‘How It Begins’, was to urge people to regain their in-depth thinking about tattooing. In this way, to reduce the potential damage caused by regret. Although the intention was good, after my research, I realised that the inner self is not the only reason people ink themselves. Which means I must re-evaluate my target audience and redefine the change I want to see.
Everyone walks into a tattoo parlour of their own choices, and it is important to be clear that there are no right or wrong answers about what and how people want to ink themselves. I do appreciate the beauty of the diversity of the tattooed community.
My target audience are those people who are willing to know themselves more from their tattoos. The statistic shows 46% of Americans (150.97 million) and 40% of British people (26.66 million) had at least one tattoo in 2018. This is a huge community and it is still growing every minute. There is no doubt that a good tattoo can bring positive influences on people. By inviting them to use the art of ink as a bridge for exploring more about their inner self can benefit their well-being and the influence could be bigger than we could imagine.
I summarized my research and drafted a ‘reflective guidance’ that could be used before tattooing (The Reflective Practice Before Tattooing). Because of the current circumstances caused by COVID-19, I only showed this to some of my clients from my previous work and my flatmates from UAL (with no tattoo experiences). I also interviewed them with the questions below:
What are the influences brought to you by your tattoos?
Do you think reflective practice is necessary before tattooing?
How necessary is it for the tattoo artist to provide such kind of guidance?
The interesting thing is that all my clients said they needed to take more time to think about this instead of giving me their first impressions. Their willingness to treat this seriously made me so grateful and also, I was aware of the potential for my proposal from their reactions.
All the clients that I interviewed had several tattoo experiences with different tattoo artists.
They all recognize the effect from tattoo that could be brought to people, but they also pointed out that one single person can have different tattoos with different functions, and their needs could also be changed during different life stages.
On the other hand, the students I interviewed showed fewer interests in the ‘inner energy’ tattoo could bring to people. They recognize the tattoo as a social currency. Their tattooed friends (BA/MA students) seem to be quite casual about tattooing even after they got some low-quality tattoos.
I’ve been trying to contact external experts such as the writer of Under The Skin, and also some famous tattoo artists. I would have updated this part if I had got their replies. It is certainly a difficult time, but it is also necessary to reflect on my outcomes to evoke their interests.
The reflective practise for tattooing is only a beginning. I will need to develop more tools to get attention from people and more academic back up from the psychological arena.
Baggs, M. (2020) Tattoos: 'The more I have, the more confident I feel', BBC Newsbeat
Fox, B. (Director). (2012). The Skin I'm In [Video file]. Broderick Fox. Retrieved April 12, 2020, from Kanopy.
Jackson, C. (2019) More Americans Have Tattoos Today than Seven Years Ago, Ipsos Lemma, A. (2010) Under the Skin, A Psychoanalytic Study of Body Modification, London:
Perraudin, F. (2018) How tattoos went from subculture to pop culture, The Guardian
Routledge; Alice Snape (2018) Tattoo Street Style, Ebury Press
Statista Research Department (2017) United States - tattoo/piercing inspiration in 2017, by gender, Statista
The Harris Poll (2015) Tattoo Takeover: Three in Ten Americans Have Tattoos, and Most Don't Stop at Just One, Available at: https://theharrispoll.com/tattoos-can-take-any-number-of-forms-from-animals-to-quotes-to-cryptic-symbols-and-appear-in-all-sorts-of-spots-on-our-bodies-some-visible-in-everyday-life-others-not-so-much-but-one-thi/ (Accessed: 4 April 2020)