (i.e., design versus act and the simulated self). The article concludes by exploring the implications of tattooing for identity formation. Read the rest of the article

Young women most likely to get tattoos
The Sunday Telegraph
January 31, 2010

SAILORS and motorcycle gang members are synonymous with tattoos, but young women are now the demographic most likely to get inked.

Tattoos are commonplace on red-carpet A-listers including David and Victoria Beckham, Angelina Jolie, Rihanna, even teen star Miley Cyrus and a new survey by Australian research company UMR has found women under 30 are the group most likely to find tattoos highly attractive. About 62 per cent like tattoos on men's arms the most.

UMR managing director John Utting said young people are far more accepting of tattoos than older generations and are going under the needle in increasing numbers.

"This research confirms that parents have every right to be worried that their child will come home with a tattoo," he said. "In years gone by, tattoos were strictly for the bogan (eds note: a section of the working class demographic), sailor and criminal subcultures, but they've now escaped into the wider community." Read the rest of the article

Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa
The Fashion Press: Book Review
December 30, 2009

Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa by Hans Silvester is going to be the fashion photography book of 2010. His photos are of the Surma and Mursi tribes in East Africa. These nomadic tribes travel vast distances and bring minimal materials with them on their journeys. For this reason, most of their fashions are taken on the go, directly from nature. Primarily, Silvester's photography book begins with a short description of the tribes. This introduction describes this nomadic nature among other reasons for their natural dress and how it is developed. Silvester demonstrates their face and body painting techniques and states that, without mirrors, their painting takes on natural lines and purposefully lacks precision. No two lines are the same and none of the faces painted are created to be alike. Read the rest of the 5 star book review here

Queen Elizabeth II has to take a tattoo on the chin
December 17, 2009

Queen Elizabeth portrait with Moko tattoo on her chinA CONTROVERSIAL portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with a Maori tattoo on her chin has raised the ire of Kiwi monarchists in New Zealand.

Locals in the North Island town of Palmerston North have threatened to destroy a painting displayed in a framing store depicting a young Queen Elizabeth II with a traditional tattoo emblazoned across her lips and chin.

The artist, Barry Ross Smith, told the Manuwatu Standard it was meant to be a sensitive depiction of two cultures coming together.

But the locals aren't so sure... Read the rest of the article

Who's passage is it? Sovereignty: Aboriginals want their culture considered
CanWest News Service
November 15, 2009

Aaju Peter never imagined her chin tattoo would be the subject of a parliamentary debate about Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic.

But there she was last month, at a defence committee hearing, watching Inuit leader Paul Kaludjak as he pressed MPs to consider the views of Nunavut's aboriginal population -- and to honour the millennium of Inuit history in Canada's North -- before renaming the Northwest Passage the "Canadian Northwest Passage."

Peter's facial tattoos -- including two thin blue lines inked beneath the 49-year-old Inuk's lower lip -- represent the revival of an ancient Inuit art largely lost after European missionaries arrived in the Arctic in the 1800s and voiced disapproval of the practice.

Part of a wider reclaiming of traditional Inuit culture and identity in recent years, the tattoos have a surprising link to the Northwest Passage and to Canada's ongoing challenge to assert control over what this country considers "internal waters" but which the rest of the world -- most notably the U.S. -- sees as an "international strait."

That jurisdictional challenge prompted the proposed addition of "Canadian" to all official references to the passage.

The renaming idea, advanced as a Commons motion in early October by Conservative MP Daryl Kramp, was meant to symbolically bolster Canada's sovereignty over the shipping lanes through the country's Arctic islands.

At a time when retreating sea ice and dreams of Arctic oil riches are fuelling unprecedented global interest in the polar realm, the bid to unambiguously identify the disputed passage as a Canadian waterway quickly won expressions of support from all three opposition parties and appeared to be headed for prompt adoption in the nation's legislature.

And the tattoo? Kaludjak pointed out the passage is already known among many Inuit as "Tallurutik" -- a name derived from the tattooing ritual among Canada's Inuit and a feature on Devon Island at the eastern entrance to the passage.

"Talluq is 'a chin' in Inuktitut and tattoos on the chin on a woman were called tallurutiit. That's where the name comes from," he said.

© Copyright (c) The Province

WITH ART AS THEIR ARMOR - Cambodian soldiers believe certain tattoos can protect them from bullets and landmines, and even make them invisible.
By John Maloy - Special to GlobalPost
September 3, 2009

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Magic tattoos begin with a magic man. Typically a Buddhist monk or adjar (essentially a deacon) and known for great piety, this Khmer magic man can draw scripts and images into another's skin, granting with the person supernatural armor against all kinds of harm. Understandably, such body art became popular with soldiers.

Reut Hath is one such magic man. He first learned the art of inking magic from his father, a farmer and martial arts trainer in northwestern Cambodia who was himself a "powerful magic man," according to the 52-year-old former soldier.

"Many people came to [my father], so he gave some of the work to me," Reut Hath said. "So, I had to learn magic."

Wherever Cambodian soldiers cluster, charms and amulets abound, from cloths scrawled with protection spells to bags of Buddha figurines to boar tusks - anything to gain a magically endowed edge over the enemy. And there is perhaps no more explicit display of belief in mystical powers than magic tattoos, geometric patterns of written spells and images that crisscross the bodies of many older soldiers... Read the rest of the article

The Art and Stories of Tattoo Culture
By Nick Obourn, www.trueslant.com
August 8, 2009

Portland, Oregon has been a nexus for tattoo culture for some time. I lived there for four years, from 2002 until 2006, and in that time I got a tattoo of my own and watched many people I knew become canvases for the many tattoo artists in the city. The number of tattoo parlors nearly comes close to the density of strip clubs, which only that city could translate into an accomplishment. They have a lot of bookstores, too. But there has always been a line in the sand between tattoo culture and fine art. Tattoos are works of art; they are conceived and executed by practitioners honing their craft, yet tattoo artists are not grouped with painters or collage artists or even sculptors (another group of artist who work in three dimensions), even though very often it is the case that a tattoo artist will be a fine artist as well. This line may now be dissolving, albeit slowly.

On June 20, The Portland Art Museum began an exhibition titled Making Portland: The Art of Tattoo. The exhibition aims to develop and investigate the cultural and social implications of the tattoo in Portland. The history of the tattoo will be placed in relation to works in the museum's permanent collection, thus aligning the tattoo and fine art in one space. In many ways, this exhibition is a recognition of the work of tattoo artists. It communicates that their work, their hours toiling away on fleshy canvases should be acknowledged just as other artists more recognized by the canon. To get the community involved-and this falls along the lines of... Read the rest of the article

Is Love Skin Deep?
By Sarah Robbins, www.sfgate.com
July 16, 2009

I met the man I love on the dance floor of a Bulgarian disco in New York City. It was the beginning of December; he wore a knit cap, a black sweater. We drank beer, boogied the way we thought Bulgarians might, and shared a taxi back to Brooklyn.

