Nº#12 | Tattoos: Beauty, creation and... Vandalism?
"Show me a man with tattoos and I'll show you a man with an interesting past.." —Jack London).
We talk about tattoos and most people associate it directly with a taboo or something wrong. It is not uncommon to hear a sermon from a family member about his or her "ugliness" or "indecency. On this basis it is even more often the case that children see this art as a means of rebellion and freedom, which therefore makes it a symbol of something bad or harmful in generalised society.
This negative view of tattoos is what causes their misinterpretation in the art world. For the same, unlike others is rather ephemeral to disappear with its wearer.
Its creation has the capacity to infuse a great number of emotions that can go from the complete pleasure to the complete displeasure of art. Based on this is that we see how in society people often wonder what is the signifier of a tattoo. Its real signifier is given depending on the culture where it is exposed, the time and who bears it mainly. Added to this the tattoo can bring importance according to its aesthetics because it will remain with the wearer the rest of its existence.
It should also be borne in mind that the tattoo is a creation from an artist, who with his talent, experience and creative ability embodies in the bodies his art. For all these reasons the tattoo has the power to be considered as art.
Going back to ancient times
In Greece many of the sculptures had a cultural apex close to divine themes to pay homage or ask for protections. In the Middle Ages art was purely inquisitive and evoked the grace of God. In Romanticism, art was the feeling of the romantic man. Likewise, tattooing takes on meanings according to the time and culture in which it is performed.
Tattoos, as protection were seen from ancient Egypt to African tribe. For the Maori, a tattoo was a symbol of documentation of life.
Today, the tattoo is a means of commemoration more than anything, where we remember relatives, difficult or very happy moments, past loves, thoughts, words, deeds, music and an endless number of meanings that rotate around the tattooed person. The tattoo can have a diversity of meanings just as the other arts have, its difference lies in the fact that the meaning of some form or another is linked to the person who carries it, making it a personal existence. However, for it to be taken as a work of art it must have aesthetics and quality.
A tattoo must be drawn on the skin with black lines obtaining a border. Later the filling is followed where the shadows and colors are in charge of the details.
The Maori considered as worthy tattoos those that possessed geometrical symbols well enhanced and properly placed on the skin of the wearer. These tattoos in turn had to be aesthetically correct as they told stories of the life of the wearer and were in turn a way of living after death.
Behind every tattoo hides the hand of an artist.
The tattoo acts as art, behind each of these works there is a tattooist, an author and an artist who is truly responsible for interpreting and converting ideas into the work of his client.
Becoming a professional tattoo artist has the same difficulty as being a professional painter, musician or audiovisual artist. There are many techniques to give rise to a work, which also require an arduous process of learning and putting into action. Likewise the artist must develop with time his signature or magic that will distinguish them from the rest of tattooists.
This applies entirely to the art of tattooing, technique, originality and creativity to make the tattoo artist a good artist. Also, unlike other arts, there is no school or university where you can learn and study in depth the art of tattooing. It is learned through the relationship between master and apprentice, going back to Japanese cultures and beyond.
Nowadays, whoever wants to learn this art must be at the total disposal of a master in order to learn how to tattoo. When the master realizes that the apprentice possesses the experience and capacity, it is when the apprentice is allowed to tattoo.
In this way, given that the tattoo has a diversity of elements that mix aesthetics, meaning, person and culture, we must see the tattoo as an art, as if we saw a film director, illustrator, photographer, musician, among others.
Let us not see the tattoo as a taboo, much less as a symbol of modism. The tattoo goes beyond something trivial or simple social movement or mass. On the contrary, it is a symbol of mysticism and of bringing ancestrality into the present, an art that was practiced by ancient sages and leaders, where aesthetics went beyond pragmatic concepts of beauty.
People who carry tattoos should know the historical significance behind this art. They should enjoy their tattoo as much as they can, seeing the spirituality and symbolism it possesses. Likewise, tattooers should be self-absorbed as a person intent on continuing to give meaning to this art.
The tattoo as an art is ephemeral like our life, but its significance must have the strength to die buried with it.
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