The reasons people become involved in the body art experience are as varied as the people themselves. These reasons range from a need for self-expression, a desire to have a permanent remembrance, to an appreciation of art for arts sake. By definition, all tattoos and piercings are a form of self expressions. The reason people indulge in body art can very simple or very complex and as involved as the artwork itself. The women whose response was “why not?” Might just have a caller attitude, or she might be exhibiting a nonconformist and confrontational nature. The extent and intensity of a persons body art may also be a barometer of the level of desire for self-expression.
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Body art has existed for as long as humankind itself. The desire to alter ones appearance, whether it be for a practical purpose such as early peoples need to camouflage for hunting and warfare or for decorative purposes, the attract members of the opposite sex, or just the need to impress ones fellow cave dwellers, body modification has been practiced since people first started recognizing their own reflections in the local watering hole. Even in nature, plants and animals practice forms of body modification au natural. Many specifies can change color or alter their size in order to elicit desired response from friends or foes. For example, some male birds flash brilliantly colored feathers to impress the lady birds, while some reptiles and plants expose fiery red tones as a deterrent to hungry neighbors.
A tattoo is a form of body modification where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes, and pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. The art of making tattoos is tattooing.
Tattoos fall into three broad categories: purely decorative (with no specific meaning); symbolic (with a specific meaning pertinent to the wearer); pictorial (a depiction of a specific person or item).
The word tattoo, or tattow in the 18th century, is a loanword from the Samoan word tatau, meaning “to strike”. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology of tattoo as “In 18th c. tattaow, tattow. From Polynesian (Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, etc.) tatau. In Marquesan, tatu.” Before the importation of the Polynesian word, the practice of tattooing had been described in the West as painting, scarring or staining.
The etymology of the body modification term is not to be confused with the origins of the word for the military drumbeat or performance — see military tattoo. In this case, the English word tattoo is derived from the Dutch word taptoe.
Mainstream art galleries hold exhibitions of both conventional and custom tattoo designs, such as Beyond Skin, at the Museum of Croydon. Copyrighted tattoo designs that are mass-produced and sent to tattoo artists are known as “flash”, a notable instance of industrial design. Flash sheets are prominently displayed in many tattoo parlors for the purpose of providing both inspiration and ready-made tattoo images to customers.
The Japanese word irezumi means “insertion of ink” and can mean tattoos using tebori, the traditional Japanese hand method, a Western-style machine or any method of tattooing using insertion of ink. The most common word used for traditional Japanese tattoo designs is horimono. Japanese may use the word tattoo to mean non-Japanese styles of tattooing.
AFTERCARE IS KEY TO TERRIFIC TATTOOS
Tattoo care is similar to skin care used for minor burns. The area must be kept clean and moisturized until the tattoo has completely healed.
1. Following the tattoo session keep tattoos covered with the bandage for at least 3 hours (or overnight) to protect against foreign material entering the skin during recovery time. Resist the urge to look at the tattoo and touch the area as little as possible.
2. Remove bandage after the recommended time has passed.
3. Do not re-bandage the tattoo.
4. Wash tattoo area with antibacterial soap and water to remove all ointments and blood. Rinse thoroughly and lightly pat dry with a clean dry towel. Do not use alcohol or peroxide on the tattoo it will dry out the skin.
5. With clean hands, apply a light coat of vitamin A and D. Apply it onto the tattoo like lotion. The scab will say off and won’t get hard and crack.
6. Do NOT use petroleum jelly on the tattoo. It won’t do anything but cause dry skin and heavy scan. Some skin peeling will occur, if so; apply non-fragrant lotion.
7. Don’t pick or scratch the scab!
8. After 5 days you may stop using the A and D ointment and switch to non-fragrant moisturizer.
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