A couple of weeks later, on our third date, he made me dinner at his place. By then, I was really liking what I saw: a handsome, short-haired, glasses-wearing guy who owned his own business and attended the ballet with his mom. I was admiring the way he decorated his apartment with both framed photos and living plants when suddenly his lips were on mine. Kissing him was even more warm and wonderful than I'd imagined. Then he pulled off his sweater, and something came between us... Read the rest of the article

Popularity Of Body Art Influences Reality Shows And Now Home Decor

By KORKY VANN, www.baltimoresun.com
June 26, 2009

Looking for the next hot decorating trend?

Think ink.

Body art has gone from biceps and shoulders to catwalks and showrooms. The transfer, according to tableware designer Jessica Rust, gives a whole new meaning to the term "tattoo parlor."

"Tattoos used to be associated with bikers and rockers," says Rust, who introduced her Tattoo Collection of personalized plates, mugs, bowls and platters this month. "Now they're exploding in home decor, furniture and fashion."

Inspired by the popularity of television shows "Miami Ink," "LA Ink," "Inked" and "Tattoo Highway," and the mainstream acceptance of "tats" (estimates are that as many as one in four people between the ages of 18 and 50 are tattooed), designers have introduced clothing, bedding, rugs, tables and accessories emblazoned with the iconic patterns... Read the whole story

Haute tattoos hit NYC, chardonnay included
By Jamie Rosen, Wmagazine.com
June 8, 2009

Say you want a tattoo-something tasteful, clever, a conversation piece even-but the thought of lying down in a grungy saloon on St. Marks Place makes you more lightheaded than a long needle. Now there's a place for you: the bright, spa-like Friday Jones Fifth Avenue run by self-described "couture" tattoo artist Friday Jones, located inside Senses NY Salon & Spa in the Flatiron district. Though Jones herself is, as they say, "sleeved" on both arms and once toured with the band Queens of the Stone Age, her client list is heavy on professionals, Hollywooders and social types. Jones is the one who gave Angelina Jolie a hidden Billy Bob tattoo back in the day, and she also recently inked Lydia Hearst... Read the rest of the article

Nuggets Making Their Mark in Ink
By Benjamin Hochman, The Denver Post
May 19, 2009

When it comes to body art, the Nuggets' locker room is like the Louvre. Here are some of the most meaningful tattoos for the Nuggets.

Chris "Birdman" Andersen, one would suggest, earned his wings - but, truth is, he bought them. A dude named John Slaughter, a local tattoo artist whom Andersen trusts like one of his Nuggets teammates, is responsible for the flame-colored wings under Birdman's biceps, arguably the coolest tattoos on a team coated with them... Read the rest of the article

Our tattoos, ourselves
By Jonathan Zimmerman | ChicagoTribune.com
May 17, 2009

Our daughter wants a tattoo.

Nothing big or gaudy, she assures us. And not right away, either.

She's still in high school, after all, and she knows we won't allow it.

But once she's gone, there's a good chance she'll get one. Ditto for your own daughter, or your son. According to the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of Americans aged 18 to 25 have at least one tattoo.

Like many American parents, I'm revolted at the prospect of my children coming home one day with body ink. But when I try to explain why, I fail. Every reason to oppose tattoos turns out to be, well, unreasonable... Read more

Diaspora Drawn on the Body - The global Samoan and the enduring art of 'tatau,' photographed by Mark Adams.
By Christopher Grabowski
May 15, 2009

Mark Adams has been documenting the diaspora of the Samoan people for more than a quarter century. In 1972, photographing on assignment for an Australian magazine, Adams was introduced to Sulu'ape Paulo, a traditional Samoan tattoo master or Tufuga ta tatau. He gained access to the sessions of the Pe'a, a ritual in which men are gradually covered with tatau, a dense, dark tattoo pattern stretching between the waist and the knees. The patterns vary slightly depending on the social status of the bearer. The traditional tatau is usually completed over 10 days; it is extremely painful and not without risk of health complications... Read more

A New Kind of Skin Magazine
Wed May 15, 2009

Marc Strömberg is a 22-year-old graphic designer in Ume, Sweden, and his leg is still sore. He creates record sleeves and posters for bands, and in his spare time he runs his own magazine, Tare Lugnt. Instead of publishing the latest edition in traditional paper and ink, he has had issue three entirely tattooed onto his left leg. The leg has now been photographed, and large-scale prints are due to go on display in Göteborg and Stockholm this month. Read more

Lloyd Garver: Barbie gone wild?
By Lloyd Garver
Wed May 06, 2009, 09:03 PM EDT

I've been so distracted by minor but flashy news stories this year like the NCAA Finals, the nation's finances and the new Obama administration, I missed the big story of 2009: To help celebrate Barbie's 50th birthday, Mattel came out with "Totally Stylin' Tattoo Barbie." She comes with a set of tattoos that kids can place on that iconic body. The doll also comes with a tattoo gun so children can stamp these washable stickers on themselves. Barbie with tattoos? I know what you're thinking: What's next? "Hooker Barbie?" "Pothead Barbie?" "Premarital Sex Barbie?" Read more

The Claim: Tattoos Can Increase the Risk of Skin Cancer
Published New York Times: May 4, 2009

As more and more Americans tattoo their bodies, some have wondered whether there may be a hidden risk (other than the risk of regretting the tattoo a few years down the road).

Many inks are made with metals; blue, for example, contains cobalt and aluminum, and red may contain mercury sulfide. That, along with the fact that tattooing can be traumatizing to the skin, prompted suspicion that tattoos might lead to skin cancer. Studies in recent years have documented a few cases of cancer at a tattoo site. Read more

Chinese craze for English tattoos
Global Times, April 20, 2009

Tattoos of Chinese characters have long been a fad in the West as a way of denoting the mystique of their bearers.

But in a reversal of the trend, Chinese ink parlours are reporting a sudden craze among their clients for tattoos in English.

