Humans are a strange breed. We do all sorts of weird things and we have created an incredible catalogue of art throughout our existence. Tattooing is an example of our art, and it is a cross cultural phenomenon. Throughout history tattoos have been used to show group membership, class membership, and they have been used for spiritual and religious purposes. Now tattoos are everywhere you look. Your barber has Sailor Jerry tattooed on his wrist, the IT guy has the initials of his family members on his rib cage, and maybe even your parents have some faded ink from back in the day.
There are a lot of reasons people are drawn to tattoos, and the increased accessibility to tattoo artists these days has enabled more people to get tattoos than in years past, which has helped to increase the size and breadth of tattoo culture worldwide. As tattoo art changes and evolves, more people are drawn in and more people are participating. More people are realizing that tattoos are a legitimate art form. People love art, and being able to display it on your body is a way to express your identity or show something that you personally connect with. Life story, values, beliefs and personal connection are the crux of tattoo art. It can be seen especially with tattoos that commemorate a loved one. Like how parents sometimes get tattoos of their children’s names or faces, and when a person dies, friends and family may honor their memory with a tattoo. People also get tattoos that commemorate a special memory from their own lives, such as a time they achieved a great success, or a serendipitous moment that changed the course of their lives.
We are also drawn to tattoos because they tell stories and we can discuss their meaning. The story behind a tattoo is a great conversation starter. I once asked a guy about his tattoo of a rat wearing a gas mask, and that kicked off a long conversation which led to a lasting friendship. Exposing a piece of who you are to the world is not exactly an open invitation to a conversation, but it certainly helps lubricate social interaction. I still keep in contact with the guy who has the tattoo of a rat wearing a gas mask, and that shows the power of tattoo art. For more stories about tattoos, check out the Books and DVDs section of the Painful Pleasures website.
Additionally, some of us are drawn to tattoos because we love the pain. We simply enjoy the feeling of a needle digging into our skin, and we enjoy going to the parlor to share that experience with the tattoo artist because it creates a special bond. Not everyone who gets a tattoo is a masochist, but there are certainly some people who love the rush that comes from a painful tattoo session. It also serves as an indicator of toughness, and who doesn’t want to feel tough? Though even if you are a tough guy or gal, you’ll want to invest in some aftercare products to help the healing process and to keep the colors vivid and bright. Find some great aftercare products in our Tattoo Aftercare section.
Overall, people love tattoos because they allows us to express a unique aspect of our personality with a beautiful piece of art that we can carry around for the rest of our lives. They allow us to connect with other people who have similar tattoos or experiences, and they allow us to commemorate special people, memories, and events from our lives. They bring us just the right amount of pain, and they connect us to the long running human tradition of using skin as a canvas so that we can put on an extraordinary display.