The Creation of Adam is a world-renown masterpiece brushed by Michaelangelo in the early 1500s. The massive fresco painting illustrates his perspective on the Biblical story of man’s creation. It’s still being preserved on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City.
The Starry Night is a classic work of Vincent Van Gogh. The dark eerie oil painting —with its swirling sky, exaggerated stars and that creepy castle thing — is famous largely because it depicts the view from his room in a French asylum in 1889. It’s currently residing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Nelson Mandela is a black-and-white etching of the late civil rights leader. The portrait features painstaking detail of Mandela’s profile. The wrinkles on his face suggest the years of struggle and sacrifice. The stoic stare and half a smile hints to his legendary resolve and peace.
This classic was created in 2013 by Nikko Hurtado. It can be found on the rib cage of rapper The Game.
Tattoos have grown from taboo to respected art. With an ink gun and human flesh as canvas, timeless pieces are being crafted. A new audience, one not long for the classic art of antiquity, has developed an appreciation for the tattoos the way professors drool over the Impressionism. Talented artists of this craft, such as Kat Von D. and Ed Hardy, are becoming cult figures in the vein of Andy Warhol and Thomas Kincaid.
This art form is so popular, so pervasive, there is even a tattoo season. Over the next couple months, millions will flock to parlors to become walking Sistine Chapels. And it’s no longer about simple roses and cursive names. Shoulders are being converted to colorful, abstract masterpieces. Loved ones are being remembered through real-life portraits on pectorals. Entire legs are being converted to imaginative 3D renderings.
Millennials have often been criticized for their lack of culture and disinterest in art. However, tattoos prove they do indeed have an eye for art. But instead of art in frames, viewed in museums and art shows, they prefer their paintings on skin, viewed on hot bodies.
“The modern art landscape is utter chaos,” Hogan said. “But tattoos, as far as lushness of pattern and colors and shape, they are quite lovely to behold.”
Young adults in this country have taken a particular liking to tattoos. More than a third of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 are inked up (36 percent). Conversely, 31 percent of Americans between 25 and 45 have tattoos. Over 45, the percentage drops to 14.
Gone are the days of paint and canvas. Say hello to the era of needle and skin.
But while the method is different, the purpose is the same. Self-expression. Honoring culture. Memorializing people.
Marine Corps Veteran and former LPC student Paul Nawrath has a deep-seated affinity for the art he has had permanently laid in his skin.
“No matter what you go through in life, you will always have your tattoos,” said LPC student Paul Nawrath, a Marine Corps veteran. “When I was on my deployments, and I really didn’t have anything other than what was issued to me, I still had my tattoos.”
This art form is persistent in its growth. But the discipline of tattoo art, while unique, is similar to the construction of typical art
First, the outline
Tattoos have been around for more than 5,000 years, according to the “Smithsonian Magazine.” That is proven by the 61 visible tattoos found on the “Iceman,” who was discovered in 1991, and has been dated back to pre-3000 AD.
“(Art) is a language that predates our written language by about 50 to 75,000 years,” Hogan said.
Because of their primitive beginnings, tattoos were developed with primitive tools. And thus, they may have held primitive purposes, and most likely carried little artistic value.
In ancient Egypt, women regularly tattooed their body. The perspective reasons have ranged from designating themselves as a prostitute to an amulet of healing for pregnant women, according to the “Smithsonian Magazine.”
The Polynesians, who berthed the term “tattoo,” used them to designate a societal member’s place in the hierarchy.
After World War II, tattoos became a symbol of military service and patriotism.
Still today, service members and vets can be seen with their unit or Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) inked on their body. And it represents a great deal of pride.
Nawrath’s tattoos feature the classic black and grey style. But it was another military man who has received much of the credit for the mass popularity of tattoos in America, and for his creation of a different style. Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins brought color to the tattoo world, a new style was born.
When Sailor Jerry introduced what is now known as the “Classic American” tattoo style, in the 1940s, he brought colors to the previously colorless world.
The addition of colors led to the modern tattoo artist.
One such artist is Justin Skolnick of Inkestry Custom Tattoo Studio of Livermore.
“I’m a (fan of) the Classic American style,” Skolnick said, “(those tattoos) have the solid black outlines with rich colors.”
This introduction of color led to modern world tattoos, and styles known for both bright coloring and deep shading. Styles like portraiture, realism and cartooning.
These styles are heavily responsible for tattoo’s place in the modern landscape of art.
“It’s fair to say that (tattoos have a place in modern art),” Skolnick said, “because tattoo artists are actual artists. All of us draw, and have drawn forever.”
“The majority of the people in this country don’t have enough money to have someplace to decorate, so they decorate themselves.”
And with more tattoo styles coming to the forefront, the middleclass American has some of the most beautiful artwork available to be placed on their human canvas.
With fine outlining and bright luscious colors, New School (or cartoon) tattoos have brought a beauty to the art that has captivated the attention of many. With expert shading and lifelike recreation of musculature, portraiture tattoos are the favorite of people who would like to recreate the likeness of a loved one, or in some cases their favorite celebrity.
But, the style that represents the purest of this controversial art form is the “realism” tattoo. Realism tattoo artists combine the shading of portraiture and the color blending of the most established painter’s palette to create images that could often be confused with their model. Often what separates these tattoos from Classic American tattoos is the use of shading to create depth and dimensions.
Just fewer than 60 percent of people polled by Fox News say that they do not like tattoos. But with that focus group isolated to those 35 years old or younger, 55 percent say they do like tattoos.
There is no lying, tattoos definitely have a negative side. But most of that comes down to the art, less than the professional opinion of the tattoo itself.
Some tattoos suffer from, what Hogan calls the “Thomas Kincaid school of tattoos.” He explained that, what he means is many people don’t think enough about the art they permanently lay on themselves. He referred to those tattoos as an “impulse purchase.”
As for the effects of having tattoos as a hirable candidate, it is highly debatable how much of an influence body art has.
According to LPC Internship Coordinator Leslie Gravino, it is easy to get around any problems encountered.
“(Tattoos affect your image as a prospective employer) the same way earrings do,” Gravino said, “even your haircut could have an effect. You want to try to dispel any negative opinion.”
To dispel those opinions, according to Gravino, it is as simple as covering the tattoos, and allowing the hiring manager to develop their opinion of you as a person.
Hogan, however, feels that this opinion and those that have it are a dying breed.
“A small group (of potential hiring managers), fading away, will have a negative connotation towards tattoos. There are always the minority groups.”
For those considering tattoos, there are some things to keep in mind.
As time passes, your skin will age. And when the art is all gone, be sure that your ink has meaning. Don’t just get a tiger’s head on your left bicep because its what Tupac and Justin Bieber got.
According to Skolnick, finding the artist that matches to your liking is the first step in getting your own ink.
“You should definitely take that into consideration,” Skolnick said, “(if you want to get a tattoo) go in (to a shop) and look at the (artists’) portfolios. Find an artist with a style you like and talk to them.”
And when you have discovered an artist with a style you like bring your idea to them. It isn’t usually advisable to bring that artist someone else’s artwork.
Tattoos have grown in popularity over the past decade, and their growth has brought, as Hogan put it, “a great deal of wonderful artistry.”
And that artistry will only improve over time.