Zhang Aiping, a tattooist at Tattoo 108 in Shanghai, said: "Around 30 per cent to 40 per cent of our customers are choosing tattoos in English letters now. This has happened really suddenly, since the beginning of this year. I just did one a few days ago for a footballer at Shanghai Shenhua club. It said: 'I miss u forever'."  Read more

Scientific and Geeky Tattoos: Are you serious?
Todd Dailey, April 07, 2009
GeekDad Blog, wired.com

How committed of a science nerd or geek are you? If you're truly hardcore then maybe you'd like to show that permanently, in ink, on your skin. We've seen in past posts on GeekDad how geeklets can give tattoos to their parents. We've even seen some GeekDad contributors who have geek tattoos of their own. (Hi Z!) Here are some of the best of geek and science tattoos out there.  Read more

Hardy Vision: Cheerleaders' tattoo taboo can't seem to rub off
Gregory Hardy, 04.2.09

This year's NCAA men's basketball tournament has been a bust in terms of games that leave indelible images. But I can draw up at least one interesting diversion to talk about.

Which would you rather see -- a 64-field bracket competition to determine the best player tattoo ... or someone who actually has this year's entire NCAA bracket tattooed on his back?

This year's game action has been forcing me to flip the remote. But in the games I do watch, I'm mesmerized by the tattoos.

The typical starting five of today seems more suited to be commemorated in an art museum than a hall of fame.

Players don't stick around campus long enough to write extensive chapters in their program's lore, but at least their tattoos tell an interesting life story:

"This one's for my grandma, rest her soul ... this one's for my brother who's in prison ... this one's for my baby, whose mama I met at a tattoo parlor ... this one is for my cousin who was shot when a fight broke out while waiting in line for a tattoo ... this one I got on buy-one-get-one-free Tattoo Appreciation Day ..."  Read more

Tattooing's King Of Creepy
Melanie Lindner, 03.26.09

He won't do unicorns, but for snakes and skulls,
tattoo artist Paul Booth charges $400 an hour.

The dungeon-like room, lit only by small fluorescent lamps above three chairs, greets the customer with piercing heavy-metal music that sends vibrations through the floor. Flickering red candles illuminate the black walls, adorned with paintings and sculptures of monsters, skulls and bleeding faces.

This isn't the set of a Nine Inch Nails' video. It's Last Rites Tattoo Theatre in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen, where Paul Booth, 41, works his black magic. Much of his portly, 5-foot, 10-inch frame is covered in black tattoos. His favorite--running from the right side of face over the top and back of his buzzed-bald head--is an abstract design sketched by his mentor Felix Leu and inked by Leu's son Filip (Felix died of cancer before he could finish the job). A hoop ring hangs from between Booth's nostrils, and dark dreadlocks dangle from his nape to his knees--an incongruous presentation, given his warm smile and easy laugh. "I just see the darker side of life," he says...  Read more

Chinese tattoos popular with western celebrities
China Daily, www.chinaview.cn
Beijing, March 26, 2009

Celebrity Chinese tattoos are indelible proof of the country's growing cultural clout, but also evidence that where body art is concerned local is global.

Dragon and Mandarin character designs are ubiquitous in the West but less visible here, where a relatively conservative attitude toward tattoos still exists - they used to be the mark of criminals.

While up to 35 percent of NBA stars have some kind of Chinese-themed motif inked into their skins, the number of Chinese sports stars or entertainers with tattoos is minimal.

Since Dennis Rodman ("Ink not mink") broke the mold in the 1990s the NBA has become so tat obsessed that Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian's unblemished skins are the exception to the rule.

Being a "bad boy" can be a positive selling point in the West, where individualism and thug culture like hip-hop is as likely to be celebrated as castigated.

Marcus Camby of the LA Clippers wears his heart on his sleeve and has the Chinese characters "strive for the clan, the family" on his right arm. Allen Iverson, one of the most decorated NBA players, in terms of tats and stats, has the character for "loyalty"...  Read more

Kat Von D, Stretching Her Canvas
The Tattoo Artist and TV Star-Author Is Thinking (and Inking) Big.
But Will It Last?
By Neely Tucker, Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 16, 2009

Kat Von D strides into a bookstore in Lutherville, Md., on a rainy and overcast afternoon, looking like the wilder side of L.A. personified: Tall, thin, tattooed, electric, rock-star gorgeous. Black tights, three-inch heels on knee-length boots, a red bikini top under a black tank. Several rings, a cross-adorned necklace that drapes to her waist, red lipstick. Tattoos? Everywhere. Dark eye shadow, brown eyes, high cheekbones, standing maybe 6 feet in the heels.

Some 500 people are jammed into the aisles. They've been waiting hours for her to sign copies of her glossy bio and book of skin ink, "High Voltage Tattoo." They're craning necks and holding up cameras...  Read more

Suicide girls get sizzling bacon 'bro' tattoos at SXSW
L.A. Times, David Sarno
March 15, 2009

Talk about bringing home the bacon. At Saturday night's Bigg Digg party at Stubb's BBQ in Austin, Texas, I ran across two young ladies from the tech world who were sporting brand-new, hot-off-the-grill bacon tattoos.

Lynn LaVallee, a.k.a. @poshy, and her friend Jessica Zollman, a.k.a. @jayzombie, in town for the South by Southwest music and media conference, consummated their roommate-ship early. The two San Francisco-based women, both Suicide Girls (that's the Web's "enlightened" erotic-photo site), are moving in together next month, and they both love bacon. Hence the decision to get their "bro tatts." ...  Read more

Barbie is reinventing herself yet again...
Sacramento, CA

The popular new doll is covered in tattoos as part of Mattel's new spring line.

"Totally Stylin' Tattoos" Barbie has some parents pretty upset.

She comes with a set of tattoo stickers, which can be placed anywhere on her body. The set also comes with a tattoo gun that's similar to a water gun. The gun allows kids to stamp tattoos on her clothes or themselves.

Mattel says the tattoos for kids are temporary and wash off.

Doll Collectors say this isn't the first time the company has pushed social limits.

A few years ago, Barbie's best friend, Midge, was pregnant. Her bell would pop out a curly baby when opened. Complaints forced store like Wal-Mart to stop selling the doll in 2002.

Despite some controversy, the new tattoo Barbie seems to be a hit and is selling out in several stores.

Mattel says it has no plans to discontinue the doll. They say it gives girls a chance to express themselves.

Americans' lasting mark on Iraq: colorful, complex tattoos
Tom A. Peter | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
March 3, 2009

Baghdad - Before US troops rolled into Iraq, Robert Eagle, an Iraqi, had seen his fair share of tattoos. There were lots of traditional Bedouin designs - simple patterns of lines and dots - and prisoners who scrawled loved ones' names using ink and a sewing needle, but nothing more complicated than this.

"These were terrible tattoos," says Mr. Eagle, who goes by the English translation of his name.

