Are Tattoos Art? Artists Poll Results

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I had the privilege of polling a group of about 60 artists/art enthusiasts about tattoos and tattoo designs. The main question I asked was, “Should Tattoos be considered Art?”

There response was rather quick and to the point. Over 70% of the nearly 60 people asked replied “Yes, of course,” with over 90% admitting to tattoos being art “more often then not.” Less then 10% thought either tattoos “weren’t true art” or “very few should be considered art.”

Overall a pretty strong backing from the artist community. Of the comments received, there were a few themes that tended to recur. One of the first themes was mentioned in this comment…

“… anything created with the human hand is considered art, whether the canvas is a wall, skin, fabric, etc. or whether the medium is ink, food, paint, pencils, charcoals, digital program, etc. Once you think about it, if you transposed the image from skin to paper, people would say the image is art.”

This theme, that the body is just another canvas, incapable of canceling out any degree of artistry, showed up in a lot of comments. It makes sense to me, but the concept of being branded with a permanent ink sways some critics the other way, saying it’s “completely inappropriate” to taint the skin and call it art.

Another common theme that the group was pretty passionate to point out was this… when a design was tattooed onto you, it had better be original. And not only an original tattoo, but constructed specifically with the intent of being art for you and your body. This qualified it enough to cross most people’s threshold and be considered “art.” Many agreed, saying “unless it has a special meaning to the person…” that a copy of an image wasn’t art. The idea that “some just copy a design out of a book…” gains no respect from these artists. Maybe a little harsh, but originality keeps art ever evolving, even with tattoos.

Although most credit the amount of skill a tattoo artist must have in order to successfully do his job (noting how under appreciated they are in the world of art), a side question did come out of the discussion that I thought was interesting. They thought another question worth asking along with “should a tattoo itself should be considered art” was whether a tattoo artist was considered an “Artist” or not. I think this is a great question, but also a lot easier to answer.

The way I see it, you can see someone’s total body of work (no pun intended) and judge it based on a few elements – like creativity, repetition of designs, mastery of the craft – and come up with a pretty decent case to whether a person is an artist or not.

The question of whether a tattoo is art or not comes from the opposite side, which is more of a gray area. Whereas people can respect skill, intent and artistic ability enough to judge someone as being an “artist,” art, for whatever reason, seems to be seen with more of a critical eye. People are more vocal to discredit it, or argue against it.

Take that fact and couple it with a technique (tattooing) that some people don’t agree with in principle, and you have grounds for an interesting discussion. It seems, though, that artists are not among those against it, and favor tattoos and original tattoo designs joining the party more often then being excluded from the label of “art.”


Source by Nate Richards

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