I’m taking an art class this semester, and yesterday I wore my TATTOOS ARE MY WAY OF INVESTING IN ART t-shirt to class.
This led to an interesting discussion with one of my classmates, who has several tattoos herself. She said that all her tattoos have a common theme, something very spiritually meaningful to her. Like me, her ink is usually covered by clothing, but she described some of her tattoos and explained why they fit her theme.
I obviously never had a “theme” in choosing my tattoos, but all of them have deep personal meaning to me, so in that sense they go together even though visually and stylistically they don’t match in any way. But the idea of planning each tattoo with one central theme in mind intrigued me. I wonder how common that approach to body art must be?
Obviously, the people who get whole-body Japanese tattoos are following that kind of philosophy. But is a gangbanger whose ink reflects gang sensibilities even though not coming together in one unified design doing the same? What about a person whose tattoos relate to the same general principle (religious art, for example) but are all done in varying styles or by different artists and present a mish-mosh of visual effects when seen as a whole?
What happens if a person starts out with one theme in mind and then goes off in a different direction? Can the original ink be altered to match the new theme? Should it be? I’m reminded of the tattooed lady in Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land who starts off as a standard-issue sideshow performer and then has her tattoos transformed into a religious work of art by her husband, the tattoo artist.
And what if some of the art is done by one artist and some of it is done by another artist with an entirely different style?
I guess what I’m asking is whether having a theme results in a “unified field” of body art or not. 🙂