Japanese Tattooing

Though there’s not a lot of information about it on the books, there is some evidence that ancient Japanese regularly anticipated in tattoo. Artifacts resembling statuettes of people bearing tattoo like marks have been found in tombs. It is believed that the figures replicas of real, living (at that time) people and are there to represent them following a loved one to the grave or beyond.

The earliest mention of Japanese tattooing is actually in Chinese accounts around 297 A.D. The Chinese spoke of it in derogatory terms because they thought the practice was for the uncultured savages. Eventually Chinese culture started infiltrating Japanese society to a significant extent so that the art of tattooing was
degraded into a form of punishment. In one area, the symbol for the word “dog” was commonly tattooed on the offender’s forehead. Other symbols used were double lines, crosses and circles. The designs were usually places on the face, or noticeably on the arms so that the person was obviously and irreversibly branded a criminal for the rest of his life.

The tattooed often lived as lepers on the outskirts of society. No one would hire them do business with them. They were rejected by their friends and even their partners in crime. Their families tried to pretend as though they never existed. In a culture where family devotion and social status are everything, getting tattooed was more devastating than getting executed.

Eventually there was a shift in Japanese society’s perception of tattooing and there became two distinct styles of tattoos. One was still definitely used to disgrace criminal, and the other was to signify a man of the highest status. The practice became a ritual of the samurai warriors. Soldiers were sometimes tattooed so that their bodies could be easily identified if they were killed and stripped of their armor in battle.

In modern times, Japanese tattoos have gone from punishment to prize. The unique style is studies by tattooist of all nationalities. The word for it is “irezumi,” which literally translates “insertion of ink.” Though some Japanese tattooists have adopted the faster, American style of tattooing with and electric machine, it’s traditionally done by hand. The design is drawn or painted on by the artist, and then the ink is meticulously tapped into the skin by striking a small, sharp instrument into the flesh with a hammer.

Though Japanese tattooing is now a highly celebrated art form all over the world, it still has strong ties with the criminal element in their culture. One of the most widely recognized characteristics of the “Yakuza,” the Japanese mafia, is their tattoos. The more elaborate the designs, the more powerful the mobster.

Full fledged members are encourages to have full body suits. Much like American street gangs, the Yakuza view extensive tattooing as a test of a man’s strength, loyalty and masculinity. Being of common ink lends a sense of solidarity and unity to the group. However, the practice is fading, as the newest generation of Yakuza have come to realize that getting away with organized crime is much more lucrative that looking cool while you do it. The distinctive tattoos tend to draw attention in a business where it’s better to blend in. They also make it easier for victims to identify someone as a mobster, and maybe even as an individual. Today, most Yakuza have shed the idea of traditional pictorial tattoos in favor of more simple line drawings or phrases, but tattooing is still going strong in organized crime groups of all nationalities and cultures. It runs as deep as ink into skin.

Temporary Tattoos

So you’re just not sure, huh? Well there’s no shame in that. Getting a tattoo is a huge decision. You only get one chance to pick just the right design and just the right place to put it before you’re stuck with it for the rest of your life. You’d be stupid to rush into something like that. It would almost be like marrying someone on your first blind date; only divorcing a tattoo usually requires surgery and leaves scar. Fortunately, you have the option to test drive a tattoo before you commit to it for life. Think of it as speed dating for your skin.

Temporary tattoos have been around for decades. You baby boomers probably have fond, childhood memories about Cockamamies, those fun little tattoos that used to come in Cracker Jacks and boxes of breakfast cereal. You just wet (usually by licking, right?) the back of the transfer paper to loosen the design and stick it to your skin and you’d have a tattoo for the day. You probably felt it made you look tough, like your dad and his service tattoo.

You say you’d be embarrassed to wear a fake tattoo? You’re friends will give you a hard time about not going for the real thing? Well consider that word, “real” for a minute. If your tattoo exists, then it’s real, right? It’s certainly not a figment of your imagination. Just think of it as a similar, but separate option.