It wasn't until US forces arrived and Eagle began working alongside American and British security contractors inked with dragons, Chinese characters, and a host of other designs that he realized there existed a world of unexplored potential. Within months, he'd gotten a colorful eagle with flaming wings on his arm, the first of several tattoos.

Nearly six years into the Iraq war, the American presence has literally left its mark on the Iraqi people...  Read more

Sometimes body art, business mix, sometimes they don't
By KATY GANZ | the-daily-record.com
March 1, 2009

MILLERSBURG -- Generation Y has hit the job market. Some come ready to work, dressed in shirts, ties... and tattoos.

While some employers can ignore visible ink, others have a more traditional, "don't ask, don't tell, don't show" stance.

Nationally, Disney was known for years for a stringent dress code and policy regarding tattoos.

But, according to CollegeRecruiter.com, the company lifted its tattoo ban after facing a talent shortage.

According to a McDonald's employee handbook, no visible tattoos are allowed and a maximum of three ear piercings are allowed. Burger King's dress code is even more stringent. According to an employee handbook, no visible tattoos are allowed and only female employees are to have ear piercings. Those piercings are limited to 1-inch hoops or studs...  Read more

Gen--Yers Splash Out With Tattoos
By Eleni Hale | SundayMail Australia
February 15, 2009

STUCK on the ideal present for someone turning 21? Think ink. We're not talking about a nice pen set, according to a new survey, but a tattoo.

Getting some "body art" is seen as an ideal way to mark one's coming of age among 25 per cent of Gen-Yers - those born 1982 to 2001 - according to a new survey.

In contrast, only 5 per cent Gen Xers - those born from 1961 to 1981 - got a tattoo to mark their 21st, and only 3 per cent of the preceding Baby Boomers opted to mark the occasion permanently on their bodies.

The McCrindle Research study incorporated a survey of 1300 Australians and data collected through the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It showed a sharp contrast on how each generation viewed adulthood...  Read more here

Tattoos - More For Her Than Him
Press Release: UMR Research Ltd
February 10, 2009

About one in five adult New Zealanders have been tattooed with women more likely to get one than men and young people.

These findings are from a UMR Research survey of a nationally representative sample of 750 New Zealanders aged 18 years and over.

The survey shows that 19% of adults have been tattooed, but if you are under 30 you are far more likely to have a tattoo than any other age group. In fact, one in three adults (36%) under 30 have been tattooed.

Tattoos are more common for women too with 22% having been tattooed compared with 17% of men.

"Polynesians gave the English language the word tattoo which is derived from the Samoan word tatau, so it should be no surprise that Pacific Islanders and Maori were also far more likely to have had tattoos than others," A UMR Director, Tim Grafton, said...  Read more here

The Tattoo Archipelago
By Megan Buskey | The Nation
February 3, 2009

Historians speculate that the modern tattoo arrived in Russia in the nineteenth century care of English sailors, who mixed with Russian criminals when misbehavior got them jailed while docked in Russian ports. The English yen for tattooing can be traced to the explorer James Cook, who encountered tattoos while visiting Tahiti in 1769. Members of Cook's crew acquired tattoos as souvenirs during subsequent voyages to the South Pacific, and tattooed English sailors were soon appearing in port towns throughout Europe. By the twentieth century, artistically inclined Russian convicts were branding their prison mates regularly, using staples or syringes for needles and soot and urine for ink.  Read the whole article here

Some Tattoo Bearers Are Marked With Regret
By CLOE CABRERA | The Tampa Tribune
Published: January 21, 2009

TAMPA - Johnny Gazel had regrets before the ink set on the tattoo on his thigh.

"I knew it was a mistake the minute I saw it," says Gazel, 21, of the crude Chinese symbol created by a friend when he was 16. "The things you do when you're young. I'm not a tattoo person, and every time I look at it, I know it was a mistake. It's supposed to mean 'help' in Chinese, but who knows; it could say jerk."

On his 21st birthday, Gazel turned to Tampa Laser Touch in Westchase to have the tattoo erased. Read the whole article here

Vanishing act: Regret sends stream of customers to laser tattoo-removal clinics
By Mark Brown, Rocky Mountain News
Published: January 16, 2009

The stars all seemed to be in alignment.

She was 16, a junior in high school. It was Christmas break in Springfield, Mo. She'd just awoken with a concussion after being involved in a sledding incident with a tree at 2 a.m. the night before. A friend was an amateur tattoo artist and needed gas money to get to Kansas City, pronto. And she had $5 in her pocket.

What better time or place, then, to get a lemon-size tattoo of a fish put across her chest?

"It sounds so cliche, but you just don't know at 16, almost 17... You're not thinking about your future. You're not thinking that when you're 30 you won't want a fish on your breast," said Wendi Walker. Read the whole article here

The price of art? A piece of flesh
A number of Canadian artists are giving out their creations
to people who tattoo their work onto their bodies

Special to The Globe and Mail: December 19, 2008

Times may be tough this Christmas, but if you've got an art buff on your shopping list, here's one way to get a bargain - go out and get some ink.

If you have their artwork tattooed onto your body, a number of Canadian artists, flattered by your permanent commitment to their creation, will give you a piece of art in exchange.

Guy Bérubé, an Ottawa-based gallery owner, first found out about the tattoo-for-art trade in February through Toronto artist Daryl Vocat's website.

"Want art? Get a tattoo," wrote Mr. Vocat, explaining that he would mail a dozen screen prints of his drawings, worth $120, to anyone willing to "prove it" with a snapshot. Read the whole article here

Tattoo's last taboo
By Michelle Goodman @ NWjobs

During the past couple of years, articles about whether to hide or proudly display one's tattoos and body piercings in the workplace have become a popular addition to many media outlets covering work/life balance issues.

But yesterday, when I noticed that the Pew Research Center stat of the day stated that 36 percent of Gen Y has a tattoo and 40 percent of Gen X does, I had to wonder: Are people going to greater lengths to hide their body art in this tough job market?

Before the bottom fell out this year and employers started handing out pink slips like Altoids, the conventional wisdom was this: Work in a traditional business sector like banking, finance, or accounting, and you'd best cover up. (In other words, when in Rome...) But work for a dotcom or a smaller, more creative firm, and you'll often get more leeway with regard to body art.
Of course, there are anomalies in every business sector. It's been well documented that a certain Seattle-based coffee chain has a "no body art" policy for its workers. It's also no secret that a certain software giant based in our region doesn't have a problem with off-the-beaten-path hair colors, clothing, and body art.

Once upon a pre-recession time, if a person was committed to working for an employer that didn't require them to hide their body art, they'd seek out more accepting companies by asking folks they knew about their company's culture, spying on employees in the parking lot during summer (when tattoos are more conspicuous), and consulting a web resource like ModifiedMind, which lists the body-art policies of dozens of employers.

