TATTOO… SELF EXPRESSION OR A DELINQUENT ACTIVITY
By: Nushera Soodyal
The love of art, lust, love, faith and dreams.
“My body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story,” said Johnny Depp. A tattoo is a form of body modification, made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. The word “tattoo” was brought to Europe by the explorer James Cook, when he returned in 1771 from his first voyage to Tahiti and New Zealand. In his narrative of the voyage, he refers to an operation called “tattaw”. Before this, it had been described as scarring, painting, or staining of the skin.
A silly and somewhat strange revelation in life is that common and unenthusiastic citizens of basic level thinking kill the inspirational dreams of those who dare to dream out of the closed jail-like cell of the mind. Without an open mind one cannot fully understand the modern imaginations that influence the lives of these adventurous citizens. Jack London once said, “Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.”
Referred to by tattoo enthusiasts or spontaneous lovers of the art, tattoos are “ink”, “pieces”, “skin art”, “tattoo art”, “tats”, or “work”. The creators of these magnificent pieces are called “tattoo artists” “tattooers”, or “tattooists”. The places where the tattoos are done are called “tattoo shops”, “tattoo studios”, or “tattoo parlours”.
“I am a canvas of my experience, my story is etched in lines and shading, and you can read it on my arms, my legs, my shoulders and my stomach,” said Kat Von D.
I had been asking for a tattoo for as long as I can remember. I wondered what all the unnecessary hype was about and why the label of delinquent kid fell upon my head asking for such a “strange” present. Why such stereotyping of an activity not really understood by society? A truism in life is that average people don’t want to venture outside of normality. Tattoos… a symbol of both strange and different behaviour in society has become a form of art and self-expression. Mainstream society dictates that this form of self-expression is a delinquent kind and not beautiful in anyway, but no one looks at the benefits of this imaginative, graphic artform. To be able to express one’s self in a raw form and in a proud way with artistic mannerism and self-confidence is one of the many gifts many don’t take advantage of. From tattoos that represent people, role models, dreams, love, lust, faith, hope, the list goes on and on. One now has the ability to be expressive and show how they feel by means of art. We are walking art and expressive souls guided by dreams and faith, which is inevitably what all life revolves around.
“Usage of the terms “skin art”, “tattoo art”, “pieces”, and work” are gaining greater support, with mainstream art galleries holding exhibitions of both conventional and custom tattoo designs.”
Although it is forbidden to have “ink” in close to all religions, it has never stopped the expressive people of this century. Tattoos are forbidden in Judaism based on the Torah (Leviticus19:28): “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.”
Permanent tattoos are also considered forbidden in Sunni Islam but are allowed in Shia Islam. In the book of Sunni traditions,Sahih Bukhari , “The Prophet forbade mutilation of bodies.”
“Books are to me as homemade tattoos are to an inmate. Can’t get enough of them,”said Laurie Notaro. A recent visit to Amazon Tattoos in the South Coast Mall on the lower South Coast close to Margate showed that most people that had come to the parlour had some sort of emotional attachment to whatever they needed to be inked on them and that each one’s story was as interesting as the next. Lee, lead tattooist had inked everything from a Chinese vintage teapot to the face of a particularly loved, deceased grandmother on the arms of some of her customers. From Edgar Allen Poe quotes to Koi fish and religious symbols, you name it, she has done it.
“Wear your heart on your skin in this life,” said Sylvia Plath. Self-expression has never been so sexy, so true and so beautiful. This is the willingness to endure pain and to be one’s own person.
Life is just like a tattoo. As Nicola Barker says, “Tattoos are a right of passage. They’re a marker of bravery, of maturity, of cultural acceptance. The tattoo represents not only a willingness to accept pain- to endure it –but a need to actively embrace it. Because life is painful- beautiful but painful.”