Just like permanent body art, temporary tattoos have continued to evolve over the years, into a much more sophisticated product with many more options to choose from. The film industry helped push along the development of the product, because shooting movies that involved heavily tattooed characters, such as bikers, gangsters, or Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man, took so long to shoot. The makeup crew would invest a lot of time and effort into meticulously painting each and every detailed tattoo on the actor by hand, only to have their work quickly melt off under the intense heat of the stage lights.

Chemist, Dr. Samuel Zuckerman has an impressive list of accomplishments to his credit. He’s responsible for the Estee Lauder’s Origins line, the stripe in Aquafresh toothpaste and he’s the father of temporary body art. He invented the first skin friendly, authentic looking tattoo for the 1981 film by the same name. The film drew overnight attention to his invention and the amazement of the tattoo and makeup industries.

A few years later, Zuckerman and his son set about mass marketing the product. Today the Temptu company caters to the rich and famous as well as the average individual. They’ve added products like body glitter and stick on jewels, stencil-only stick-ons that let you fill in the color yourself, and even airbrush tattoos, which are applied by applying a stencil to the skin and painting over it with a special spray paint. Tempu products have been used on some of the most famous fashion runways, as well as on the big screen in films like Xmen 2, Rent and The Mummy Returns. It’s also decorated the stars of HBO’s mega hit The Sopranos.

Prices are fairly reasonable, even for the most elaborate designs. There are varying levels of application graces required, depending on your choice of products. Surely just about anyone can easily apply the stick on tattoos, but if you choose the paint on kind, you may want to enlist the help of one of your more artistic friends.

You don’t have to feel like a fake for opting to go temporary with your body art. Just think of it as an extension of the rest of your cosmetic lineup. On your average night on the town, no one will know if your hair is colored, if your bra is padded, or if your tattoo is permanent unless you tell them.

Religious Objections to Tattooing

Tattoos offend the religious of a variety of familiar denominations. The most dramatic example is found among Jewish believers, who deny a traditional Jewish burial to persons with tattoos, or even bodily piercing. Some Christian churches impose restrictions on bodily “modifications”. While 21st century enlightened individuals might take surprise or offence at religious objection to tattooing or body piercing, basis may be found in an Old Testament passage.

“Do not lacerate your bodies for the dead, and do not tattoo yourselves. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:28). By this passage, lacerations and tattoos so described were part of non-Jewish mourning rituals, intended to disguise the living from the spirits of the dead. This curious mixture of neo-paganism with orthodox faith is as fascinating to some as disturbing to others. While cultural anthropologists and the religious may wage holy war over the subtext for a tattoo, religious motives seem to weigh very little on choices by those who adorn themselves with ink beneath the skin or piercing it with rings. Some might argue that they should.

Vatican II Council’s declaration that human beings are called upon to view their bodies “As good and honorable since God created it and will raise it up on the last day” (Gaudium et Spes, #14) lends credence to opinions that some tattoo motifs seek to offend the more religious minded. At least, both secular and religious will agree that most tattoo designs seem less than “good and honorable” and so might seem “inappropriate” decoration for a body created by the divine.

The very consideration of religious objection tattoos raises powerful questions of us as a society, and equally interestingly, the degree to which tattoo wearers and objectors view what precisely makes them “human”.

If we judge body modification to be appropriate, do we need to acknowledge the reasons why others may not share our views?
Whether we like it or not our decisions affect our futures. Potential employers look at people differently because of holes in their noses and tattoos on their calves. Forget life-careers for a moment. How we look affects our ability to get a part-time job nowadays. And, if we have a job, it might be wise to check to our employer’s unspoken policy on tattoos and body piercing. While “prejudice” is unfair – it is often inevitable. Is it consistent with the values espoused by any civilized religion? Moral arguments won’t pay your bills. Staring at our navels won’t pay for dinner any more than piercing it will. Choosing between right to self-expression and self-sustenance might seem unfair but it may well be a reality.

