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This Art Is Forever

by Niti M. Patel

Photo Courtesy of Instagram

Tattoos have been around for centuries. The word itself is a loanword derived from Polynesian “tatau,” which literally means, “to write.” In modern society, tattoos have been regarded as their own niche section in art and culture, with connotations of rebellion.

Recently however, tattoos have found themselves in the pop culture spotlight. Tattoos are trendy now—a cool form of self-expression and a big part of pop culture. From articles about celebrity tattoos to entire Pinterest boards, acceptance and interest in tattoos seems to be at a peak.

Many tattoo artists have even become celebrities. Kat Von D has nearly 6 million Instagram followers, and there are even reality shows centered around the art form. Social media has helped brand these artists, spread their influence and increase public interest in the art of tattooing. Some may say this acceptance and recognition is long over due. However, the permanence of the ink etched onto one’s skin does bring about a mix of emotions.

Tattooing still has plenty of stigmas. At many workplaces, visible tattoos are still a no-no. However, some people love them, even calling them addictive, and revel in the permanence.

“It’s like a birthmark, but you get to choose it,” says Amanda Pelrine (CGS ’19).

Others aren’t so fond of them. The “ink on skin forever” aspect is off-putting to some, as it is a huge commitment.

Picking out the tattoo is often a process. A lot of thought and consideration is put into the design and placement of a tattoo. Often times there is emotional significance to a tattoo. Whether it’s a picture, quote, symbol or any other design, the tattoo can be a memoriam to a loved one or a way to signify an event in one’s life.

However, tattoos don’t always have to be significant or hold a deep meaning.

“My tattoos are meaningful, but they don’t have to be, ” said Rhoda Yun (CGS ’19). “I plan on getting some fun ones just because.”

Tattoos come in all shapes, styles and sizes. They range from full body portraits that can cover an entire chest to a simple symbol on the side of one’s finger. From traditional Polynesian tattoos done with bone, turtle shell and wood (and often appropriated as “tribal tattoos”) to American “Sailor Tattoos,” the artistic styles, rules and techniques that go into tattoos are vast and diverse.

Although a few people may come to regret their tattoos, many others adore their ink. To some, these tattoos capture a lost feeling or freeze a moment in time forever on their skin, leaving a physical memory to look back at.

“I feel like they’ve always been there,” Yun said of her tattoos, adding they have feel as if “they’ve always been a part of me.”

Below are a variety of tattoos, which all differ in style, but are all masterful works of art all the same.

Da Vinci

Tattoo: Oozy

Ocean Siren Sleeve

IG: ryanashleymalarkey

Floral Sleeve

IG: blackmedicinetattoo

By Yi

IG: blackmedicinetattoo


IG: sashaunisex


IG: georgiagreynyc

Despite the stereotype and stigma of tattoos, some people relish in the permanence, the individuality and the personalization of tattoos and tattoo art. As a growing culture subset, the tattoo industry seems set to grow only more popular and diverse.

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