The Body as a Canvass for Tattoos
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.