My friend Lucian got his ear pierced for his 21st birthday. Friends gently ribbed him and his parents accepted it. Yet the law firm he interned at did not. His employer informed him he’d have to remove it during working hours. Since he’d just had the piercing he couldn’t take the earring out immediately or the hole
would close. He was faced with walking around with a band-aid on his ear for a month and a chip on his shoulder for a lot longer.

Some argue tattoos have religious significance and artistic merit. Do they deserve standalone appreciation rather than criticism?
No reasonable person openly says that tattoos or body piercing are “bad” or that people who have them avoided. Our love of art or religious significance is valid reason for self-expression. It remains up to the individual to weigh the risks and issues they enjoin. Some gangs choose tattoos with a religious theme and such a tattoo may be misinterpreted. As with all forms of expression, tattoos are no different – they are open to interpretation.

Perhaps the tried but true forms remain most valid. After all, you could always demonstrate your faith by wearing a medal or a cross.

Social Acceptance of Tattoos

Would you sit for hours and let someone stab you repeatedly? There are those who crave such treatment. Since its beginnings, civilization has possessed habits that were seen as barbaric and low-rent. Being tattooed has, in the history of the U.S., been seen as something that only the dregs and roughnecks of society would do. Yet in this, the technological, age tattoos have become a more accepted and mainstream part of society.

Some of those who are being tattooed today do so to be trendy. The most popular or–as many would put it–the most cliché, tattoos are tribal or Celtic designs, barbed wire, and skulls for males, and, for females, flowers, fairies, hearts, and butterflies. Still others are tattooed because they see their art as an extension of themselves and wish to be a canvas for their artist.

According to Tattoo Facts and Statistics online (http://www.vanishingtattoo.com), in 1936 Life magazine estimated about 6 percent of the U.S. population had at least one tattoo. The same article states that in April 2000, the National Geographic News reported that approximately 40 million U.S. citizens had been inked.

If you break it down by age groups, a 2003 Harris poll tells us that young adults aged 25-29 possess the highest percentage of tattooed individuals–a stunning 36 percent! Over the past few years, both the age range and the number of those being tattooed have steadily increased.

Tattoos are gotten for many reasons. In biker culture, one might get a tattoo to symbolize their affiliation with their biker crew, just as a gang member would have his gang’s symbols etched into his skin to show his loyalty.

For many, a tattoo is a passing fad, a craze, and is something they will later regret. These are most often the people who go with a group of friends to get tattooed because it’s “cool,” or perhaps some are those who would, in the thralls of a passionate affair, get a lover’s name inked into their flesh. These people are most commonly the ones who will seek out means of tattoo removal later on in life, ashamed of what they consider a momentary lapse of judgment.

And yet for others, a tattoo is a distinct and desired part of life–an expression of their personal beliefs and a work of art. Not long ago, tattoos were unacceptable in high society and were seen as the rude and brutal etchings of roughnecks and those who were of a lower standard. Throughout the 1960s, the rebellious, anti-social mind-set of the day helped to mainstream tattooing as more and more flower children were inked in defiance of what was “proper.” By the 1970s, rock and rollers began to proudly display their tats, and by the 1980s, many celebrities, from rock star to model to sports star to actress, boasted of their ink.

A History Channel program reveals that the earliest sample of tattooed skin which has been discovered dates back to 12th-Dynasty Egypt (1938 B.C.), but that there is evidence to show that, in Pre-Dynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt, tattooing might have been practiced as early as 4500 B.C.

Today’s age has been described as the age of the Renaissance for tattoos. An article by U.S. News and World Report states that ten years ago, tattoo parlors were opening at a rate of one per day in the U.S. Tattoo artists now advertise page after page of “Flash” art on their walls, ready-made tattoos for the customers who want ink, but don’t know what design they want.

