Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Intriguing | The Tattoo

Tattoos and those who get them is a culture that is surrounded by much intrigue. For those who have them it is a lifestyle surrounded by the love for art and the permanence of something fantastic and for those who do not it is a point-of-view that they may never understand. Tattooing and the art thereof has a long history, dated before the counter-culture of the U.S. Navy and before the Polynesian islanders of the 1910's. In fact, tattooing has been around for more than 10,000 years, except in much different forms. The form that we have come to know so well gained its origins from the Polynesians and thus was discovered by explorers of the Eighteenth Century and picked up by the U.S. Navy during the first World War. Which gave way to some of the greatest and most exploited tattoo artists to ever walk the Earth.

Men outside a London tattoo parlor in 1931.

Of all the tattoo artists out there, and due to some fantastic exploiting, Don Ed Hardy would have to be the most famous of the bunch. Known for his incorporation of Japanese aesthetics into his art and for the Don Ed Hardy clothing line by Christian Audigier that defamed the name Ed Hardy. He was the apprentice and pupil (if you want to consider those two separate entities) of Sailor Jerry Collins, who in the tattoo business if the foremost American tattoo artist of his time. Having developed his own non-toxic pigment and using the same sterilization as hospitals he revolutionized the tattoo business and was a brilliant artist with an eye for details.
Not your everyday tattoo artist.

Sailor Jerry got his name after he joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 19 and never left the sea after that. He dedicated his life to sailing and having only been a tattoo artist for 12 years had plenty of time to do so. He openned up a tattoo shop during those years where he mentored the likes of Ed Hardy, Mike Malone (Rollo Banks), Cliff Raven and more.

The tattoo parlor has not changed, only the tattooist.

Much-inked American sailor having another tattoo done by a shipmate aboard the battleship USS New Jersey during WWII in 1944.

A 1963 Member of Vietnamese "Junk Force" with compulsary tattoo on chest, meaning " Kill Communists".

Now my only dilemma is that I want to get a tattoo, what exactly I could not say. An anchor on my shoulder, Los Angeles skyline on my shoulder blade, a flag of the U.S./Netherlands, or maybe even some words of some sort. But I am a Jew. It is as simple as that and having it be both against my religion and a sign of the holocaust as shown in the picture just below I also have serious problems with it. I have thought about getting "We Will Never Forget" on my arm in a similar place, but to put something there that they felt so strongly against on my own regard seems a little contradictory and careless. So, I dare to ask: What are your thoughts? What do you feel or believe about tattoos?