But with so many more people looking for work these days, are job hunters who get inked doing so in places that are easier to cover up (even in summer)? And are hopeful employees who already have body art taking greater pains to cover up, in the event that the hiring manager on the other side of the interview desk isn't tattoo or piercing friendly? I'm curious. And if you've got a story to share, either from the employee or employer side, I'd love to hear it.

Freelance writer Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide." E-mail her at ninetothrive@nwjobs.com

Body art and the recession: Are job seekers covering up more?
By James Sullivan, Globe Correspondent
Boston Globe: December 11, 2008

New Hampshire resident Dotty Jenkins doesn't mind the stares. Her hairless scalp is covered with an intricate, colorful web of tattooed images, including flowers, butterflies, and a striking pair of eyes, literally in the back of her head.

Jenkins started her tattoo collection because she has alopecia universalis, a condition that resulted in the loss of all the hair on her body several years ago. She recently won first prize in a tattoo contest sponsored by Salem's Peabody Essex Museum, in conjunction with "Body Politics," its exhibition on traditional Maori tattooing, or moko. Read the whole article here

Tattoo culture under the spotlight
By Jane Elliott, Health reporter
BBC News: October 4, 2008

David Beckham, Samantha Cameron and Amy Winehouse all share at least one thing in common aside from their fame - a tattoo.

In the past, tattoos used to be mainly a badge of belonging and were generally the preserve of armed forces personnel, bikers and tribes.

But they are now used to express individuality and can range from the small dolphin on the ankle to huge montages of a fan's favourite pop group, or even tattoos covering most of the body.
See the whole article here

Tattoos Gain Even More Visibility
NYTimes.com: September 24, 2008

WHO in the world gets a neck tattoo? A couple of years back you could have narrowed the answer to gang members, prison inmates, members of the Russian mob and the rapper Lil Wayne. Then something occurred.

In a mysterious and inexorable process that seems to transform all that is low culture into something high, permanent ink markings began creeping toward the traditional no-go zones for all kinds of people, past collar and cuffs, those twin lines of clothed demarcation that even now some tattoo artists are reluctant to cross.

Not entirely surprisingly, facial piercing followed suit.

Suddenly it is not just retro punks and hard-core rappers who look as if they've tossed over any intention of ever working a straight job.

Artists with prominent Chelsea galleries and thriving careers, practicing physicians, funeral directors, fashion models and stylists are turning up with more holes in their faces than nature provided, and all manner of marks on their throats and hands. Read the whole article here

Is Love Skin Deep?
One guy's scary body art puts his girlfriend to the test.

MarieClaire.com: By Sarah Robbins

I met the man I love on the dance floor of a Bulgarian disco in New York City. It was the beginning of December; he wore a knit cap, a black sweater. We drank beer, boogied the way we thought Bulgarians might, and shared a taxi back to Brooklyn.

A couple of weeks later, on our third date, he made me dinner at his place. By then, I was really liking what I saw: a handsome, short-haired, glasses-wearing guy who owned his own business and attended the ballet with his mom. I was admiring the way he decorated his apartment with both framed photos and living plants when suddenly his lips were on mine. Kissing him was even more warm and wonderful than I'd imagined. Then he pulled off his sweater, and something came between us.

Technically, it was someone: a tattoo on his upper left arm of a vibrant, crazy, and most unmistakably skinless man. Not a skeleton, mind you; a man with no skin - just organs, graphically rendered in sickly red, orange, and yellow swirls. I was shocked by the aggressiveness of it. He'd seemed so ... normal. Gentle, even.

"What is that?" I blurted. Read the whole article here

Show Us Your Geek Tattoos
www.wired.com - August 25, 2008. By Lewis Wallace

How deep is your commitment to geekdom?

As Wired.com's gallery of geek tattoos shows, some comics and sci-fi fans have gone all in, covering body parts with superheroes, superheroines, Battlestar Galactica icons and other cool artwork. But we still haven't seen the massive Superman chest piece that we just know is out there, hidden beneath a Clark Kent-style dress shirt.

If you've got your own geek skin art, bring it on. Read the whole article here

Bountiful Utah restricts hiring of new employees with tattoos
Reported by: Annie Cutler - August 15, 2008.

BOUNTIFUL, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Thinking of a job with the City of Bountiful? have a tattoo you can't cover up? If so, forget it. The city just approved a ban on visible tattoos for all its new employees.

Tattoos are becoming more popular and part of mainstream culture. They can be seen on all kinds of people, but you won't see them on any new Bountiful City employees.

The resolution was passed Tuesday and states, "Employees are prohibited from having any form of tattoo, branding, piercing (except for ordinary earrings for women), skin markings, or other forms of body art on the face, neck, head, and hands. Employee applicants with such items shall not be hired." More

The Breakups That Got Under My Skin
www.nytimes.com - July 27, 2008 By KERRY COHEN

IN my early 20s I had a habit of getting a tattoo after a breakup. The first was after my college love, the one boy, among many, who had stayed. He was the person I thought I would marry, if only because I couldn't imagine that someone would finally love me and then leave. I was still virginal in this way when it came to breakups.

When our relationship ended I lay on my bed, hollow and hurting, unable to cry, going over the relationship with friends. I told them all the things you believe when you've been dumped: I'll always feel this way, I'm not worth loving and no one will ever love me again.

Until one friend, surely exhausted by my relentless sorrow, suggested we get tattoos. The brother of a friend, she explained, was running a start-up tattoo business out of his dormitory room. Read the whole article here

Flesh Tones
By S. INDRAMALAR - Monday May 12, 2008

Tattoos are still the preferred form of self-expression among Malaysians who have yet to embrace extreme body modification.

THE days when tattoos belonged solely on the arms of old salts, biker dudes, felons, punk rockers or painted women have long passed. These days, if you do not spot a tattoo or a piercing, you are likely to be the odd one out, or so it seems.

Says tattoo artist and body piercer Simon David, 34: "Nowadays, tattoos have become more acceptable in society. People don't stare at you (if you have tattoos). Even the police don't give you problems. People understand that tattoos are a form of expression. It is body art and not a show of strength or anything like that."  More

The Mark of a True Science Fan?
www.newscientist.com - November 22, 2007 by Catherine Brahic

Talk about love... Bob Datta of Columbia University has tattooed his wife's initials as seen through the prism of the genetic code on his shoulder; Kirstin says "genetics stole my heart", so had a piece of the sonic hedgehog gene tattooed on her left leg (it twists all the way up to her thigh); and Julienne recently handed in her thesis on biological anthropology, and to celebrate, she had Darwin's first sketch of an evolutionary tree tattooed on her side.

