Throughout African history, the techniques and meanings within the tattoo culture have changed. For many years in the past and to come, the tattoos can be a symbol of things like social status, tribe affiliation, and bravery or courage. The scarification method is also very prevalent in Africa. Scarification is the cutting of one’s skin deeply enough to leave a scar in the form of a pattern or symbol onto the body. In Africa, the methods of scarification and tattooing go hand in hand. This method is known as “cicatrization”. This method is performed through first cutting into the skin. You have to cut deeply enough for it to leave a textured scar, usually done with razors or thorns. Then, in the open wound, charcoal is rubbed. This will leave you with a textured and colored design or pattern. These scars were often re-opened at a later time to be made more prominent by adding pebbles or pearl-like things underneath the skin. For women, often these markings correlate with fertility. These markings are made on girls traditionally at puberty. Then, again they are marked after the birth of their first child. The markings are meant to commemorate these women for going through the painful process of childbirth. For men, the markings are indicative of manhood. At puberty they are first cicatrized. Then, as they approach manhood, they undergo the re-opening of their scars so that they can be made more prominent with the additions or pebbles or pearls. In modern-day Africa, however, regular tattooing is more dominantly found.
The American traditional style of tattooing has been around for years. It originated around the time of World War II, as many soldiers from the Navy were sent to Honolulu, Hawaii. A man by the name of Norman Keith Collins or, “Sailor Jerry,” decided to open and run his tattoo shop there. As a symbol of patriotism for many, the other men wanted work done by Jerry, as his style was inspired by patriotism along with new techniques. The images tattooed at the time were kept fairly simple with the use of bold black linework, and the color range mostly dominated by primary colors. The main colors used were red, blue, yellow, white and green. Many of the images requested and available were things like beautiful women with American flags incorporated, swallows, hearts, and roses. As tattoos usually do, this imagery meant certain things. For instance, roses are a symbol of love. In these difficult times, it was very possible that your husband or anyone that you loved could be sent off to battle. When someone got a rose back then, it symbolized their desire to someday see their loved one again, as every goodbye could have easily been their last. Another example would be the swallows. The swallows, to the sailors, represented a certain freedom. As the soldiers were always under the command of someone else, the swallows that would often stow away on their ships would remind them of home as well as inspire them to keep on going and to not fear what lies ahead.
When you imagine a studio you want to be tattooed in, you probably picture someplace friendly and clean. You also probably want your setting to be a creativeone with well-rounded professionals. An embodiment of this is ihearttattoo Studio in Columbus Ohio. Their goal is to provide their patrons with a kind, inclusive and clean environment. They believe, as they should that “tattooing is a very personal and unique experience,” (ihearttattoo, 2011). These facts are likely the reason that when you search “best tattoo shops in Columbus,” ihearttattoo is the first to appear with an impressive rating of 4.7 stars.
Another esteemed shop that you can find in Columbus Ohio is the Momento Tattoo and Gallery. This shop employs award winning artists like David Tevenal. There is even a feature on the shop’s website that allows you to purchase his prints and original works. This shop strives to give you something that you can proudly adorn your body with and present for the rest of your life, paired with great customer service and craftsmanship.
High Street Tattoo is another great shop to visit. The staff there is constantly refining their skills by staying focused on the art. Whether this means drawing, painting, or tattooing. This shop has also hired many well-rounded artists, many of which are not bound to any one style. Usually an artist will focus on just one style and mainly work work with that, but many employed at this location can perform in many. While this is unusual, it is most definitely an advantage.
The tattoo machine was first patented by Samuel O’Reilly in 1891. He was inspired by Thomas Edison’s invention; the electric pen. The pen was a business tool. used to perforate paper so that ink could be pressed over it and documents could be more easily copied. “The Electric Pen was part of a document duplication system used by businesses and used a high-speed reciprocating motor to drive a single needle,” says Jinxiboo.com. This product was a failure. O’Reilly took this design, and modified it. He saw it not in the form of a copying mechanism, but something that he could use on people to mark them more quickly and efficiently.c He added a place for ink, along with needles that the ink would travel through. This device made tattooing so much easier and faster, thus opening a whole new door into the business of tattooing and being successful in doing so. The product was a major hit worldwide, and is still being used today. Before his invention, the tattoo artist could only perforate the skin about three times per second. After, however, the artist could perforate the skin about fifty times per second. Later on in 1929, Percy Waters came along. His patented design related more closely to today’s machine that we use. His machine included an on and off switch, a spark shield, and a pair of electromagnetic coils. Now, after the machine’s modifications, tattoo machines can perforate the skin about three thousand times if not more per minute.
Today, tattoos are symbols. Whether they represent your culture, your interests, your race, your social status, or just your creative expression, they symbolize something. The history of tattoo artistry itself is very vast. This method of body modification has been around for centuries, as proved by preserved skins dating as far back as Neotholic times. The oldest evidence can be dated back to somewhere between 3370 and 3100 B.C. on the mummified skin of “Otzi the Iceman”, Europe’s oldest human mummy known to this day. It is thought that tattoos were onced used as an acupuncture-esque form of therapy, not to symbolize or represent anything about you or who you are. The parts on Otzi’s body adorned in tattoos were parts that endured more stress and wear and tear, like his lower back, wrists, knees and ankles. Many of his 50 tattoos were placed on major joints of his body, which are also present-day acupuncture medians. Small incisions were made, and charcoal was then rubbed over his skin. Throughout the years, the meaning of tattoos has evolved greatly to say the least. What were once only a remedy to physical ailments are now a creative outlet to many, and can even be helpful to aiding mental health. There is a category of tattoos called “transformative tattoos” that can be used to cover scars due to anything from injuries to surgeries, even beautifying amputation scars. Tattoos can also symbolize a transitional point in one’s life, or even memorialize something or someone.
Nathan Marti is an artist employed at Stained Skin in Columbus Ohio. He specializes in realism, and his use of color is impressive.