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Tattoos: A Misinterpreted Art Form

Updated on March 1, 2013
5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of Tattoos

As of now, tattoos are seen as a permanent way to pay tribute to those that have passed, show off your creative side, or to simply express your love to someone that you reall care about. While tattoos seem to be a positive piece of art in the minds of the younger generation; the older generation such as parents and grandparents feel that tattoos are not even an art form and should be consider useless and a dumb way to permanently ink yourself for the rest of your lives.

The viewpoints of the majority of the older generation are that tattoos are pointless because of how they were raised, how they view the young are getting them, their personal opinion, and the environment that they grew up in. Our grandparents believe that tattoos are pointless because of when they were growing up in the 1940s isn't wasn't a part of the society's norm to get tattoos in memorance of someone or as a form of art. Back in that time the way to remember someone or to be creative was to take flowers to graves, to pray, to draw or to paint. These days some of the people that are of the younger generation are getting pointless or meaningless tattoos because they can, they want them, and think that it is the cool thing to do. While the majority of the younger generation are getting tattoos to commemorate the older generation or a close relative/friend, to display their creative side to others, and to invent a new piece of art that people have never seen before.

On the other hand, some of the information that people do not know is how tattoos came about and how they are viewed by other cultures. According to wikipedia, tattoos are a form of body modification using ink that has been practiced for centuries. The oldest form of tattooing or painting the skin was found in the 5th millennium on Otzi the Iceman, who was believe to have more than 50 tattoos that were thought to be a form of healing due to their placement. Other mummies were found bearing similar tattoos as well around the 2nd millennium BC. As the years passed by other cultures such as the Celtic and Germanic with tattoos that were war- inspired or traditional tattoos that were that dealt with pricking the skin to insert the dyes. As modern tattooing came around the communication between Polynesians and explorers became more prominent as they learned about tataus as they were called at that time and how they brought them home inscribed over their bodies; explaining to others what they meant and how they obtained them. Eventually, different forms of tattoos spread from Europe all the way to the North American culture. When the 18th century came around, there was a tattoo artist by the name of Martin Hildebrandt, who tattooed soldiers that wanted to commemorate the war, a fellow patron, or endeavors that they've had to overcome. After a while, tattoos were seen as being too expensive, painful, and was seen as of wealth to those in Europe.


In the picture above, you seen a monk who is being tattoed scriptures or a phrase that holds a religious practice/tradition that is among there society

As a country, I think that another main viewpoint about tattoos that people are so pessimistic about is how you will look when you are older. In the U.S., the norm of society of when you are older is to dress more appropiately according to your age and to act as if you are of high intelligence and filled with great advice willing to give to others, whenever they ask. Tattoos are just not seen as the right way to show off how wise you are or even how creative you are as a human being, when you reach a certain age of being termed elderly. In other countries, tattooing is seen as way of upholding tradition, passing along the value of norms to the next generation that is seen as the the right thing to do according to the culture that they are apart of. Also, in other countries, even when you are older the tattoos represent the knowledge that they have gained and the experiences that they have gone through that way they can teach the children and continue to pass on the importance of tattooing in their culture. I personally feel that no matter what environment or cultural background that you have that you should get tattooing if you feel that it is the way to go. People wonder too much about what others think or what Charles Cooley would consider to be the looking glass self, or your acknowledgment of how you think others perceive you. If we are constantly trying to fit into the image of what others would like to see us, then we will never be happy and never being able to express ourselves the way that we want. In the U.S., if you have tattoos at a young age, the only difference that will happen will you get older is that you will look old with wrinkles and saggy skin. This overall change doesn't mean that the tattoos will have less of a meaning now that you are older or that you should be ashamed of the tattoos that you have because of your age wanting to hide them with you clothes. Express yourself the way that you want, always remaining true to yourself, even if that means stepping outside of what is considered the norm or value of society.


In the picture above, you seen an elderly couple proudly displaying off their tattoos by posing for this picture.

At this time, your probably thinking if the older generation are so against tattooing then why are there elderly people having tattoos? This is because not necessarily all people 50 or more years ago thought of tattoos as being pointless. Some of the elderly men that have tattoos now probably attained them when they were in the war. Some of the elderly women that have tattoos now probably attained them due to wanting to be a rebel or to be different and stand out from the rest of the society and how they felt about tattoos at the time in the United States.

Similarly, tattoing is seen as a misinterpreted form of art by anyone who realizes what it consists of and how useful that it may be to them in their lives. The thoughts that someone who like to get a tattoo depends on their environment, what their family thinks, and how society will accept them as of a person that has decided to get a tattoo. If that person does not care what society or anyone thinks of them getting a tattoo then they will simply get a tattoo of their choosing. In the minds of some people still to this day is that tattoos are stupid, expensive, and consist of too much pain. But then the question would stand to ask how important was someone to you, if you weren't willing to commemorate them ? Although, I'm not saying the way to go is to tattoo their name or their date of birth/death, I'm simply saying that you should give some thought to the idea of tattooing.

