Tattoos: Art vs Meaning

Tattoos, one of the classic and most prominent forms of self-expression. As a pretty big fan of ink (I have six tattoos and counting) I often have debates with my friends on whether or not tattoos should be art pieces or hold meaning. Now, tattoos are great because they are completely up to the individual, and they can be whatever you please. But the debate intrigued me none the less, and I was curious to see what my peers had to say about it. I asked a variety of inked individuals their opinions and the array of answers I got was honestly surprising. Their answers varied from “it’s just stupid and it looks cool.” to “it defines who I am as a person.” I loved the variety though because that really showed how unique the art of tattoos is. They are simultaneously everything and nothing, exactly what you want it to be. And one of the only things that are guaranteed to always be there tomorrow. 

        From previous conversations, it had been practically unanimous that tattoos were supposed to mean something. Some people going so far as to even bash people who got “meaningless” tattoos, yet when I asked people for my article, I got many different results. Most people still said that their tattoos meant something, and they had spent anywhere from 24 hours to 6 months prior deliberating on what to get. That made it clear that the people who had more meaningful tattoos took longer to decide, as the average time for people who had more art-minded tattoos said they only thought about it for around a month. And some even saying they were very spur of the moment. Something I found cool about the art tattoos is most of the time people said even though the tattoo was originally just for aesthetic, over time hidden meanings came out of them. I can confirm this as true, because with most of my tattoos being just art, the longer I had them, the more I started associating them with meaning. For instance, the snake on my wrist I decided to get on the way to the tattoo shop. I simply liked the design and wanted it, so I got it. Then, it was just a snake. Now, his name is Michael and he is my friend whom I love and cherish.  

What I ended up getting out of it was this. Tattoos are really cool, every one has an interesting story behind it and is in some way, a reflection of the person’s personality. I got to hear so many peoples ink stories and even got some inspiration for my future tattoos. And when it comes down to art vs meaning, I believe there are strong arguments for both. Yet it ultimately, tattoos shouldn't be anything. They can be whatever you want, without limits.  If you want a peach on your butt, go get a peach on your butt. If you want to memorialize your grandparents in an intricate sleeve, go do it! There are plenty of ways to combine art and meaning to create a unique and delightful piece just for you on your body. I am more than excited to have seen the creativity poured onto everyone’s bodies that I interviewed, and how that art will continue to progress. In conclusion, if you’re scared to get a tattoo, I’d say just do it. Who cares what others say about it, if you want it, get it. Art, meaning, or both, tattoos are for everyone.