ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Body as a Canvass for Tattoos

Updated on December 31, 2019

History of Tattoos

The art of tattooing has been around for thousands and thousands of years. The art goes back as far as the Vikings, the Greeks and the Phoenicians. And the oldest to date thus far that has been found is Otzi, better known as "The Iceman".

In the decades since Otzi has been studied we now know he had some 61 tattoos on his mummified body. It is thought that because of the placement of his tattoos some may have been for medicinal purposes associated with his joint and spinal degeneration.

Tattooing is an expression of freedom, and artistic expression, perhaps even rebellion or intimidation. The history of tattoos has had many swings in the acceptance of tattoos. Once thought to be barbarous and in some cultures even sinful.

Today there is a resurgence of tattooing and even messages can be tattooed on one's body. It has now become socially acceptable and worn by athletes, royals, Hollywood stars, fashion icons, almost every single profession known.

It has been agreed among tattoo artists that there are a few areas on the body where it is considered a little more painful. The rib cage, behind the ear, top of the foot, the chest and the ankle are considered to be areas to avoid.

It is extremely important to follow the tattoo artist's instructions for the care after a tattoo. Infection and healing properly must be followed to avoid problems.

Even Mattel has started selling Barbie Dolls with a tattoo.

Tools of the Trade

Long before the invention of the tattooing machine in approximately 1891, the artist used thorns, bones, shark's teeth, and a small mallet to pound the skin, to make the cuts and then rub soot or pigment into the cut. Today a tattoo machine can do up to 3000 revolutions a minute. We can credit Samuel O'Reilly who revolutionized tattooing with colored inks, designs, and new tools. He did use Thomas Edison's idea of an automatic writing pen but O'Reilly went a bit further with the idea and even got his patent for it.

There are methods for removing a tattoo either fully or partially using non-invasive Q switched lasers. It can also be expensive but sometimes an artist can place another design on top of one to disguise one.

Oldest Tattoo on "The Iceman" called Otzi

Otzi's Tattoo
Otzi's Tattoo

The Picts of Old Scotland

the Picts people as they were called by the Romans were a Scottish group thought to be savages fighting naked with nothing but a spear and colored blue. The Romans thought they painted their bodies blue until they realized they were tattoos. The Picts were the only people that the Romans failed to conquer.

Somehow during the 10th century they disappeared from history leaving very little information about themselves.

The "Painted People"

Tattoos of the Pict People
Tattoos of the Pict People

Famous Royals With Tattoos

Here are some famous royals that got 'inked' back in the day.

King Harold of Spain- He had several tattoos and they were used to identify him after he was killed in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Prince Albert (later King Edward VII)- he had a Jerusalem Cross on his arm after a visit to the Holy Land

Duke of Clarence - had a dragon on his arm in 1882

Duke of York (later King George V) - had a dragon on his arm

Peter The Great

Catherine The Great

Nicholas II

And yes, even today both Duchess of York and Duchess of Cambridge sported tattoos but they were henna tattoos and disappear after 3-6 weeks.

Peter The Great and his dragon tattoo

Peter The Great
Peter The Great

Omai The Tattooed Man

Omai, known as the "Tattooed Man" traveled to England with Captain Cook in 1774 and created a sensation. A painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds was sold at auction for ten million in British Pounds.

Portrait of Omai

Portrait of Omai
Portrait of Omai

Omai the "Tattooed Man"


Native Americans and Their Tattoos

There are many reasons Native American Indians tattooed themselves. They believed in the spiritual and legends of their culture. Some of their reasons were:

Rites and passage symbolizing important events

Identification of their clan

Status and rank such as a medicine man

Distinction and honors

Power and protection

Healing powers

Mandan Medicine Man

Mandan Medicine Man
Mandan Medicine Man

Sailors and Tattoos

Here are some meanings of sailors tattoos:

pig on one foot and rooster on another was thought to protect them from drowning

full rigged sail meant they sailed around Cape Horn

anchor meant they sailed the Atlantic

dragon meant they served on a China station

shellback turtle meant they crossed the equator

'hold on one hand and 'fast on the other meant they could grip rigging better

Sailor Tattoo for Protection

Sailor Tattoo for Protection
Sailor Tattoo for Protection

Most Tattoed Couple Today

Charles Helmke has over 97.5% of his body tattooed. His partner, Charlotte Guttenberg is right behind him. They are listed in the Guinness Book as such. Charlotte did not receive her first tattoo until after the age of 50!

Chuck and Charlotte Record Holders

Chuck and Charlotte
Chuck and Charlotte

Popular Quotes for Tattoos

There are many short quotes suitable for tattoos. They seem to be widely used today and are very attractive. Here are a few pictures of more common quotes.

Tattoo Quotes

Even Angels Fall
Even Angels Fall

Tattoo Quote

Love Me For Who I Am
Love Me For Who I Am

Tattoo Quote

Don't Worry Be Happy
Don't Worry Be Happy

Requirements For License to Tattoo

There are of course license requirements to become a tattoo artist. First and foremost is a talent for drawing. Sure you can copy a design but ultimately the talent is critical to building your portfolio. Each state has its own set of requirements so you will need to check where you plan to work in tattooing. The primary requirement will be as an apprenticeship with a talented and licensed tattoo artist. In an apprentice program, you will be doing mundane jobs such as cleaning equipment, answering phones and setting appointments. You will not be paid during the apprenticeship and it usually takes one to three years to complete.

Tips For Painless Tattoos

Here are a few tips for a painless tattoo:

Always be sober

Feed yourself





Take breaks

If you feel you need something to ease you through a tattoo, there are topical anesthetic ointments to use. Most tattoo artists seem to prefer Hush for their customers.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)