There are some people in society that are so against tattooing that they are not even considering tattoing as an art form. In the minds of a tattoo artist, the human body is seen as a canvas that should be covered with ink and drawings according to what the person likes. In the minds of the people that are getting a tattoo is that ink is being transffered to their skin to in order to showcase meaning and feelings is a piece of beautiful artwork. This is similar to an artist painting or drawing on an open canvas. The artist feels that the canvas is a way to express themselves and to create something beautiful. The canvas is sitting there waiting to aid the artist is reaching their creative potential. If we are willing to accept a painter, then why are we so dead set against of accepting tattooing as an art form ? In this society, everything from music and clothes are constantly changing due to our generation constantly wanting what's new and different from the rest. Even the popularity of tattoos have increased incredibly and I feel that despite the negative notation that the majority of the elderly people may have received about tattoos that they should learn to at least respect the people that have them and not rule them out as being someone who shouldn't be accepted into today's society.

Do you think tattoos are pointless or do you think that they are meaningful ?

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    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Lady_E yeah some people may go over the top but maybe that's them wanting to express themselves and using there body as a canvas.

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @SheriFaye I'm glad you liked this hub, Ive always wanted a tattoo; I just haven't figured out what to get yet. I hope this hub helps those to understand that tattoos are not pointless and they actually mean something to different cultures.

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Eiddwen haha yeah i don't think you should get that many tattoos especially if you don't even have one tattoo yet. But I'm sure you will get around to that tattoo, one day. thanks for sharing this story with others

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      I have been on and on about having a tattoo done but haven't got round to it yest I don't think I'd want to look like the couple in your hub though Ha ha ha11Just a tiny bit over the top for me.

      I am voting up and sharing.

      Have a great day.


    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 

      8 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Tfhat was very interesting. Thaanks!

    • Lady_E profile image


      8 years ago from London, UK

      Very interesting History. Tattoo's can be nice but some people go OTT with it. (Over the top).... particularly those who have it all over their face.

      I enjoyed reading this.

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago


      I agree with you 100% and that it is someones personal preference but sometimes they are denied whether it is by family or because of their culture in order to not disgrace their families sometimes people do not get tattoos no matter how bad they want them so in a sense they may be denied but mostly they refrain from receiving them.

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago


      Thanks for the positive feedback and yeah I agree as you do that other cultures may view tattoos as being a good thing or a bad thing it all depends on their culture and tradition.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      8 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      This is a very interesting hub and I certainly can understand why people, especially younger people, get tattoos. People with tattoos are definitely embraced in society today as evidenced by all of the sports heroes who proudly display their markings. I, myself, was brought up in a culture which taught that the only people who got tattoos were drunken sailors. I can accept tattoos on men, but it really turns me off to see a tattoo on a woman, even if the tattoo is on the ankle or inconspicuous part of the body. I work with mostly younger teachers in Thailand. Our school policy isto have tattoos covered while teaching. But then, Thailand society is more conservative that western societies. Voted up and sharing with followers

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      8 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Tatoos are a personal preference. Nobody should be denied what they would like to have to express themselves.

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @alwaysexploring thanks for your feedback and for your positive perception of those that do have tattoos.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I believe anyone wanting a tattoo should get one. A tattoo is a personal expression. I knew a lady who got a tattoo when she as in her 70's. It was a little red rose on her ankle. I thought it was beautiful. I have no desire for one, but if i did, i would have one. Interesting topic. Thank's for sharing the history of the early tattooing...

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @L.L. Woodard

      thanks for sharing this hub with others and for your positive critique of how I or others may have viewed tattoos. I can definitely see how it can be seen as a rite of passage.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Interesting information on tattoos and the attitudes about them. The younger generation in America have a long tradition of creating and setting trends that set them apart from parents and grandparents.

      Long hair on men, bell bottoms and nehru jackets were just some of the things the baby boomer generation did to distinguish itself. In my mind, tattoos fall into the same category. It's almost a rite of passage for each group approaching adulthood to find something unique.

      Great hub; voted up and Shared.

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago


      Thanks for your feedback and i definitely understand why you didn't get the tattoo, i do like the fact however that you were interested in getting one. And I'm happy that you are okay with those people that have tattoos as long as they received them in a safe way.

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago


      Thanks for your feedback

      an i like the fact that you shared

      your thoughts on how you

      personally feel about tattoos. I feel

      the same as you that tattoos hold an

      important meaning to those that have them.

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago


      Im glad that you enjoyed my hub and that you were able to understand what tattoos mean to us and to other cultures.

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      8 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      My granddaughter has two large tattoos, and you're right - it's hard for the older generation to accept them. She tells me that they stand for feelings that she has about events that have happened to her. I can understand this, and your article has helped me understand a bit more, so thanks.

    • unknown spy profile image

      Life Under Construction 

      8 years ago from Neverland

      i don't really like tattoos...henna will do because it will wash off.but for some people, i think they hold something important for them.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      8 years ago from Nepal

      When I was a teenager, I wanted to have a tattoo on my arm, but tattoo was a taboo in my culture so I did not have courage to go against my parents will.

      As long is it is done properly and without disfiguring the body, I think tattoo is okay.

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @billybuc thanks for the feedback and yeah i understand if they aren't for you tattoos aren't for everybody.

    • torrilynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @donnah75 thanks for the positive feedback but i guess it may still be worth it depending on how bad you want the tattoo

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 

      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      I thought about getting a tattoo years ago. Then I watched as my friend got hers done. The look of intense pain on her face was the clue I needed. It wasn't worth it to me to subject myself to any level of pain to have art on my body. I do, however, believe that many tattoo artists are amazingly talented. One of my former students, who is a great artist, plans to become a tattoo artist. It is his dream, and he will be great at it. Interesting article.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nice discussion about tattoos. They aren't for me but some of them are very attractive and I can understand why people get them.


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