It’s estimated that 38% of adults in the US between the ages of 18 – 29 have at least one tattoo. How did this 12,000-year old practice, once reserved for the marking of criminals and slaves, erupt into mainstream?
Throughout history tattoos have seen a roller coaster of acceptance in various civilizations. From its origins in Egypt where it was ornamental and a pain management tool, through the dark Greco/Roman age when slaves and criminals had their face marked, the art of tattooing has been at the mercy of its bearers to help it find its rightful place on the positive side of history. Marco Polo wrote of Asian artisans that received people from all over the world to get tattooed, and in the Spanish conquest of Mexico, Hernan Cortes was horrified by the tattoos the Mayans had of their idols. In the late 1700’s Captain James Cook brought back from his travels Polynesians with facial, tribal, tattoos and European were fascinated. The trend continued with sailors, and then Edward II, Prince of Whales and future King of England got a Jerusalem cross tattooed on his arm.
During the hippie culture of the 1960’s tattoos jumped to the screen in Ray Bradbury’s classic “The Illustrated Man” where the plot hinged around the inked illustrations on a hobo’s body. Today the acceptance of tattoos can be attributed to two things – the state-of-the art technology that enabled the creation of machines like FK Iron’s Spektra Xion, Halo2, and Direkt2 that are extremely maneuverable and gentler on the skin, and to celebrities. People like Dwayne Johnson “The Rock”, Tom Hardy, Angelina Jolie and Danny Trejo – a former convict whose prison tattoo of a woman wearing a sombrero has become one of the most recognizable tattoos in the world. And to the NBA! Dennis Rodman was the first player to sport multiple tattoos on the court, but when Allen Iverson showed his ink, the trend to stand out on the court took off. Today Chris Andersen, totally and properly inked definitely has all eyes on him.
People of all walks of life get tattoos now. Whether because it’s seen as cool and trendy or because it commemorates a personal statement, the new-found commonality has made tattoos popular.
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