cultural and social contexts of tattoos


We have our bodies but it’s the media and consumerism that dictate us how our bodies should look and we all know that. Is this new imperfect mannequin trend going to change anything and allow us to accept our imperfections? I doubt it and see it more as yet another way to get into our pockets and wallets but still, it’s interesting to see.

Another, even worse example of creating false images of people is photoshopping and recently Lena Dunham created some uproar (with a little help from jezebel blog – this post shows changes in the pictures). Pic doctoring demands some serious thinking process – we all do that, we all play with the way we look, we all pretend who we are(at least to a degree). What is right, what is wrong? Are we manipulated totally? To what degree we are also manipulators?

A big tattoo convention in Philadelphia is just taking place and it’s a huge performance and game to create a certain image as well. The industry is booming, though – over 800 artists from all over the world, thousands of visitors and lots of entertainment!

In another place of the world, Caracas, another tattoo convention is taking place and it also celebrates not only self-expression but also a human ability to re-create ourselves for many reasons. Stereotypes aside, the Bild magazine put is quite nicely: “doch hinter den Farben auf der Haut und dem Stahl darunter verbergen sich Geschichten von Menschen, die brutal aussehen, aber zärtlich lieben und ihre inneren Kämpfe außen tragen.

Tattoo artists: a Sarawakian Chinese artist fascinated with the Dayak culture and creating something new in his work and a well-known tattooist and buseinessman Chris Nunez on his own turf.

Tattoos on TV: an interesting guide to the ink reality TV shows, a critical text about Bodyshockers (plus a link showing what Bodyshock program has featured so far) and an article about the Black Ink Crew (also TV stars) branching out by means of a new tattoo magazine.

A Japanese clerk punished for having tattoos in Osaka plus an editorial on tattoos at work from the US. Different cultures, different approaches.

A warning aimed at teens and young adults – what you should know about tattoos. It’s not new but still worth mentioning. An inner lip tattoo trend is kind of related to it. Always be careful and think twice before you go for some ink!


With the Oscar ceremony fast approaching, take a look at this Belgian film nominated in the best foreign language film category – a story about a female tattoo artist and a male musician over the years.

popular, so (un)cool


Tattoos still going strong in the mainstream pop culture as this pic from a Victoria’s Secret show shows (it’s from 2012, mind you but seeing how active some celebs/ models are in this department, it’s still valid).

New ink reality TV shows also profit from popularity of tattoos although they seem to be turning in the ‘think before you ink’ direction: ‘Bad Ink’ and ‘Undo Me’ (which is going to cover much more than just bad tattoos).

Eyeball tattooing in Jamaica – in this case it really is better to think before, especially if you’re going to hit the DIY way.

Memorial tattoos became very popular thanks to the Ink TV but this one is worth reading, it’s a part of a bigger work (a chapter from ‘American Afterlife. Encounters in the Customs of Mourning’).

Modblog seems to be a lil better than its usual boring post-Shannon self; an interesting post from there about an upcoming documentary about Marc a.k.a Little Swastika (the website of the makers here).

Tattoos try and fail to reclaim swastika symbol’ offer much food for thought. Is it really possible to change the associations we have had with this symbol ever since the Nazi times? Is it worth fighting for?

The 21st century is an amazing time to live in – ‘people may be the next step in technology’ and e-whiskers.

‘the subculture of body suspension’ from New Zealand (thanks to Bastian who’s going to the hot climates right now ;))

Some Q&A with one of my fav body modifiers, the Lizardman!

New rules in the German army were also brought to my attention by Bastian. Here also a little bit about new rules in the American army,way  less draconian than in Germany.

Finally, a very harsh treatment of a tattoo artist in Iran. No radicalism is good!

it has a loong tradition, so it must be right ;)


The picture above comes from a very interesting website devoted to tattoos and their history across time, space and cultures. The Haida people and their culture were also featured in this article about their body art and meaning behind it. Here’s a slide show focused on modern Haida-inspired body art.

Mo Naga and his fight for preserving traditional tattooing in India.

An interesting discovery in Corpus Christi, TX where a trove of old tattoo flash was found!

Historical figures and their tattoos’ and, the Laubachs, a German family whose history and life are connected to tattoos very closely (the shop).

