Drawing On the Side Art Blog
Is tattooing an art? I might face a lot of tension with that question. But the answer that I__™ve concluded is that in some cases it definitely is and in others I don__™t think it is. I, myself, have a few tattoos and in the years since I__™d gotten them, I went through laser treatments to get them removed. The reason being is that I had gotten them for the wrong reasons, which, I believe, is why most people decide to ink themselves in the first place. And I__™ll get to that a little later.
One thing I__™ve regretted since the day I started ___sleeving___ myself__"besides the regret of doing just that__"is that I hadn__™t thought of designing my own tattoo. You__™d think that since I consider myself somewhat of an artist that I__™d definitely draw up my own conception or illustration for my tattoo. No, actually, what I did was leaf through the various generic designs that they had in many assorted binders and picked one that I thought would fit my arm nicely and that looked cool, not bothering to think that maybe somebody else had picked the same one which would make mine not so much a one-of-a-kind. However, for some of my tattoos, I did ask the artist to make some alterations to the design to at least make it somewhat of an original.
At one point, I had a total of five tattoos on my left arm and one (my last name in Old English font) on my right. I felt it was a novel idea...for about a week. But after that, I really was tired of it and embarrassed at times to have them standing out on my arms. The reason that I felt that way was because of how I went about getting them; it consisted of going to the tattoo shop, flip through their binders, pick a design and have them ink me up. I mean, I actually drove to the shops each and every time without a forethought of what exactly I was going to get.
Of course a great big reason for regretting the tattoos were the comments certain people made. One time I was stopped for a minor traffic violation (although I felt I was wrongly stopped as I was going 35 MPH in a 40 MPH zone, but that's a whole other story that I won't get into) and the officer quickly noticed the Old English tattoo of my last name, asking me bluntly if I was in a gang. Never being in a gang, I was taken aback and offended by that question. Even though I told the cop that I wasn't in a gang, I was further angered when the officer ignored me and responded with, "What gang are you affiliated with?" I'll just say that the whole experience that day left me very pissed off, yet I understood when I put myself in the officer's shoes.
The last straw that strengthened my decision to get rid of the tattoos was when a gentleman that I met for the first time asked me, after noticing my tattoos, "Gee, when did you get out of prison?"
Again, putting myself in the man's place, thinking about how it would be to see me for the first time, looking at the Smile now, cry later (comedy and tragedy) masks, the Old English lettering, a scorpion, the huge cross on my forearm, and the dragon wrapped around all of that...I could see why he would make such a comment. Because all those tattoos were just a bunch of meaningless pictures that I picked out of a stupid book without so much of a thought or reason behind my choices.
And that__™s exactly where I feel tattoos are not artwork, that they__™re merely permanent pictures inked into you without any symbolic purpose. It__™s just a trend that started about the early 1990s and that__™s when I started noticing people frequenting the local tattoo parlor more and more. You__™d have guys going in and getting tribal bands or Chinese lettering, not knowing what they mean. Carlos Mencia had a little skit one time where he talked about tattoos and picked people out from the audience, making fun of the white guy who had a tribal band as he asked the guy what tribe he was in or commenting on the Hispanic gentleman who had Chinese lettering and didn't know what it stood for. I can see if a Native-American had the tribal band or a Chinese-American had the lettering, but it__™s obvious when someone gets the tattoo just to get the tattoo. It__™s especially apparent when you ask the individual point blank what the meaning is and they answer that they don__™t know or that they think it's cool.
All this is the biggest reason why I decided to go forth with laser treatments to get rid of my tats, which is more painful and definitely a lot more expensive.
Now, when the tattoos have meaning and a purpose, that__™s where I think it__™s artwork.
If someone gets a deceased family member__™s picture tattooed on their body, that has meaning because it shows that the individual doesn__™t want some insignificant badge of honor to try and be something they're not. Instead, it shows that he or she had a love for that person and wants to display that. It also illustrates how they__™d go through quite a bit for them because a portrait of a person would require so much time and pain because of the details involved, such as shading and different coloring.
Another form of artwork I believe is meaningful to get inked into your body is something that shows how dedicated you are to the image. For instance, if you__™re a big Spider-Man buff, such as myself, it would clearly show who you are by getting Spider-Man™s likeness tattooed onto your shoulder or arm. Or, as a person who™s a diehard fan of a sports team, that__™s another ideal type of tattoo. See, illustrations such as those are pretty simple to draw up and ink into yourself, but it exhibits your character and lets people know who you are.
Of course, the person's background is another great thing to incorporate into a tattoo, like their country's flag. See, I myself never even thought of to put the Portuguese or Azores flag anywhere on my body and that's one thing about me that I'm proud of. One of the coolest tattoos I've seen, and it took quite a bit of artistry to pull this off, was a tattoo that looked like skin torn off with the Portuguese flag's colors showing underneath. Now that's artwork!
And, yet, the tattoos don__™t have to be huge and enormous to present your individuality. A small, yet simple, little picture can say it all without having to mar your body in order to make a statement and it__™s still artwork.
So, I guess what it all boils down to is that if you tattoo your body just to mark yourself up to look cool and make everybody think you__™re some badass, then that__™s not art. If you illustrate your body to show what__™s deep down in your heart, then that__™s true art.