These are just a few of the personal icons that scientists have chosen to have permanently etched on their flesh. There's an astonishing collection being built in this Flickr album compiled by science writer Carl Zimmer. He has had contributions from the whole gamut of scientists (check out the mathematician who can't live without Pi, and the chemists who love their chillis and drugs.)

Read the whole article here

Thai Tattoo Tradition Draws Worldwide Devotees
NPR.org Day to Day, November 13, 2007 by Scott Carney

Can a tattoo stop a bullet? Some people think so.

For centuries, Thai soldiers have covered their bodies in protective tattoos called Sak Yant. Today, the ancient ritual is booming and thousands of people - in Thailand and beyond - are flocking to master artists to have the powerful designs inked on their bodies.

The Wat Bang Phra Buddhist temple, about 30 miles west of Bangkok, is one of the most highly esteemed locations for Sak Yant. Dozens of monks and master artists, who have spend years perfecting the art, can be found there.

Read the whole article here

Horiyoshi III, Legendary Irezumi Master
PingMag, 11 Oct 2007, Written by Kevin Mcgue

This is going to be a painful excursion: On the second floor above a Chinese restaurant in a quiet shopping street in Yokohama is Horiyoshi III's studio. An artist that paints by carving into people's skin and inserting ink - the legendary Horiyoshi III is a traditional irezumi master and folks from all over the world make an appointment half a year in advance to get one of his colourful tattoos. PingMag stepped into his studio to get to know more about this ancient Japanese artform.

First, let's distinguish between the terms irezumi and tattoo: In Japan, they certainly have different meanings. "An irezumi is something that is normally hidden beneath clothing," Horiyoshi III says. "Many young people in Japan today are getting tattoos to show them off. That is very different."

Read the whole article here

Branded with Science
www.scienceblogs.com - 6 August 2007, Written by Carl Zimmer

The other day I was pondering how scientists tattoo themselves with their science. I was at a pool party where a friend, Bob Datta, had jumped into the water with his kids. Datta is a post-doc at Columbia, where he studies genes in Drosophila flies. I noticed that Bob had a tattoo of DNA on his shoulder. At first I thought it was a generic snippet of the molecule, but then Bob told me that it actually represents, in the genetic code, his wife's initials: EEE. Geek love in its noblest form...

Read the whole posting here

Tattoos Hinder Job Search, Says Vault Survey
Vault Releases Survey on Tattoo and Body Piercings in the Workplace

July 25, 2007 NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In the job search? You might want to think twice before adorning yourself with permanent body art. According to career publisher Vault.com's (www.vault.com) new Tattoo and Body Piercing Survey, 85% of survey respondents believe that tattoos and body piercings impede ones chances of finding a job.

Said one survey respondent: "Regardless of who the real person may be, stereotypes associated with piercings and tattoos can and do affect others. In general, individuals with tattoos and body piercings are often viewed as 'rougher' or 'less educated.'"

Despite such prejudice, only 16% of employers have an official company policy on tattoos and piercings. Vault found that over half of employees with tattoos and/or body piercings opt to cover up when they are at work.

Forty-two percent of those surveyed admitted to having either a tattoo and/or body piercing (besides "pierced ears"). Of that group, 40% had one or more tattoos and only 20% had one or more piercings.

Consistent with Vault's first Tattoo and Body Piercing Survey conducted in 2001, the most popular place to get a tattoo is the arm at 25%.

Vault's 2007 Tattoo and Body Piercing Survey, conducted earlier this month, is comprised of 468 responses from employees representing a variety of industries across the U.S.

The Word Made Flesh
Multnomah Bible College reverses its ban on tattoos. Christians rejoice.

BY PAIGE RICHMOND | prichmond at wweek dot com
[July 11th, 2007]

Matt Farlow's body belongs to God. The Multnomah Biblical Seminary grad student claims that all of his tattoos "glorify Christ," except for his first piece of ink: a small, now-faded lightning bolt. Since Farlow, now 33 and married with two kids, became "full-on Jesus-centered" in his 20s, he's marked his body with only religious imagery. And now that Multnomah Bible College (and its grad school, the Seminary) finally allows students to show off their body art, Farlow can display a full-sleeve tattoo of vibrant symbols depicting the Holy Trinity and the Greek name of God. ...  more

Pricked Reality - Picturebook - Women
Images pricked on human skin are rather associated with self destruction or with manliness, toughness; full-body tattoos on women generally contradict the cliché of femininity in our society. The photographer Boris Schmalenberger explored this cliché and is now presenting his new series entitled "Bilderbuch-Frauen" (picture-book women).

After Internet research, Schmalenberger visited several tattooed women in different cities throughout Germany and photographed them in large-format.

Boris Schmalenberger is showing us tattooed women as human beings who differ from others because they express their individuality explicitly through their bodies; a concept which derives from a desire that fashion has long been failing to satisfy. In contrast to his earlier works, the photographer this time surprises by his choice of a documentary-like style to concern himself once more with one of the key themes of his oeuvre: human physicality. Nevertheless, these images prove to be aesthetic constructions that surpass merely copying reality by their poetically structured compositions: Thus, the title "Bilderbuch-Frauen" (picture-book women) is explicitly to be understood literary. more...

Taboo of tattoos in the workplace
by Harry Wessel, ORLANDO SENTINEL, May 28, 2007
At Devotion Tattoo in Orlando, a police officer recently came in with his short-sleeved uniform top to make sure the tattoo he received would not extend below his clothing, reported store manager Chava Goldman. The shop on Mills Avenue tattoos a lot of professionals, she said, who work with the shop's artists to make sure their body art can be hidden on the job.... more

Karman & Malinda's Top 11 Lesbian Fashion Accessories
by Malinda Lo, Managing Editor AfterEllen.com
January 18, 2007

Before tattoos became so popular that even sorority sisters were getting them, queer girls defiantly displayed their tats as inky indicators that they were traveling into forbidden "man" territory. Tattoos of anything - from astrological signs and Goth-like florals to the tried-and-true anchor - were far more likely to be found on a lesbian than the rest of the female population. more

A Portrait of "Generation Next"
How Young People View Their Lives, Futures and Politics

Their parents may not always be pleased by what they see on those visits home: About half of Gen Nexters say they have either gotten a tattoo, dyed their hair an untraditional color, or had a body piercing in a place other than their ear lobe. The most popular are tattoos, which decorate the bodies of more than a third of these young adults.

