With newfound admiration and ever growing popularity, the tattoo industry is peaking the interest of lots of new talent and fine and visual artists with educated backgrounds. Because they are no longer considered outcasts living on the fringe of society, ink collectors and tattoo artists are now approximately 25% of the adult population. That's a fourth of all adults! Demand for ink is growing more and more and so is the need for the right talent to create them.
Tattoo is a mixture of visual and performing art. Its final form is similar to drawing, but with ink...that's permanent. It's a piece of visual art–but the canvas is a living, changing, human body. We are not immobile, or static, stiff creatures that act as canvasses hung on a museum wall for people to pay admission to see. We are living, breathing beings, and along with the masterful ink on our bodies, we become walking pieces of performance art, touring any where we please. Shouldn't that be enough for beautifully done tattoo work to be considered a fine art?
Tattoo artists are in many cases seen as only that, and are not given the prestige of a fine artist. Being able to draw and paint is a truly classical, traditional, and masterful skill. It takes years of practice, dedication, and refinement. Then they must transfer it to skin, something that is alive, and the canvas can move and can express pain. That is a whole other level of art. More than likely, this art won't be hung in a museum and appreciated centuries from now. Most of the time, the art is taken with the wearer to the grave. But shouldn't it still be considered fine art?
Most tattoo artists who also paint and create on more traditional canvases. They often have art shows and make names for themselves in the fine art world. The difference between fine art and tattoo art really shouldn't just be about the living canvas. Shouldn't its quality and content be more important on whether or not to distinguish it as a fine art or not? Talent, expression, skill. Aren't these things that are needed to be successful artists in both fields?
Image credit: Mark Madden