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What is it

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Because I can't quite get started on work this morning and because it's always something I've thought about and because it's something I doubt anyone will ever truly be able to answer without some massive study, I've been thinking this morning about the why to tattoos.

There's a tattoos and why thread, but I've always thought there must be something about the people getting tattooed or becoming tattooers. They're seemingly two different things but, barring some exceptions, tattooers are also getting tattooed themselves.

It seems to me -- and, again, there are always exceptions -- that everyone who becomes heavily tattooed has had, for lack of a better description, a disruption in their life somewhere along the line. Doesn't always have to be something traumatic, or something the person is always conscious of, but nine times out of ten, there's something.

Maybe a parent died, maybe there was a struggle with addiction, maybe you got tossed in foster care, maybe you just moved around a lot, or your folks split up, or who knows. Of course, there are plenty of people who are tattooed who had a happy childhood with two parents who are still married with a relationship that is as healthy as ever. But when I think about a lot of people I know, it's always the divorce card, or the death card, or maybe just the hard-living card.

Any ideas? For us, mostly, we're not connected with an indigenous culture in which tattoos are significant. We don't have rites of passage and we don't have extreme measures of manliness or adulthood. So I think, in a way, we're subconsciously creating our own by saying, "Shit, I'm a kid and I have to take care of my mom," or something along those lines. Or thinking, "Wow, this year has sucked and I've kept it together somehow -- time for a tattoo." And we load up on all this armor to both protect ourselves and ward off all the external shit.

Just thought I'd throw that one out there. I tend to think about things way too much.

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That's all pretty interesting, mate.

I don't really know what to think of that, though- I don't fit into that, really, so I might not really be able to relate because I'm one of those odd people you spoke about who haven't had too much shit. I mean, I have really, but I don't really let things get to me in any way. Maybe tattoos are a subconscious thing for me, then!

Either way, I like the idea of tattoos being like armour. I also like the strange idea non- tattooed people have that tattoos keep your skin warm. If only!

I have a feeling this will keep me thinking for the rest of the day...

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"I also like the strange idea non- tattooed people have that tattoos keep your skin warm." <<< Nobody can possibly think that...right?

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I've had two people ask me that on separate occasions, my good man! I don't know why, but I like the idea of it. Maybe just because I think it's really silly.

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not having "rites of passage" as a "normal" part of our postmodern american lives,unless like a lot of americans you grew up in a crappy neighborhood or barrio. We, having lost these important marking points ,seem to go ahead and create them. Ive been getting tattooed since 84' ,Ive got the ol' hodge podge,because it grew,I marked moments in my life when they happened. I look at most of the crap ive got and think of the good and bad times,people gone and people moved on. when people ask me what those pictures mean ,i can't help but tell some story, important or stupid. i never seem to know why i got a tattoo till much later. So to me there wasnt a reason ,but definetly a marking. figuratively and literally. I tattooed and still do, and always want to tell the recepient, but always bite my tongue, that they probably have no idea yet,as they tell us thier exact reason for getting the mark. I feel like a lot of people are missing the "mark" , when they say to me and maybe to you, "yeah, I wanna get sleeved". and although im pretty heavily tattooed, they'll say " your not really sleeved are you?". I didn't start gettin this stuff to impress. It is frightening to think that people get tattooed to impress. Do it because you have to. Not because all the cool kids are doin it. I never felt ,as a tattooer i had much personal style, everybody elses stuff always looked much better,they all seemed to have so much personal style. I could never get anybody to do what i wanted to do. Ive always been a customers tattooer. Maybe i just suck, some of those that know me might agree. I have struggled with this shit for a long time. I think i always took it so seriously ,that it has always been hard. Sorry, maybe I missed the thread here. I often tell people tattoos are stupid and dont mean shit because i dont think they "get it". If you really want to be cool, get a hotrod or some cool threads. my ol mans pretty cool at 71 ,he never got a tattoo. but my mom did, i did it about 7yrs ago ,she was in her 60's. it means a lot to her, i dont really like it, but that dont matter does it?

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i see where you're coming from, but your argument (or observation) kind of assumes that 99% of the population has an "easy" life while, those with hardship (divorce, death, etc.) got involved with tattoos. i think that's a horrible assumption. life is hard, period. for EVERYONE. most people deal with addiction, disease, death, divorce, violence, poverty, etc., etc., etc. that's just life. life is hard in general, no matter who you are or where you come from. i know lots of people who had amazing childhoods and steady households and became heavily tattooed. a lot of times, it has to do with 100% confidence/satisfaction in yourself and who you are. i know i've always been a very visual person, since i can remember, and pictures and icons have always just attracted me. there's no "us" vs. "them" in this, we're all human, so we all have shit to deal with. which goes into the other part of your post...tattooing is universal in human history. we might not have a super recent or super direct tattoo rite, but we all have it, just being human and having all evolved and spread all over this earth from the same original group of homosapiens. it's why tattoo imagery is popular on clothing or anything else, the icons are universal human emotion. one of the things i love about tattoos is that life is all hate death beauty violence. it's really not that mysterious homie!

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Mario, you're right. I didn't mean to assume that people without tattoos have never had difficult times, though I guess it came off that way. And it's not like I was a child soldier in Sierra Leone, or have ever been homeless -- my easy life has basically afforded me the time to sit and muse about all this stuff.

I was only speaking from personal experience and to clarify, it wasn't that everyone has an easy life except for those that have tattoos. That'd be a shitty thing to think. I was only throwing it out there, that it seems there are so many people that have had similar experiences to me (as a kid) that are also tattooed, and trying to figure out what it was that tied it all together. I DO think it's mysterious, however, especially since it is picked up on clothing, etc. Why does it play on human emotion, how do we connect the dots for ourselves and why do we connect the dots on our skin.

It's not us vs. them, though I know I set it up that way. I do think, however, that it's possible we have subconsciously created an us vs. them dynamic. Not in an antagonistic way, but it is creating a different conversation, if unspoken. And why? If we didn't want to distinguish ourselves, everyone would be wearing the same clothing. Just asking questions that I've always thought about.

Man, looks like my slow return is turning disastrous! (So Mario, can you tattoo "US VS THEM" around the panther head you did on me? What do you think?!)

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