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Other people want to start this hobby


Many people see the skin as a empty canvas that should be individualized. Since tattoos are permanent, picking a design and a tattoo artist is crucial. Tattooing can be a hobby in terms of getting tattoos done and also designing and applying them to others.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other tattoo resources. We have a tattoo forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with tattoo how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best tattoo books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis


Definition and History

A tattoo is a marking made by inserting dark ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment for decorative purposes.

The Tattoo as Art

In order for a tattoo to become a true work of art, the client must be completely resolved to offer up a part of his body as a canvas. Anyone who truly wants a quality tattoo will do his homework and do a lot of planning. (This is especially true of custom work, where there is not already a stencil available or where the client is adding further design to an already-existing tattoo.) Reputable tattoo artists have portfolios of their work available for customers to thumb through to ensure that their style of work is compatible with what the client has in mind. Some artists (especially beginners) are best at sticking to single-dimension stencil work, while the more advanced artists are amazingly adept at doing custom work using shadings, dimension, and on wide variety of themes.

The location of the tattoo will say a lot about its wearer. Small, modest, token tattoos on the inside of a wrist, around a ring finger, or on the chest can signify something personal to the wearer only. Those who are following a certain culture and who are a bit braver might have a simple band tattooed around their arm or ankle. But for those interested in making a work of art of their bodies, the possibilities are endless. Especially popular in the early 21st century is the complex, full-coverage work on the arms called “sleeves.” Though the work must be done in two or more sittings, the artist works with his client to customize a combination of many designs that meld together into a unique, colorful masterpiece that is meant to be worn any way but hidden. Some of the larger artwork works best when tattooed over the shoulder, upper or lower back, or on the calf of the leg. A seasoned artist will be comfortable with any suggestions or pre-printed ideas that are brought into the parlor; he will be able to make any necessary modifications or create a freehand piece to make a personalized stencil.

The range of topics for tattoos is as wide as the imagination itself. Fairies are a particularly popular subject for women, as are dragon scales, skulls, and tribal shapes for men. Native American designs are very popular in the United States. And the Japanese and Chinese continue to have a great influence on tattoo art, as well. In the Western world, the sailor’s tattoo has given way to even more “macho” designs, sometimes in the most painful of places, such as the neck, the inside of the upper arm, and the head. It is possible for entire sagas to be spelled out in ink, spilling down from neck to ankle, much as history is conveyed on the Bayeux Tapestry or the Parthenon Frieze. Women are less likely to do this but rather choose to wear graceful designs across their lower backs, calves, or feet. In many cases the tattoos will be in inconspicuous places to signifying commitment. In The Illustrated Woman (published in 1992), William de Michele states, “Tattoos signify commitment. As permanent marks, they generally indicate some personal transition of significance. Often this relates to efforts to gain or regain control of one’s life.” For example, a woman who goes through a divorce might do this to make her body different for a new husband.

Is tattoo truly an art? Considering there are now entire tattoo conventions devoted to the practice and galleries (online and off) of freehand work, it would seem so. Can it be distasteful? Of course, if the wearer is not wearing it “for art’s sake” and has some bone to pick with society. But tattoos have been worn even among royalty and politicians (King Harold II, King Edward VII, Tsar Nicholas of Russia, Thomas Edison, Sir Winston Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother, ex-US Secretary of State George Shultz, and Barry Goldwater, for example). More than thirty million North Americans, alone now bear tattoos, from the rich down through the middle class and beyond. There is no longer the stigma associated with body markings as in earlier times. But whether you decide to wear one or make a hobby of collecting many tattoos, consider the saying “think before you ink.” It is much more difficult to remove a tattoo than it is to get one.

Here are a couple quotes regarding the art and significance of the tattoo:

You may lose your most valuable property through misfortune in various ways. You may lose your house, your wife and other treasures. But of your moko, you cannot be deprived except by death. It will be your ornament and companion until your last day. ~Netana Whakaari of Waimana

A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition. ~V. Vale and Andrea Juno, Modern Primitives