Thirty-six percent of those ages 18 to 25, and 40 percent of those ages 26 to 40, have at least one tattoo, according to a fall 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center. more

Tattoos and Piercings Go Mainstream, but Risks Continue, NewsCenter, Northwestern University


Laumann and co-researcher Dr. Amy Derick, of the University of Chicago, found that year of birth was a predictive factor for tattoos: 36 percent of people aged 18 to 29; 24 percent of those aged 30 to 40; and only 15 percent of those aged 40 to 50 had tattoos. Sixteen percent had obtained their first tattoo before age18.

People of lower educational status were more likely to have a tattoo and also more likely to have more than one tattoo than those of higher educational status.

Drinking alcohol and using recreational drugs were related to having tattoos. Over a third of ex-drinkers and a fourth of current drinkers had tattoos, as did almost 40 percent of those who have ever used recreational drugs and 60 percent of those who have been in jail for more than three days.

Tattoos were seen in all ethnic groups but were more common among those with Hispanic ancestry than among all other ethnic groups combined. more

Tattoos are trendy but permanence is passé, thanks to laser removal
Paula Brook, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, October 16, 2006

A short history of tattoos.

12th Century B.C.: Polynesian cave dwellers carve symbols into their flesh to ward off demons.

18th Century A.D.: Captain Cook's crew get hip to mutilation on their South Pacific voyages.

Late 1960s: Janis Joplin lances the tribal barrier and gets branded in the name of rock.

1974: Cher splits from Sonny and celebrates with a big butt-erfly.

2004: Laser technology allows Cher to Turn Back Time.

Update: Two years later, Cher is still trying to turn back time at the laser studio, discovering that it takes a lot longer and can be more painful to remove tattoos than to get them. She is not alone.

Now that tattooing has crossed over from the mark of Cain to a full-blown hipster fad, with an estimated one-quarter of young North American adults thus branded, the race is on to remove, revise and rebrand. Isn't that the perfect definition of pop culture? Permanence is now officially passe and commitment only skin deep.  (read the whole article here)

Erline Andrews
Columbia News Service

When Monique Dillard dredged up the courage to get her first tattoo 14 years ago, she had two fears: that it would be intensely painful and that the colored ink would look dull on her light brown skin. Neither happened, and Dillard became addicted to getting tattooed. "It's a rush," she said. "Like sex."

As her skin art collection grew, Dillard got strange looks from fellow black students at college. Word came back to her that a few of them thought she was "trying to be white."

"I was one of the few black people, let alone black women, who had tattoos," said Dillard, 34, a cosmetologist who lives in Washington. She now has 11 boldly colored images permanently etched onto her chest, back, stomach and arms. Most of them are tributes: five panthers, in memory of dead relatives, and the numbers 1 and 4 surrounded by flames on her inner left forearm, a reminder of the street where she grew up. "I notice now a lot more African-American people are getting tattoos, especially females," she said.
(read the whole article here)

Natives embrace old tattoo designs in a nod to tradition

BARROW -- In a modern twist to an age-old practice, a few residents in this Inupiat town are sporting tattoos on chins and chests to honor ancestors and whale hunting.

One whaler wants to create a one-dimensional whale-tail necklace commemorating kills. Two women have chin markings that symbolize family and ancient traditions.

It's perhaps the latest development in an ongoing effort by Alaska Natives -- at least two Aleuts also have facial tattoos -- to revive language, dancing and art. (read the whole article here)

Tattoos and the art of tattooing in prehistoric societies
The tattoo, or moko, (its native name,) is done either with the sharp bone of a bird, or with a small chisel, called uhi. The candidate for this distinction reposes his head upon the knees of the operator, who drives the chisel into the skin with his hand. Each time, the chisel is dipped into a pigment called marahee, which is prepared by carbonizing the resin of the kauri-pine, and after each incision the blood is wiped off. The persons operated upon never allow the slightest expression of pain to escape them; and, after the inflammation has passed away, the regular and clear scars appear dark. The tattooing of the lips is the most painful part of the operation.  (see the website here)

Originally, tattooing of women in Samoa was done only on women of rank. Because of this distinction, tattooing became very popular among the youths of Samoa who considered tattoos to be a mark of their manhood.

The legends of Samoa describe how two sisters, Tilafaiga and Taema were sent from Manu'a to Fiji to visit the daughter of King Tuimanu'a. While there, they were presented with a gift from the royal family of King Tuifiti which was a tattooing instrument. While swimming home they carefully held onto their precious gift while singing a chant that the Fijians had taught them translating it into Samoan. In English, the chant would say "women are tattooed and men are not." (read the whole article here)

Samoa stamp request reveals island past of Margaret Mead, sexual freedom, tattoos, and a mellow lifestyle.
What is Samoa's claim to fame? We'll tell you. Easy living, tattoos and Margaret Mead.

Annexed by the United States in 1900, Samoa already had a lengthy history of tattoos and sexual practices that disturbed uptight Westerners. However, it took a little while for such things to get noticed. In 1722, the Dutch made a stop there, but decided that these tattoos, which descend from the waist to the ankles, were actually "artfully woven silk tights or knee breeches." Some French in 1768 thought it was paint. It took until 1787 for the expedition of Jan Francoise de la Perouse to discover that they were actually inkings. Unfortunately, La Perouse later decided to hoist an alleged Samoan thief up the mast of his ship by the man's thumbs. This led to what is called the "La Perouse Incident", wherein several of both parties were killed in a fracas. La Perouse later wrote, "I willingly abandoned to others the task of writing the uninteresting history of these barbarous people; a stay of twenty-four hours and the relation of our misfortunes has sufficed to show their atrocious manners." (read the whole article here)

This reference guide is for the students of BYU-H, as well as community members, in locating important historic, instructional, visual, and pictorial information on Pacific Island Tattooing. (see the resource page here)

The history and meaning of body art is hardly superficial
Mothers and anthropologists agree: Tattoos are forever.

While they may appear to be a contemporary rage - it's estimated 1 in 10 Americans has or has had at least one tattoo, almost 5 in 10 among Americans aged 18 to 29 - humans have in fact been adorning themselves with tattoos, piercing, paint, scars and other forms of permanent and semi-permanent ornamentation for tens of thousands of years. It's likely the late-Paleolithic cultures of 30,000 years ago did more than just paint cave walls.
(read the whole article here)

Common Pride Symbols and Their Meanings and Definitions

Know potential employment, removal costs before getting inked
Sporting a tattoo or two is no longer the taboo counterculture act it once was. But it can still present employment, health and financial concerns, experts said.

