December 3, 2022
Tattoo Culture: How Did We Get Here?

Tattoo culture is not new, but how did it start? The roots of tattoo culture can be traced back to circus freaks. They were often presented in shows and mistreated. They provided an outlet for people who would have otherwise been abandoned. A tattoo artist creates permanent images or words in clients’ skin by injecting ink and other pigments just underneath the skin with a small, sanitized needle. Tattoo artists can set up shops, work privately for clients, or work for others.

Many tattoo artists near me have shared how the tattoo was invented. Different ideologies and concepts were shared, but how did tattoo culture get into society? The first examples of tattoo art date to 5000 BCE and are defined as an indelible mark established by putting pigment under the skin. Tattoos come in various shapes and connotations across time and cultures. 


Symbols are all over tattoo art history. The earliest tattoos have been identified in Egypt, where they were discovered on corpses dating back to the Middle Kingdom (2160 BCE). When the Iceman tattoos were carbon-dated and found to be 5,000 years old, they were discovered in 1991, close to the border between Italy and Austria. In ancient Egypt, women were more likely to get tattoos than men. They thought these patterns would protect them, accentuate their physical attributes, and increase their attractiveness to the opposite sex.


Tattoo machines have played a significant role in the evolution of tattoo art. O’Reilly was the first to patent a tattoo machine based on the rotary technology developed by Edison. Eventually, electromagnets took the place of the electric motor. A single coil machine was patented by Thomas Riley in London twenty days later. This machine utilized a modified doorbell assembly in a brass box. Alfred Charles South of London later patented a two-coil tattoo machine. Tattoo artists could use this machine to lay ink in one stroke to produce a dominant line in the tattoo. Some tattoo machines were also equipped with springs attached to the ceiling or the top of the machine to help reduce the operator’s wrist weight.

Machines in the history of tattoo artists date back to the 1870s. A Nebraska Journal article described tattoo artist James O’Reilly using a single-coil machine to outline the design of a tattoo and a smaller machine to fill it in with color. Neither of the articles specified what type of machine he used, but a description of the “stylus” suggests it was a straight-handed device with many coils, not a pen.

Cross-Cultural Influences

The tattoo industry has benefited from a cross-cultural influence. During the American Civil War era, tattoos were popular among soldiers to identify their bodies if they were killed. After the war ended, tattoos were considered a form of art. The tattoo industry also grew with the emergence of female tattoo artists who brought influences from fine arts and music.

Traditionally, tattoos were associated with a particular race or ethnic group. Today, tattoos on the hand are popular symbols of group identity and ethnic pride. Crosses, angels, and other religious and Christian symbols are also widely used. There are also mythological characters and symbols, though. For instance, tattoo artists might utilize skeletons, fairies, or devils as representations of the afterlife or the paranormal.

Women’s Acceptance

In recent years, women have become more accepting of tattoo artists. As a result, tattoos have become accepted in all spheres of society. They were originally thought to be the domain of the counterculture and the lower classes. Instead, tattoos now serve as fashion embellishments instead of having the negative implications they once did. Claude Levi-Strauss believed tattoos “transform a person from a raw animal into a cooked cultural being.”

The work of tattoo artists is challenging. The population with tattoos is subject to unfavorable stereotypes. Numerous cliches link promiscuous behavior by tattoo enthusiasts, drugs, and alcohol. In addition, women who enjoy getting tattoos confront particular difficulties. Women are frequently perceived as unusual or abnormal due to their marginalized gender and ardor for the task.

Social Media

Social media is great for tattoo artists to expand their client base. Not only does it cost less than traditional advertising, but it also has higher conversion rates. With an Instagram account, tattoo artists can connect directly with potential customers. Here’s how it works: a tattoo artist creates a profile that includes information about tattooing, where they live, and how people can schedule appointments. Artists can also attach their social media accounts to their work-related emails. This will ensure that any contacts will not be lost. They can also invite existing customers to become followers on their page.

There are some downsides of social media in the tattoo industry, which can lead to copycats and copyright issues. However, tattoo artists struggled to reach a large audience and build followers without social media. Now, with social media networks, this can be easily accomplished.

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