The permanence of art, in the unflinching rigour of time, is an aspect of life that few really savour. The thrill of producing a work of art is almost lost in the immediacy of it’s production, as one only enjoys it for the given moment, and moves on to the next phase of their lives. Tattoos are, in a manner, mankind’s solution to this conundrum that’s somewhat hard to discern. A work of art, etched into the very literal fibre of our being, makes man the ultimate canvas, ushering in a new definition of the permanence of art.
In the modern age, tattoos have been largely associated with drunken mistakes made on lavish night-outs. These ‘mistakes’ transcend from initial periods of crippling embarrassment only to serve later as a series of hilarious anecdotes that exemplify the ‘wild life’ that someone who had the tattoo led. This conception of a ‘wild life’ dilutes in many ways what tattoo artists stand for.
Craftsmen in their own right, tattoo artists are not often given their dues based on the rapid rate at which they perform their craft. However like a fine artist, their skills have taken years of practice to hone with little to any formal training.
What does make their craft incredibly unique is that tattoo artists live the experiences of all their patients, or customers, whose personal stories are usually the ones that are inked. Their own artistic development is informed by the stories of those very people, giving them a wealth of personal understanding that only a handful of people ever have access to.
The meaning and significance of a tattoo always fascinated me, but the idea of getting one meant that I had to commit myself to something that I really believed in, which I didn’t think I could do because I hadn’t lived enough. I lived out the experience vicariously, when I chanced upon my soft spoken, ever-smiling flat-mate outside a tattoo parlour, debating on whether or not to get one.
As I left her, I came to an important realization - You didn’t need to have ‘alternative lifestyle’ or deep personal experience to get a tattoo. My flat-mate is person who’s at her happiest with a fridge full of exotic cheese and yogurt. So, to see her getting a tattoo, just to check off the experience on her Bucket List was something that filled me with an immense sense of wonder.
The process of finding something that makes you happy, remind you of an experience, or just a commemorate something important, take it to someone and have them make it permanent part of your being isan experience that surpasses normal existence.
A tattoo doesn’t necessarily have to be an elaborate image of sheer artistry; it can even be as simple as a little star to remind you of your self worth. That is at the end of the day, what makes a tattoo beautiful - it can be anything you want it to be, and anything you want it to stand for.