Once the exclusive domain of bikers, gangs and other rough riders, tattoos have gone mainstream with the help of TV programs such as "Miami Ink." Today, brokers and secretaries are just as likely as bartenders and street punks to have one. (read the whole article here)

NEW YORK -- Colleen Harris doesn't fit the stereotype of the buttoned-up librarian. Her arms are covered with a pirate queen motif and black scrolling tattoos, which extend down the side of her body to her ankle. A black rose and the words "Dangerous Magic" adorn the back of her left hand, and the words "Anam Cara" (old Gaelic for "soul friend") letter her knuckles.

The 27-year-old - who has multiple masters degrees and a job at the University of Kentucky's research library - feels no pressure to cover up.

"It's not really possible at this point, unless I wore gloves," Harris said, adding that she thinks academia has been more accepting of her body art than the corporate world would be. "I think my qualifications should speak for themselves." (read the whole article here)

During the early Roman Empire, slaves exported to Asia were tattooed "tax paid." Words, acronyms, sentences, and doggerel were inscribed on the bodies of slaves and convicts, both as identification and punishment. A common phrase etched on the forehead of Roman slaves was "Stop me, I'm a runaway."

A Central Queensland University study has found that people who decide to get a tattoo are not doing it to be "socially deviant", but do it to improve their appearance.

The research looked at the views of over 1,000 people aged between 18 and 82 in central and northern Queensland.

The study's author, Leeana Kent, says older studies used to associate people with tattoos with personality disorders and psychosis.

Ms Kent says that is now an outdated view and social exclusion is not the reason why people get tattoos.

"People are doing it because they want to be socially accepted rather than because they're rejecting society's norms and expectations," she said.

"However, having said that, unfortunately negative stereotypes of tattooed individuals still exists in contemporary society."

Ms Kent says she was surprised to find that men without tattoos are more influenced by what they see in the media.

"Non-tattooed males are perhaps reaching the decision to get a tattoo to improve their physical appearance," she said.

"The improvement of physical appearance was mainly associated with females, whereas now this indicates that it's also associated with males."

(from web site Boing Boing)

Mary Wohlford, 80, has "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" emblazoned on her chest. Wohlford, of Decorah Dyersville, Iowa, got the ink in February to hopefully eliminate the possibility of any Terri Schiavo-esque controversy about her medical wishes should she become unable to communicate them directly.

If all else fails, if family members can't find her living will or can't face the responsibility of ending life-sustaining measures, she said, then doctors will know her wishes by simply reading the tiny words that are tattooed over her sternum. Find out more here

A few years ago, the shoe company And 1 created an advertisement in which Latrell Sprewell said, "People say I'm America's worst nightmare; I say I'm the American dream." In the background a blues guitar plays "The Star-Spangled Banner" in imitation of Jimi Hendrix's version of the anthem (And 1 couldn't afford the rights to his version). Seth Berger, the president of the company, said that MTV created a youth market in which blacks and whites are indifferent to color: "It's a race-neutral culture that is open to endorsers and heroes that look different. These people are comfortable with tattoos and cornrows."

Actors find ways to hide tattoos when needed
Long time partners and Valley actors Andi Watson and Jason Barth say having tattoos - including her dramatic comedy and tragedy masks - has affected their theatrical careers.  Read the whole article here

In order to demonstrate their corporate loyalty, many Nike employees wear on their legs a tattoo of a swoosh.

(from web site Under the Skin)

Despite this move into the popular cultural realm, tattoos and extreme body modification do indeed remain for many marks of difference: cultural indicators of social deviance for some, a membership in a cultural group or collective for others, a rejection of mainstream western consumer culture for others still. Subcultural groups like the neo-primitives have continued, through resisting the sanitized, safe version of tattoos and by engaging in bricolage themselves, to maintain a counter-hegemonic subculture punctuated by extreme forms of body-modification. Neo-primitives value all forms of body modification less as art and more as a spiritual and ritualistic connectedness to the earth, the body and the "primitive." They exemplify the concept of the body as text. In an early 21st century world where bodies are sculpted to the ideals dictated by popular culture, the neo-primitives go to an extreme to claim dominion over their bodies in all forms.

See his website for a in depth look at why people get tattoos.

A look at cool French tattoo artist Yann and his unique style that has caused him to become one of the "it" tattoo artists in Europe. You really should check out his gallery photos for some truly original works of tattoo art. (from SFGate.com Culture Blog)

More shacking up, more visible body art, less concern for the old ways. Is America dead?

America is dead.

No really, it is. And it's not just because we've lost habeas corpus, a bedrock protective law and a cornerstone of American freedom, to the rabid, stupid dogs of neoconservative fearmongering. That merely feels like a weird horror movie, the leatherfaced guy with the chain saw hacking off the head of the sexy college girl and laughing maniacally. The pain is simply too horrific and cartoonish to even register. Yet.

No, Bush's ambling rape of the Constitution and moral law is not the true sign of social decay and devolution. There is a far worse problem lurking, lingering, sneaking up on American values like giant snakes slithering onto a plane.

The real problem is, of course, tattoos. And piercings. And also: single people who defy the institution of marriage and choose to live together in sin. And then get tattoos. Haven't you heard? (see the whole article at SFGate.com)

An exhibition at the Arizona State University Museum of Anthropology ran from March 23 to September 2006. Our technical advisor Lars Krutak was the guest curator presenting contemporary & historical photographs, rare books, engravings, postcards, tattoo instruments, documentary film & other media.

Tattoos with Asian writing is a fashion must-have, but does it symbolize cultural insensitivity?

By LYNDA LIN, Pacific Citizen Assistant Editor
Some people describe the act of plunging a needle into flesh to create a permanent tattoo as nothing short of being a divine experience. The joining of man, art and culture in one sharp point hearkens to traditional tribal tattooing rituals of the past, but the only difference is that these days, rituals are being replaced with convenience. People can now walk into nearly any tattoo shop and pick out a cultural identity of their choice and spell it out on their skin, all within 30 minutes or less. (Read the whole article)

The site of one of Borneo's best kept secrets! Prepare yourself for a journey into the past history of Sarawak and Borneo's heritage as a whole. Nine Museums are waiting for you to explore and visit. Most were built close to a century ago and yet they have remained and survived over the years. The buildings themselves are historical and today, serve as the custodian and keeper of all the historical documents and artifacts such as antiques, monuments, cultural landmarks, archaeological specimens, architectural, artistic and religious materials associated with the traditions and beliefs of the people of Sarawak and Borneo as a whole. www.museum.sarawak.gov.my

Urban Legends
Suffer to Be Beautiful
Women in childbirth with tattoos on their lower backs should not receive anesthetic via epidural injection. Read the whole story here...

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