TATTOOS, STEREOTYPES & FASHION
A GUIDE TO TATTOOS IN THE MODERN WORLD
Historically, tattoos have been associated with sailors, rogue bikers and the like. Criminals got tattooed in prisons as a matter of pride, to signify the time they had done.
The Sailor who made tattoos fashionable
He then became the famous sailor who popularised the trend of tattoos. No, am not referring to Popeye.
I was thinking of Sailor Jerry. He is synonymous with bringing in structure to the art of tattooing. Jerry Collins brought in colour themes from places he had been to like Asia along with cleanliness and safety. He literally made the world of tattooing what it now is today.
There is every possibility that you have seen some of his work in your lifetime. You know that garish brand Ed Hardy? Yes, THAT Ed Hardy... he was his protégé and his designs are emblazoned on the line of clothing that I wouldn’t recommend you touch with a 10 foot pole. Not even if you are going through your midlife crisis.
The tattoo trend became a means of self-expression. Men and women alike began expressing their individuality with their tattoos.
Actors and models alike, who had to cover up their tattoos for shoots were no longer subject to Photoshop cover ups. Look at most brands of late, the models are covered in tattoos. Think Levis, H&M and even the very recent Moss Bros amongst others.
Like products, tattoos got a much-needed stamp of approval when celebs like Johnny Depp, Beckham, Rihanna and Mark Wahlberg flaunt their artwork. I personally love the work that Nick Wooster has on his arms. That work, puts any full-sleeved shirt’s existence and purpose to question.
But that is only the glorious part of it all. In some countries and cultures, tattoos are looked down upon. Even if you look beyond it, in the corporate world especially, they might cost you a front-end job or the probability of being taken seriously.
This too, is changing slowly but surely. They became mainstream, everybody seems to have a tattoo these days. People starved for ideas or concepts, search through the internet and if you happen to have your own personalised design out there, it's probably no longer unique. Somebody in some part of the globe now has your tattoo - Yes sir.
The key to getting art etched on your body and not regretting it is picking a tattoo that you get designed from scratch. Tattoo artists these days can develop one for you specifically, if you describe what you have in mind. This goes a long way in making the tattoo symbolic of your personal taste and style.
Wait! It’s a trap!
Now for the tricky part. How do you team your tats with your outfits? Do you compartmentalise your style based on the tattoos you have? Singlets and buzz crops for people with swallow tattoos for instance? Leather jackets, bandanas and boots for those with eagle tattoos? Also, with visible tattoos, do you lose out on your ability to dress the part in the boardroom?
I have a tattoo on my neck that peeks out even when i'm all buttoned up with a tie. Although initially faced with raised eyebrows I was able to pull off the workwear look by just ensuring my tattoo didn’t dictate what I wore. The whole point is, to not get pigeonholed because of your tats.
At my 9-5 desk job, I interviewed a candidate once. He was covered with tattoos (on his knuckles as well) and had a spacer in his ears. But when he came in for the interview, he was dressed in proper formal attire and looked sharp. I recruited him, based on his skill sets. He proved to be a brilliant asset to the company.
If you are inspired (at any point in life) to get tattooed, go for it. But make sure you research the subject and the artist, and don’t go for something that is cheap. I have nothing against butterflies and fairies, if you're lady, but remember, it is your body and it is permanent.
Get one only when you know what it signifies to you. I wouldn’t recommend bargains, not when it comes to something that is art. You don’t negotiate with art. Post-tattoo care and maintenance is a critical activity in itself and there are plenty of websites that can guide you (in addition to your artist).
A tattoo goes a long way in defining your style. So remember, girlfriends and boyfriends come and go, but a tattoo, is forever.