I’ve just finished reading “The Electric Michelangelo” which follows the life of a tattoo artist. More about the book later, but I’d like to pull a quote from the novel:

“Tattooing distresses those it does because it’s as generous as a whore on her birthday. It’s human art that you can’t peel back off the human or put away in a dresser drawer… it’s personal socialism. Everyone’s included, everyone gets to look in to a person and share them, like what they see or not. A tattoo says more of a fellow looking at it that it can do of the man who’s got it on his back.”

I’ve written about tattoos before but this book gave me pause to re-consider my opinions. Believe it or not I’m still not totally sure WHY I got tattoos. There was certainly an element of rebellion to the decision, not to mention a large desire to change people’s opinion of me (ohh so young, so naive), and if pushed I’d admit that I like the reaction I get when people discover that I – stereotypical, middle-class “nice guy” me – have tattoos.

Over time my view of them has changed somewhat, the initial excitement soon wore off and I began to get increasingly annoyed at people asking to see them. It was around that time that I realised that I didn’t get tattoos to show off but for myself as an effort to express my own individuality even though I was only expressing it to myself. Nowadays of course that’s a little like wearing jeans as an act of rebellion, but as it’s ten years since I got them I’ve had plenty of time to realise that that sentiment is both flawed and completely accurate at the same time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, whilst I’m a fan of tattoos and body modification to an extent I do think it can be taken too far, and can begin to look unsightly but equally I say each to their own, and you never know how short life will be. I wonder what tattoo I would get if I got one today?

What say you? Tattoos – good or bad, ugly or art?