Friday, 10 April 2009

Individual Interchangeable Individuals

Tattoos have been used to brand people as a member of a certain group for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and the art of skin inking is still becoming more and more popular in mainstream culture. Whether you were a sailor adding a Pacific Ocean swallow to your arm, or a gang member proving your allegiances, these permanent scars meant something - that you were part of a counter-culture that was inherently important to you.

These days of course, it's much more common to hear of somebody to get a tattoo to express their individuality. At least in Leeds that's the case, I don't know of many pirates around here showing their seafaring credentials with Indian ink (although I'd love to be proven wrong). An individual tattoo is becoming very difficult to achieve however, as I suspect has been the case for many years now. Ever since tattoos were deemed acceptable in everyday normal-people society round about the 1970s mark, their popularity has boomed, causing the world to be flooded with Koi Carp-ed biceps and forgettable lower-back tribal designs. If there's one thing that offends my eyes, it's a bad tattoo. It isn't the person who has the tattoo's fault that their "artist" couldn't draw dolphins (but oh god, please tell me why you'd want a dolphin tattoo anyway), but they'll have to live wearing the lopsided water-mammal-freak branded upon their person until they see fit to remove it or get a nicer tattoo to cover it. Until they do, the world will blame them personally for the bad tattoo. It's a curse.

Designing your own tattoo is, in my opinion, the only reason you should get one. Unless you have a clear image in your mind of exactly what it is you want scratched into your skin for life, what is the point of committing yourself to it? I'm sick of seeing identikit people with interchangeable tattoos. A star? How original! I bet it describes your personality! Knuckledusters? Wow, you're really saying something about society and your place in it!

Thankfully, yet another counter-culture has staggered blinkingly out of it's darkened bedroom and into the limelight; the embracing of the inner Geek. It's (apparently) been cool to be a nerd for a while now, what with brogues and cardigans being in fashion and every man and his dog going out to Game Station to buy a second hand SNES and everything. This geekiness has found it's own way to express itself when forced to wear everyday work shirts, and it is the nerd tattoo.

(Image courtesy of art tattoo designs)

We've all seen the head/body tattoo (if not, here it is, although you should probably install Stumble on your computer pretty soon, you're missing out on a lot of important procrastination hours) but nerdy tattoos don't just stop at HTML. Oh no. If you look for long enough you can come across some amazing examples of downtrodden nerd-culture preserved forever in sometimes amazingly artistic examples of tattoo craft work. Reserve the word "lame" for use elsewhere, I don't take too kindly to it.

(Picture courtesy of my lovely friend Steven, who makes music and likes computer games and 8-Bit everything.)

Geek tattoos can take many forms, from the pixellated videogame character as modelled by Steven, to the elaborate UV confections which are now becoming far more commonplace now that all health risk fears have pretty much been put to bed. The idea of a UV tattoo excites me. The very fact that a person could have a secret full-length sleeve tattoo that nobody can see in broad daylight is damn futuristic. I'd definitely get a robot arm. Imagine showing that to your grandkids.

Take hold of your inner geek and give it a big bloody hug. You might not want to go the whole hog and get an arm-length fractal design just like what I want so badly, but for god's sake, the next time you get the urge to change your appearance forever, at least try and do it in an original way. Nobody believes that you're trying to be "individual" when you get a butterfly tattooed on your arse cheek.

Here's that fractal design I was on about by the way. I couldn't resist. Don't you just love fractals?

(Image courtesy of Stickywhippet)


peterRepeater said...

Hahaha, I love this! I completely agree!

It's such a trite thing to get wrong and when it goes wrong it's pretty much for life.

I've been searching and searching for ideas for a tattoo because Hey! Everyone should have one! It's the done thing.

But everytime I think I've reached a decision, I manage to turn that decision into one, big, horrible cliché and then I'm back to square-bloody-one.

And even if I found a design, even created my own, I can guarantee within a few months I'd be cursing myself for being so bloody hasty!

I do like the idea of a UV tattoo though. It's just not as obvious. I like that.

Good post! :-D

Katie said...

Hah, thanks. Personally I think this is my weakest work so far, but then again, I did over-excert my political brain muscles last weak. It's time for the weakling girly to have a bit of a lie down rest :p

It's exceptonally hard to get a tattoo that doesn't look shit after a year, nevermind 10 or 25. It's why I'm hesitant to get another - I'll never regret my Million Dead one, but the fractals? My vague wishes for an elephant? By the time i'm 30 I'll be wholeheartedly sick of them, most likely. At least the UV ones fade. They'd bloody expensive though.

the_man_in_the_middle said...

If I were to get a tattoo I'd probably get £¤¥€ tattooed over my heart. I think that's pretty original as I was the origin of the idea. £¤¥€ being 'LOVE' spelled out in currency symbols. Pretty kewl, eh?

Katie said...

Cuz like, all people love these days is like, money, yeah?

What currency is the "o"?

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