Tattoos and the self fashioning of identity

Tattoo and identity

Tattooing is a form of self expression in construction of a cultural embodied identity. Tattooing has always been a symbol of identity in that the tattoos of the wearer represent their cultural standing be it the stereotypical notions of prisoners tattoos as they are stripped of any form of identity by the wearing of uniform prison jump suit, so their tattoos show their cultural position and act as expression of identity that not allowed to express in form of clothing.

But what when tattoos surplus the mode of expression that clothing entails and takes its own expression of identity that no longer does a person who have a tattoo is immediately classified as member of deviant social group. Tattooing is now seen as art form and the actual tattooist as contemporary artist with the body as medium instead of traditional canvas. Tattoos now are no longer individual symbols of self identity but can work as a coherent piece of art work; it is a combination of owners identity mixed with tattooist’s vision that creates individual art work that becomes a talking point and representative of the owner.

The twenty first century is an image obsessed, over saturated society in which images are over consumed via media outlets. Brands have signifying identity traits which we as the public signify with certain brands and the related aspects of status and identity. Artist Dietrich Wegner highlights this with his use of babies covered in fake tattoos of corporate brand logos, it aims to show the world in which they will be brought up in. Therefore the want of people to distinguish themselves by forms of tattoos is growing in the removal of brand symbolism and the related taste values associated so tattoos act as own form of identity in the dejection of brand symbolism.

Ironically tattoos are now being accepted and encouraged by fashion industry once when models were not allowed to be in high end fashion shows with tattoos as it breaks the barrier of model as hanger for the clothing foremost. Now many models are booked for their individuality. Chanel and Betsey Jackson have both released collections of temporary tattoo motifs the role of the tattoo as symbol for deviant social class is reversed by high end fashion designers promoting tattoos as latest form of fashion and accepting them, will this mean that the original aim of tattoo as form of individualism identity will be taken over by the very commercial giants that it is trying to resist?