The art of Tattooing has been practised across the globe since Neolithic times. In ‘The Descent of Guy’ (1871) Charles Darwin wrote expressed that there was no use within the world that did not practice tattooing or some different shape of permanent frame decoration. Preserved tattoos on ancient mummified human remains are testament to the presence of this form of art in the world across more than 2 millennia. A prominent ritual that focuses on the embossing of symbols onto skin was when pilgrims to the Holy Land, during the 17th century, were tattooed with a symbol of Jerusalem to commemorate their voyages.
The word ‘tattoo’ itself comes from the Tahitian work ‘Tatau’ and was translated and introduced into the English language with the aid of Captain James Cook's expedition.
Tattooing became popular among the Aristocrat section of society all over Europe in the 19th century, but especially in Britain, where it was introduced in the Harmsworth magazine in 1898 that as many as one in 5 members of the gentry had been tattooed. Taking their lead from the British courtroom, wherein George V observed Edward VII getting tattooed.
Given the rich history, perhaps it's not surprising that tattoos have become more and more popular once again. In part, this is because they are being worn by public figures such as celebrities, athletes, and people within the fashion industry. But another important aspect to acknowledge is the activism and awareness-building done by the community of Tattoo Artists.
Tattooers with art degrees such as Cliff Raven and Ed Hardy were largely responsible for revamping some of the public imagery of tattooing in the '60s and '70s.
Tattoos are great self-expression tools, but be mindful that they are permanent.