A report from a lecture about modern tattoo culture coming from high art.

People and their tattoos: Takashi Matsuba and his NYC-based shop where he tattoos tebori way, Dee Crowner, an IA librarian who’s not afraid of showing her wild side, Bill Kaufman, a tattoo artist also from IA, an American tattoo artist living in Germany who creates his own army (the shop’s website) an interview with a tattooed Dutchman, a rapper Kid Ink and his tattoos and finally David Cata who makes incredible things with his skin.

This guy deserves a separate paragraph as he seems to be doing amazing things – a doctor who saves tattoos post-op!

A German article discusses what drives ‘body modders’ to doing to their bodies what they do but I found it too simplistic to my taste. I dare to think our reasons are more complex!

And a documentary from Japan about a Japanese right-wing activist who happens to have quite extensive tattoo work done.


so behind on the updates but a lot’s been happening! Let’s get started, though, shall we?

The biggest news was certainly Mandela’s death! It was coming, of course, but still, it’s one of these great people who changed the world for better! Soon after, people started getting Mandela tattoos – that’s how the pop culture works!

Mandela did change South African political system and kept trying to change the way people perceive those who differ from them but even in other countries it still matters – race and tattoos in advertising still have a negative impact on people! Unless you are a Rihanna who shows off not only her tattoos but also a lot more, here her new fragrance ad.

In Australia partial ban on tattoos in the police force.

Tattoos in Iran.

When I came across this article about writers and their tattoos I was quite interested. After feeding my Kindle with the books (they are, luckily for me, quite cheap!) my excitement somewhat subsided as the novel and stories proved to be just mediocre romances with tattoos used as accessories. Sure, there some attempts at making it good – multiple POV’s, setting in New Orlean and references to the impact Katrine had on the people living there, there was also one breast cancer survivor trying to reclaim her body, quite a strong BDSM motif etc. but still, there are way better novels about tattoos out there!

The first clip of the upcoming ‘Divergent’ movie. The ideas behind the faction tattoos are pretty cool; too bad soon there will be loads of faction tattoos in the real world! 😉

praise, don’t condemn


More posters for the upcoming ‘Divergent’ movie have emerged and they look quite interesting. As for the book itself, I got to read it and must say it’s ‘one-time read’ for me – an interesting idea but overall it won’t beat such dystopian classics as ‘1984’ or ‘The Brave New World.’

November 13 is ‘Reclaim the Swastika’ day across the world thanks to tattoo artists who want to reclaim the symbol and also celebrate ManWoman. Here’s their FB page.

Human Rights Tattoo Project in South Africa.

Some tattoo history and trivia in these pieces on American and Japanese tattoos.

A slide show of religious tattoos and an article about a tattooed Lutheran pastor. From Turkey news about fatwa issued against tattoos.

Polish articles about tattoos at work. Same old, same old, I’d say, though.

A cool tattoo idea for creative and easily bored people: a blank comic stripe. Also, Chaim Machley, a tattoo artist based in Germany, and his tattoos.

watch, envy, get your own!

This week started with the news on new rules for US army concerning tattoos. Apparently tattoos below knees and elbows won’t be allowed. You can shed your blood but you can’t express yourself?

The next piece of news sounded quite shocking – tattoos can give you cancer. Am I miserable and afraid now? Nope! Seeing how polluted this planet is, leaving the house and breathing may give me cancer, too. And even though not all of us know ‘how we’re gonna die…,’ we should at least have some fun while here, no? 😉

This weekend this place is certainly a lot of fun and it gets a lot of media coverage, too – 9th London Tattoo Convention.

Other interesting tattoo events – Dutdutan in Phillipines and a convention in Hong Kong plus Solo Tattoo Solidarity from Indonesia.

Also from Hong Kong a very interesting interview with Joey Pang of the Tattoo Temple shop. The galleries are worth checking out!

Other tattoo artists: Lal Hardy and his new business endeavor, an Irish tattoo artist working in Cairo, Egypt and 5 very promising tattoo artists according to some Chinese magazine (a Pole, Davee Blows, included).

This shop, called Prison Break, reminded me of the famous TV show also called Prison Break. These were the days when I admired Michael Scofield’s tattoos and wanted to have my own set of sleeves!


