What does Art of Tattooing mean to me?

Unique tattoos: Does the quality of tattoo art depend on the subject matter?

Yes. You do not have to agree with me. But honestly – yes.

Putting figure of pope head down into the toilet can be a controversial installation at best. But if you look at The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David, you can feel great Art.

So before you decide what will be the subject matter of your next tattoo, consider whenever you want it to be a piece of art, or not. Trying to illustrate some forgotten underworld full of strange creatures is a great art direction, doing another realization of lion in the roses – not exactly.

If you are after art, then keep on reading, but if you searching for some easier ideas then just visit pages like pinterest.com, it will be definitely less boring for you. Now, with all of you who are still here, let’s get to the point.

Functions of Art.

Let's start with the most basic and strong stuff. After Professor Liena Vayzman, here are functions of Art:

  • Art for Delight.

  • Art as Commentary.

  • Art in Worship and Ritual.

  • Art for Commemoration.

  • Art for Persuasion.

  • Art as Self-Expression.

You can learn more about that concept here, but what important for us now is, that with Art, and with Tattoo Art as well, we can achieve so much more then simple skin branding. We can change lives, the way other people perceive us, interact with us. It is unbelievable. So, why limit ourselves to just another design found on the Internet, that was done minimum a thousand times?

Tell the story.

Think about stories, scenes, moods, something that happened, or could happened.

Unique tattoos can tell the story that happen, or that could happen. Tattoos are big statement of freedom, so this medium allows us to tell any story. Non-existing worlds, creatures from other dimension, illustrations of holly places, fears, daemons, cyborgs facing nature, nature growing through the metal shell, man changing in the circle of life, all this is possible. Literally, there are no limits, when you allow yourself to imagine first. (octopus tattoo here, was done to tell the story like I described)

Do not look for images. First think, what you would love to see as an exciting picture. What situation, where it happens, who are the characters taking actions, what are the actions.

Personally this is my favorite way of preparing for art, whatever it is – drawing, painting, or tattooing. It allows so much creativity.

Collect references.

Pictures of gadgets, backgrounds, locations, character types, body types, creatures, clothing.

When you have an exciting idea for an unique tattoo, it is time to think about realization. Where this scene is taking place? Is this a space ship, or castle, or maybe dark forest, or underworld? What are the characters involved in this? Are they even human? Were are they coming from? Are they muscular, or fat and ugly? Demon who punishes humans for a deadly sin of Gluttony can be fat, scary creature coming out of the skin to face some gentle girl standing alone under street lamp.

For all of that we need references. Pictures documenting special examples of what is working well with our idea so we can make it more convincing to the viewer.

For many this approach will be too much, and I understand that. These days tattooing often does not differ much from having a hair cut. You just do it regularly because that makes you look better, and you do not put much thought behind it. But for those who like me, are interested in bending the reality to see what can be done with a tattoo, there shouldn't be any borders! If we suppose to treat tattooing as an art, let us use all the art approaches in it!

Allow yourself a bit of freedom.

Be prepared that final effect might still differ from your first imaginary scene.

As we shape our idea into more defined one, we have to make decisions. We collect references and some elements that we thought will work fantastic, doesn't work at all. We search for one thing and by accident we find another one. So our general idea changes, evolves, and that is good. Do not be fixed on the initial vision, as it will change as you define it. Enjoy the process of creating absolute unique tattoo. Not always have to know where exactly you are heading.

Documentary art.

Art can also register actual or past situation, leaving comment to the viewer.

That is especially powerful function in tattoos, which mark the precise time in someone's life on the body. There is no way to forget when you get your tattoo done, and where. I bet you probably even remember what was the weather at that time.

One of the sleeves I did, had burning man from the Tibet included. There was no commentary to that. But we both, my customer and I made an art statement using this symbol.

On the other arm we planned to do sleeve related to international bombing and terrorism. This project never happened as I moved to different country, but I love this idea so much! We can say so much with art tattoos. They do not have to be subject matter flat. There can be depth behind it, transforming human body into ultimate walking art piece!

Marking your skin with something important to you, that you want to show to the world, is a beautiful – unique thing to do.

Abstract art.

Art can also be just eye pleasing, or can evoke emotions.

This is not exactly my specialty, but I can appreciate the art tattoos of other artists following this road. Human body has rhythm, it is beautiful in it's essence and by using tattoo colors and shapes, we are able to transform it. Tribal Maori strong lines or modern ornamental styles are perfect example for that. But there are tons of other options. I even know personally tattooer who creates art on skin that resembles traditional iconic, religious etching. Big splashes of colors, totally crazy approaches to make tattoos that spread on few collectors.


I wanted to wake you up.

To put you in a bit unease situation, question reasons why you are getting tattooed. Not to attack you though, but to inspire you to look beyond what is popular, to look deeper and do not restrict you mind with assumptions of others. Only you can say where are your borders of creativity and expression. Only you can say what tattoo art means to you.