Art, inspiration, identity, meaning. These are some of the words that come to mind when we think of tattoos. Tattoos tell stories, provide constant reminders, represent cultural references and express feelings and ideas. But why, in a world where everything is changing at an unprecedented pace, people would want something that cannot be easily removed? In this article, in our section dedicated to Society, we look closely at this flourishing trend.
FROM COUNTER-CULTURE TO MAINSTREAM.
Tattoos are everywhere. Once considered part of the counter-culture, tattooing has become a mainstream part of society. Tattoos have burst onto modern culture and become more and more popular because they are being worn by celebrities, athletes, and people within the fashion industry. No longer associated with sailors, convicts and gang members; no longer the mark of the outcast, of the rocker and the rebel; now one in five US and UK adults say they have one - and among 18-29 year-olds the latest figures peg those with ink at 40 percent.
If you have never seriously considered getting a tattoo, you might be wondering just what motivates people to get something so permanent etched onto the skin – and to put up with the pain that comes with it. Or if you have tattoos, you might be wondering whether your reasons for getting them are similar to everyone else’s. Ask enough tattooed people about why they decided to go under the needle, you will notice there are some common themes.
THE IDENTITY CRISIS UNDER THE INK.
Modernity compels us to declare our identity with conviction. But, in an increasingly complex and fragmented world where the only constant is change, the result is a loss of the personal anchors needed for identity. Tattoos may provide this anchor, offering a way of visually promoting one's identity and/or group affiliation in a society that fosters, both wittingly and unwittingly, anomie and anonymity. And for younger people, who are more likely to struggle with figuring out who they might be, tattoos don’t just express identity: they help define it. Which is why Millennials and Generation X are more likely to rely on tattoos as a way to cement aspects of their past and present selves.
This permanence is key. We define who we are by the elements that stick with us - people, stories, places, memories - and we measure ourselves in relation to them, patching the highlights together into what sociologists call a ‘personal myth’. These myths make sense of our lives, integrating our remembered past, perceived present, and anticipated future. Some people use institutions such as religion, work, and family to create this myth. Others use material objects like houses and cars to define it. But younger generations are different. Without access to many of the anchors their parents had to create their personal myths, that sense of stability and permanence is often harder to find.
THE ULTIMATE FORM OF SELF-EXPRESSION.
Our current society craves individuality and self-expression. Unlike clothing, make-up and accessories, tattoos have something that make them truly peculiar: they are permanent, essentially immutable. The decision to permanently modify one's body is intensely personal, irrespective of the motivation. It is a celebration of individuality, the ultimate form of self-expression.
Tattooing is a controlled manifestation of our inner persona: a way to communicate our differences and uniqueness, thus influencing how we are perceived by others. Having a meaningful tattoo allows us to express who we are on the inside, to express our passions in life. Tattoos indicate the desire to stand out in a crowd, the refusal to just blend into the background. For some people, that is their biggest appeal.
A VISUAL DISPLAY OF A PERSONAL NARRATIVE.
Turns out tattoos are not really just skin deep. Most tattoos hold heavy meaning. They are not a random design, they are significant. They matter. So, more often than not, tattoos become a time capsule for identity. Tattoos can remind us of what we have already been through, as well as the continued strength and hope that the future brings. In this sense tattoos become a visual display of a personal narrative.
As people evolve and grow up, old tattoos become valuable reminders of unique stories of a past self. They become a way of honouring family and loved ones or recording meaningful moments right there on the skin. It is like having your own journal but in tattoo form. You will never be able to forget them, and they will always be a part of you. Even when everything else about the world right down to the body changes, tattoos are constants. They assure a link to the past.
THE EXQUISITE ARTISTRY OF TATTOOING.
Tattooing is one of humanity’s most ancient forms of art and, in the last century, has made its debut in galleries, museums, auctions and tattoo conventions. Around the world, tattoo museums display tattoo artefacts from the machinery involved in the artwork itself. There's power in ink and beauty in the art we inscribe on our skin.
Like art, tattoos can have multiple meanings that can be open to the viewer’s interpretation. When a tattoo is designed, it is a unique piece of art created just for you. It is exactly like spending hours on a drawing or project or whatever is personal to you. The end result is just a permanent reminder on your body, rather than on paper. The body becomes a blank canvas and tattoos their masterpiece.
At UNTAMED STREET we celebrate individuality and self-expressionism. We love tattoos because we love art, and there is something so wonderful to us, almost romantic about the way a tattoo as an artform cannot be commodified. They are truly an individual piece of art.
the editorial team.
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UNTAMED STREET is a contemporary men’s and women’s footwear brand intended for a generation that eschews traditional paths in favour of forging their own. Our pieces are for those seeking something unique. For those unapologetic in their pursuit of style and self-expressionism, wanting to go beyond fashion statements to forge an authentic lifestyle experience.
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