Entertainment: The Lizardman Down Under (in New Zealand to be precise), banana tattoos and a very temporary doodle body art.


There are more and more TV shows and movies exploring/ using tattoos to their own ends and seems like the movie ‘Divergent’ may be one of them (it’s based on books about a dystopian city divided into 5 factions; the Dauntless faction members are stereotypically tattooed, pierced and clad in black risk takers 😉 ). But sometimes tattoos are frowned upon – Ridley Scott doesn’t want people with large tattoos on his Moses film set.

I love when modified people are generous and caring – here another example that the modified bunch has big hearts: almost 9.000 bucks for a boy with terminal illness.

News from Poland: one of tattoo shops in Poznan, Poland, a local contest ‘Tattoo of the Year’ (also from Poznan) and Silesia-themed tattoos.

tattoos come with a good brain! :D

An interesting submission from Bastian – hooks, of course 😉

To honor him and his Blue-Eyed Monster, here’s some news on tattoos for dogs!

Tattoos and fine art! Also, Angela Su’s project focused on self-mutilation.

Book-themed tattoos on the Huffington Post. And here Game of Thrones tattoos! Tattoos are coming 😉

body art stereotypes misrepresent tattoo and body piercing culture’ – definitely much food for thought!

For once tattoos and other forms of body modification are handy à AZ-based restaurant wants to hire modified people.

Tattoos and skin cancer! Funny, how they phrase the headlines to catch our attention!

Eyeball tattooing.

Another ‘American Mary’ review. I didn’t manage to watch the whole movie; maybe one of these days, though!

Mum tattoos here!

Since I seem to be getting into ‘the Biggest Looser’ show, let me show you a guy who looks absolutely awesome – he’s damn fit, wonderfully buff and he’s heavily tattooed at that! Bob Harper, one of the trainers on the show!


a tribute to Boston

The tragedy in Boston still in the news and it hit not only the runners but everyone else as well. Many people decided to get a tribute to the city in the form of body art. Since Boston and runners go hand in hand, the Boston Magazine prepared a very touching cover for their May issue as you can see below (taken from one of my fav websites!)


A really interesting interview with the author of the “Grandma’s tattoos’ documentary in one of the Polish newspapers. It’s def. worth reading although it seems that it’s not available online yet (all I’ve found so far is this short text from last year). The documentary was screened in Egypt recently.


Islamic women and body piercing.

It def/ made the headlines – what Obama would do if his daughters got tattoos.

Ear lobe reconstruction! As a bonus, an interview with Steve Truitt, one of the leading body modifiers, who talks why and how with quite annoying a radio host!

At first it seems like a great opportunity but it might not be such a good idea after all – ‘all you can sit’ special at one of the tattoo shops in CT, USA (the shop’s website here).

Zombie Boy visited Munich!

A few pictures from Wroclaw Tattoo Konwent.

hooks, tattoos and fitness!

Art of suspension appears in the news not often enough IMHO but here we have quite a treat: the “On Tender Hooksdocumentary (appreciated by Allen Falkner, too) and a video of Dave Navarro doing a suicide suspension (an interesting difference between these two mentions of suspension, too!).

Tattoos are more tamed and thus appear in the news on daily basis. Here ‘how tattoos became favored form of art,’ as a statement for Tibetan cause, more on Chavez tattoos, Auschwitz tattoos now and tattoos as a means of identity for members of Mara Salvatrucha.

And yet tattoos are even more than (just) art, memory, identity r statement. It may also give you control over your body back: nipple tattoos vs. breast cancer.

This one is interesting for many reasons and one of them is that the author is Don Ed Hardy himself: ‘how to get rich by tattoos.’

A Polish accent thanks to an article about Yakuza.

I don’t really like posting stuff about celebs but this time I’m going to make an exception as it’s related to ‘Game of Thrones’ (I’m more into books than the TV series): “Cersei Lannister’s” tattoos.

Being fit is important (or it should be for these who love saying how their bodies are their temples, or at least blank canvas ;)), so I liked the idea to “tattoo” the bodies of the dancers!

Finally, since I’m still riding the high after my (7th!!! :)) half-marathon, let me share the pictures of body modification on fitness ‘guru’s’: Jillian Michaels and Gwen Lawrence. For me, there’s nothing more beautiful than a modified and fit body!