The world of tattoo… Art or business?
Many times we say that a tattoo artist is an artist, but why?
03 August 2022
The world of tattoo is very wide. Techniques, colours, shapes, drawings... Everything seems to be connected with something artistic.
But the question is: is it just business or there is something else? Can the tattoo culture be considered in art? And most importantly, is a tattooist an artist? We’ll answer all these questions below.
First things first: what is art?
There are many answers for this question, and perhaps many of them are correct. The problem of what to call art and what not is the old aesthetic problem.
According to the dictionary, art is defined as
“Any activity or product carried out with an aesthetic and also communicative purpose, through which ideas, emotions and, in general, a vision of the world are expressed, using different resources: plastic, linguistic, sound, corporal or mixed”.
Taking this into account, can tattoos be included in this group? The answer is yes. Let us explain to you why.
When we reflect on art, we tend to think about paintings, sculptures, music, plays in museums or theatres.
As a matter of social canons, works of art have been protected and linked to the elite.
However, the reasons to classify something as artistic have changed in the last years.
Since our society is always trying to assimilate new ideas about art and its commercialization, should tattoos be considered as an artistic expression?
Something artistic can be defined in many ways, but the main point is that art is a means of expression.
Is being a tattoo artist the same as being an artist?
Before anything, what is an artist? And what is a tattoo artist?
If we look it up in the dictionary, the definition of artist refers to someone who thinks, creates or produces artistic work.
Before dedicating themselves to tattooing, many tattoo artists were painters, draftsmen, graphic designers or even graffiti artists. Many of them always wanted to become tattoo artists, others chose other paths before becoming tattoo artists.
In fact, many continue working in both worlds at the same time.
The question of when a work of art is considered as such is open to debate. But it is quite clear that these branches of the visual and plastic arts are or could be regarded as works of art.
So we could say that at this point it is not wrong to think of the tattoo artist as an artist. You can be both things at the same time. In fact, there are those who believe that one thing can’t exist without the other.
Many tattoo artists dedicate their time only to tattooing. On the contrary, some other tattoo artists explore other disciplines to stand out thanks to their designs.
This is what we call the tattooing style. Getting tattooed by one of them also depends on the style you want to have on your skin. In this sense, there are those who seek to be the canvas of the tattoo artist and their works.
What does the tattoo artist offer?
If we understand the tattoo as an art, we can think about that creation and its particularities.
In this case, the artistic piece has something different to the rest: the canvas is not an object but a person.
The relationship between tattooist and tattooed person becomes closer, it is a combination between what the tattooist is looking for and what the tattooed person wants.
So, to answer the question, We could say that they offer their knowledge, their tools, their artistic and creative skills, but above all, the time they dedicate to the client.
A very recurrent topic when talking about art is that artists leave part of their lives in each work. Is it appropriate to charge for that? Combining art and business is often badly regarded, but the truth is that the art industry has always existed.
Dedicating so much time to something can be exhausting, and putting a value on work is part of caring for it, understanding it and protecting it.
We cannot really state if it is right or wrong to charge for something, but we can understand that, apart from art, it is a job, and people make a living out of it.
Sometimes combining what one would like to do with the needs of the company or the client is difficult, but it is important to understand that everything happens in the right time, depending on the pace and needs of each person.
Although, it is difficult to put a price on the effort, we encourage all tattoo artists to value their work and have a self-criticism and realistic criteria.
Machines, equipment, tools, inks, and studios cost money, but above all, the time you spend to get it, the hours of practice and the path cost money.
Therefore, if you want to know more, you can check out our article on What is the salary of a tattoo artist? where we’ll tell you everything you need to know and clear up any doubts.
But then… Is it business and art at the same time?
The tattoo culture is really exciting, and it is an art that speaks of many cultures and societies. It even made an impact in history, not only on skins.
Tattoos are art, expression and passion, and, although there may be cases where the tattooist only seeks the greatest possible monetization and the tattoo is only his source of income, there are those who think differently.
But neither is better than the other. We could not determine what is right and what is wrong, since all paths are very personal and very different.
Seeking its commercialization does not mean it is not valuable as an artistic expression. It is a way of surviving for the professional in the market. Price does not imply the loss of its symbolic value.
What do you think about this? Are you a tattoo artist or an artist? Drop us a comment.
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