The Meaning of a Tattoo

On the topic of… Meaning

Just to introduce this feature I will be discussing topics relating to tattoo art but not the art itself. The topics will vary in each addition but have the aim of helping you build your tattooing business. You are most likely an artist by self definition but we all need to ensure that we run an effective business for our art, whatever form that art doth take, to flourish.

This piece is about how you communicate your work. I spend a fair amount of time communicating with tattoo artists on social media. It’s great to log onto Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and see awesome tattoos that have just been done. There are so many talented artists around these days and these platforms are perfect for sharing work on.

However, one thing has always struck me as conspicuous by its absence in these posts. I have 6 (soon to be 7) tattoos myself and they all MEAN something to me. I have a reason why I had those particular tattoos done and I think this is true for most tattoos on most people.

Sure, a lot of tattooists have tattoos which are possibly more about the experience or overall appearance but when it comes to Joe Public (your customers) it usually takes a bit of INSPIRATION to come up with a tattoo you want doing.

Kids’ names are the obvious one. No parent would worry that their kid’s name is going to be on them for the rest of their lives because they know they will love their child for the rest of their lives. That tattoo has a fairly obvious meaning to that person.

However, EVERY tattoo is going to be on your body for the rest of your life (at the very least that’s the plan) so what’s the inspiration for those?

However, Lee ‘Doc’ Kelly, a tattooist from Okehampton, told me the story behind a particular tattoo;

‘Not my best tattoo but by far my most important: I tattooed a gentlemen who had lost the last 6 generations of males in his family whilst in military service. He was unable to join up for medical reasons and felt ashamed of himself. This tattoo gave him back some self respect, knowing he was honouring his lost kin. Like I said, my most important tattoo.’

It FEELS different now doesn’t it. Now, the story behind every tattoo is quite that powerful. I doubt we’d feel as moved by the story behind a Lego Iron Man tattoo but if you do get in the habit of asking your clients about the inspiration behind their tattoos; why they want it on their body for the rest of their lives; and share this your posts will be far more engaging and there’s no better way to build your profile than show you connect with others’ inspirations. And not least shows the IMPORTANCE of what you do as a tattoo artist.

‘Why?’ is the simplest of questions but ‘why’ is the driving force behind every action we take. If you want to move people, you can do that with great art for sure but… now wait for this next sentence because it’s a good one… What is art without meaning?

Jungle Tattoo Supplies UK are stockists of the full range of tattooist products – from inks, needles, tips and tubes to anaesthetics, tattooist chairs, tattoo machines and furniture.

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