In the early 20th century, the American artist Edward Burroughs expressed a new concept in art with his series of seminal photographs known as The Expanded Eye. The photographs featured the eyes of what appeared to be a group of elderly individuals with prominent tattoos covering their entire faces. Many found this photo series to be jarring, since it contradicted the concept that art should reflect the artist’s contemporary sensibilities. Instead, Burroughs’ photos seemed to suggest that a person’s artwork should remain static throughout his life. Essentially, tattoo enthusiasts believed that their body art should represent the way they looked when they were younger- not decades later.
When choosing a tattoo design for your body, consider how you want your personal aesthetics to appear to others. For example, there are many ideas for a traditional Japanese kanji tattoo. This type of tattoo is often used in Japanese traditional arts and can represent different ideas such as strength, family or death. To choose an artistic expression that suits your needs, consider the meaning behind your decision. For instance, if you choose to include the deathly terror of an owl with razor-like teeth on your shoulder, you may have chosen an artistic expression that conveyed strength while conveying a message you wanted to project.
Tattoos are considered art because they help individuals express themselves in unique and personal ways. Over time, people change and grow; hence, their body art should adapt too- ideally reflecting the way he currently looks and feels about life. A 40-year-old man who once thought he looked young may now realize that he no longer wants to appear youthful in his tattoos. He will either revise his old designs or avoid getting any new ones at all. As people age, their tattoos should reflect this change in demeanor by becoming more subdued or symbolic of their inner strengths rather than their outer ones.
While certain people find it empowering to have permanently visible evidence of their past tastes and beliefs, others avoid getting tattoos for this reason. Children and teens often self-conceptualize by comparing themselves to other people of the same age group. Having visible body art gives them a way to look at other young people and feel inferior or more powerful through choosing one expression over another. In this way, tattoos help shape an individual’s sense of self through aesthetic choice- but people need to be aware that tattoo aesthetics shift over time and that new designs will convey different ideas about how they look and feel about life.
A tattoo enthusiast’s body art should reflect his personal tastes- ideally reflecting the way he currently looks and feels about life. Since tattoos are meant to last a lifetime, artists will continue creating new designs as long as humans do; there is no end to human creativity. While some choose to have one specific aesthetic embodied on their bodies forevermore, others like Burroughs choose not to get any new designs at all. Ultimately, when choosing an artistic expression for one’s body, one should think about what those around him will think and how it will impact his sense of self.
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