Tattoos are now a commonly accepted form of self-expression in all strata of modern society. People of all ages and from all walks of life are finding their own special meaning in tattoos. Tattoos are done between friends sharing common bonds, by people making significant milestones and achievements, and by individuals expressing their own uniqueness.
The concept and art of tattooing has existed throughout the centuries, tattooing is modern in its form only in the tools and designs used. Recorded in Ancient Egypt around 2000 B.C. Mummies have been uncovered with evidence of line and dot patterns having been tattooed on their bodies.
Beyond Egypt, tattoo art was popular in Japan and other Asian cultures. From 300 B.C. – 300 A.D., men in Japan and China decorated their faces and bodies to ward off large serpents and evil forces and spirits. The variations and size of the tattoos differed according to the societal position and rank of the individual.
First offenses were marked with a line across the forehead. A second crime was marked by adding an arch. A third offense was marked by another line. Together these marks formed the Japanese character for “dog”. It appears this was the original “Three strikes you’re out” law.
In other parts of the world, tattooing was reserved to the elitist culture. People are often amazed to note that royalty such as King George V, Grand Duke Alexis of Russia and King Harold bore tattoos. At one time, tattooing was an expensive art form, out of reach to the common people. Tattoo artists were revered as highly as canvas artists.
In early American history, the tattoo was still an art form for the elite. Native Americans were well known for their tattoos and many European Americans began to see tattooing differently with the elite of Europe showing tattoos.
In 1891, Samuel O’Riely patented the first electric tattooing machine. It was based on Edison’s electric pen which punctured paper with a needle point. The electric tattoo machine allowed anyone to obtain a reasonably priced and readily available tattoo. As the average person could easily get a tattoo, the upper classes turned away from it.
The popularity of the tattoo remained with the military during World War II. Sailors and soldiers bore their allegiances to their country and their women with body art. They bore the names of their units, ships and divisions proudly. Tattoo shops were located on docks and near military bases and tattooing flourished.
Another transformation in tattooing history came with the Hippie movement. Before and during these times, people were having peace signs, yin-yang and other symbols of the era tattooed on their bodies. Flower power was permanently placed as body art and proudly displayed. After the Hippie movement many of the tattooed held prominent jobs within the common society. No longer were tattoos for the deviants.
Today, tattooing has reached a new popularity. Current artists combine the tradition of tattooing with their personal style to create unique and phenomenal body art. No longer just for the elite and no longer associated only with the deviants of society, tattooing has reached its own level of individuality, as unique as the tattoo artist and the client