Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.
…said G.K. Chesterton, a poet and philosopher, also know as the “Prince of Paradox”.
And we decided to draw that line on our body and make a statement. Or just art.
Either way, tattoos have evolved from being an act of resistance to another form of contemporary art.
While I was doing research I stumbled upon a gazillion articles, filled with stats about whether or not boys like inked girls, whether or not piercings are attractive, whether it’s sexy or not…
If that does not infuriate you, we need to talk.
If you care about whether other people will find your body-art amusing or not, is like eating a meal that you find extremely satisfying but not actually enjoying it because someone else does not like it.
But let’s take things from the beginning.
Tattoos and piercings may have a pretty punk reputation but at the same time they have always been a symbol of social status, not necessarily the way that you’d think…
In Victorian times, women used to have tattoo tea-parties, it-girl exclusive, you-can’t-sit-with-us kind of thing, and that was the hip thing to do at the time.
Naughty, naughty, British upper class!
Elaborate Tattoos were found on a 3,000-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy, and Thracian women were depicted with “sleeve” tattoos on their arms in Greek vases from the 5th century BC. So, it’s definitely not a new concept, what’s new is the way we perceive them through the years as they become more and more mainstream to the point where 40% of the global population has a tattoo or a piercing of some sort.
What is mainstream?
Well, something that has entered the middle class and is generally accepted as common and ordinary, if you ask me. Today, on an Instagram-driven trend-setting society, there is such a thing as an ‘ear selfie’ hashtag, to show off your bling. And somehow Givenchy managed to popularize the septum ring in 2015. Can you think of a friend who does not have any tattoos or piercings at all? That’s mainstream.
And now, as it turns out that more women than men have gotten inked and/or pierced, we are starting to think what that means to women and if it is linked to our determination to equality, rejecting stereotypes and embracing the fact that beauty is inexplicably respective.
I’ve picked the brain of a couple of selected female tattoo artists and gals who work in the industry to enlighten us on the phenomenon:
The director of Victoria Road Tattoo in Cambridge explained why tatts have such an enduring significance when it comes to women:
“There are many reasons why people have tattoos ... Including females it can be for memories, for cosmetic reasons, for symbolic moments in their life’s etc. and yes some are just a fashionable thing to have at that time and girls want to look pretty or alternative beautiful.” Said Della.
“Tattoos don’t need to have reasons either sometimes it’s just an appreciation of art. Many tattoo styles have history and traditions and not everyone is aware of the symbolic meanings in tattoos so it’s good to do research. As for myself my tattoos have made me appreciate more my body shape and skin, and I love a hot day where I can show off my ink.”
I asked Della to share something that she learned from working in the industry, something that possibly had an impact on her, regarding how women perceive body art.
“As a director and receptionist my advice to others considering getting a tattoo, is that if they are looking for something unique then start with themselves before they look for ideas on google think about what is in your homes that you love , precious objects, pictures , memories or if they have a talent a dream career... That can all make the start of some interesting tattoos ideas... additionally always consider the size and placement as most people will eventually wish they had got their tattoo bigger later or plan extending it. So deciding a theme at the start will help big designs flow more easily on the eye. Ultimately at the end of the day get the tattoos you want.
You alone will live with it forever.”
I think Della made an excellent point here.
Female tattoos can be incredibly empowering and as long as you are doing it for yourself it will make you feel confident and beautiful. You, are the one that will live with those tattoos so your opinion is the only one that actually matters.
Then, I’ve asked Mimoza Tattooz what’s her fave type of client, and what would she advise our youngest readers, thinking of having their first tattooz.
“Firstly, it's a great honor to be chosen as someone's tattoo artist and to create a unique piece for them.” Said Mimoza Tattooz
“Therefore I’m grateful to anyone who has chosen me for what I do.
I really enjoy working with women which is usually the case due to the femininity of my work.
Apart from that, I’m fond of anyone who comes to me with a clear idea, who are conscious about it and ready for the whole experience.
People who can trust me and give me the freedom to realize their ideas according to my aesthetic standards and inspiration.
People who respect me as an artist and take my ideas under consideration, who do not simply want me to execute something that they saw on the internet or expect me to draw exactly what they have in mind.
I really appreciate clients with original ideas, which fit my style but can also push me out of my limits.
Or to put it simply, being open towards communicating on many levels, guarantees an easy going, fun experience but is also a requirement to create a beautiful result that satisfies both.
Communication is the most important factor, because after all we are all humans and if the connection is made we can create great things.”
As for our youngest readers thinking of having their first tattoos?
“Go for it!” she says.
“But be thoughtful about it. You are young and you're probably going to change your mind about a lot of things, so choose wisely.
It's a good idea to start with something not so big, to familiarize yourself with the pain and the actual concept of changing yourself for life.
Especially if your tattoo is visible, it will be something that defines you.
Expressing yourself might be something you're really into, but if you go too far with your statements you might be annoyed by all the questions that will follow or the judgement and discrimination.
Respect yourself and your future self.
Choose an artist whose work speaks to you, someone you can trust (hygiene is also an important issue).
Don't go for cheap tattoos, most of the times you will need to rework it or worst case scenario that might not even be possible.
It’s not a big deal to save up some more money and have quality work done on you and will stay vivid for as long as possible.”
I could not agree more with Mimoza Tattooz, it is very important to respect yourself and your future self as well and be prepared to spend a little more money to get the best results possible.
Little Bits & my Personal Opinions
-TINTING YOUR SKIN DOES NOT TAINT YOUR PERSONALITY-
-There is no age appropriateness. Why would we define ourselves chronologically when we can simply skip that and chose personal comfort overall?
-As for emotional connection, I think it depends on the individual. Some people like having a story told on their body, personal values in ink. Some choose to reinvent their scars and turn them into something positive while others, like myself, find them simply decorative adornments, no justifications needed. In any case tattoos and piercing can be a source of joy, an undoubtedly unique way of expressing ourselves, temporary or classic, big or small, as long as they reflect your taste and you do it just for you!
- Choose your artist wisely. Communicate your ideas and allow them to guide you through the decision process. Their experience will be valuable and in the end you will have the absolute control no matter what.
- Are you making the right aesthetic choice? Avoid trends and fashions. Don’t google “piercing trends” or “cool tattoo ideas” because no matter how cool the idea, it won’t be yours after all.
- Size does not matter. Tiny tattoos can be as striking as massive ones. Follow the curves of your body and see what makes sense to you. Same goes for piercings.
I personally love gold and I love all-things-symmetry. So having a gold lip ring, in the middle of my bottom lip, made perfect sense
- Visibility. Take your dream workplace into consideration and my words with a grain of salt. To me visible tattoos are my soft spot. I love sleeves, I love hand tattoos, I like them where I can see them, because if I can’t see them where is all the fun? And rest assured it’s not showing off, it’s simply the pure pleasure of having something beautiful to look at.
- Will it hurt? It might cause a slight discomfort but it’s a very small price to pay for art.
- Tattoos and piercings will not harden your appearance. You can be as feminine and sophisticated as you wish regardless. They will not define you, unless you want them to!
Our cover is the lovely Della Spencer, photographed by Gareth Millar.
Special Thank You’s to Victoria Road Tattoo for working with me to create this post.
Until the next one,