Tattoos 58

Tattoos have just a long and illustrious history as any mainstream or classical type of art. Although this fact is not frequently considered today, far from appreciation, public perception in mainstream Western society often verges on an unenthusiastic civil acceptance of the tattooed. The nature of this dichotomy is characteristically American. The United States has some of the most stringent penalties in the Western world for marijuana use but also the highest consumption. The FCC guarantees that on American public daytime television you won't be able to see a female nipple but the country's consumption of hardcore pornography is second to none. Drunk driving is a huge safety issue on American highways. Yet, in a move almost designed to promote binging, the age when one is legally allowed to consume alcohol is still 21 (three years after a citizen can join the military). There exist staggering contradictions between perceived, 'acceptable' public opinion and practiced reality.

Tattoo appropriation has become a striking method of display for often deeply personal viewpoints. Yet unlike the easily derisible choice of fashion, body art is not a practical necessity and therefore rightly open to what is at times, severe criticism. When a practice is pushed to the periphery its practitioners necessarily create rifts away from mainstream society through subcultures. Recent years have seen an exponential growth in tattoo adoption. Slowly, tattooing is moving into the light of day. However, there is tattoo art and there are tattoos. The two are vastly different practices with the differentiation often overlooked. Tattoos current reluctant acceptance is the uneducated mass reaction to a practice once relegated to a traditionally infamous subculture (i.e. tattoos and not tattoo art). Broader public approval of tattoo art has been hampered by the inability to differentiate logic from whim. In other words, acceptance of tattooing as a genuine art form has been slowed by the inability to differentiate tattoo art from tattoos.

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