In the past decade, newer, stricter regulations have been put into place to protect both the client and the artist. Cleanliness and equipment guidelines have allowed tattooing to become a safer form of rebellion for teens looking to shock their parents or to find a way to express themselves.

But for some, tattoos will always be taboo. In this day and age, there is still discrimination against those people who choose to be inked. Often, one will cover his art for a job interview, fearful that any potential employer will judge the person not by his resume, but by the ink in his skin. It is the same for the females who allow their skin to become a canvas. While those with the understanding see tattoos as unique and beautiful expressions of one’s personality and another’s skill, others see them merely as blemishes or stains on an otherwise unmarred surface. Ultimately, it is an individual’s choice whether or not a tattoo is a beautiful addition to one’s person or a beastly mistake to be erased.

Gang Tattoos

Much study has been done over the gang phenomenon, why people are drawn into gangs and why they can be so destructive. The typical gang member is young,
disadvantaged and lives in an urban environment. While there are exceptions, they tend to be male, black, Asian or Hispanic and come from a broken home with often absent parents or none to speak of. Another distinguishing characteristic of a gang member is his tattoo.

Being a member of a gang is like being a member of a large family, that you are initiated, rather than born, into. Getting a tattoo of something that symbolizes your gang shows loyalty and dedication. Perhaps in this case, ink runs as think as blood, maybe thicker.

Despite their growing social acceptance, tattoos have long been away to label those who rebel, or don’t fit into mainstream society, like prisoners, carnival workers, bikers, pirates and gypsies. The Japanese often used tattoos as part of a criminal’s punishment, branding him so everyone he encounters will know not only that he broke the law, but the nature of the crimes he committed.

Besides getting inked in the usually places, like the arms, chest, back and legs, gang members often get tattoos in more conspicuous and less popular areas such as the hands, face, neck and skull. Tats like these not only show their allegiance to the gang, but also demonstrate that they’ve turned their back on society at large. The larger and more prominent the design, the more clout its owner has within the gang world, and the less credibility they have with mainstream society.

Unfortunately, street gangs are synonymous with criminal activity, especially illegal drugs, weapons and the sex trade. Because of their illicit lifestyle, jail time is something they should probably plan for. If a gang member hasn’t been tattooed yet, he’d better hurry and get one before he’s shipped off to the pen.

Tattoos are invaluable to the prisoner. While they run the risk of being identified by a rival gang member, they will also get the notice of members of their own gang within the prison population. This means there will be people around that have their back. Being associated with the gang goes a long way to ensuring their safety behind bars.

The tattoo will also let other prisoners know what his status in the gang was on the outside. Respect is paramount to prison survival. If you don’t have a tattoo, you have no credibility. Either you aren’t dedicated enough to your gang, or you aren’t in a gang and are just trying to pose as a gangbanger to for protection. Either way, you better watch your back, because no one is going to trust you. If you go in the big house with no ink, you’d better come out with some.

Most gang related tats with simply say the gangs name and territory, but there are some more generic symbols common to gang members that aren’t necessarily restricted to a particular gang. One is the pachuco cross, a simple crucifix with three small dots above it usually placed on the hand between the thumb and index finger. This design is used by Hispanic gangs and stands for “mi vida loco,” or “my crazy life.” Southeast Asian gangs have adopted a similar symbol: three dots on the hand standing for the phrase “To O Can Gica,” or “I care for nothing.” The very same symbol identifies a Cuban gangster as a competent thief.

The stigma associated with tattoos may have lessoned, but they still remain a powerful aspect of a person’s character. In no situation is this more true than in a street gang.

Tattooing and Forensics

The most defining aspect of tattooing is its permanence. The design and placement of your body art says a lot about you. For better or worse, your tattoo will follow you through the rest of your life, but you probably never considered the fact that it will keep talking about you after you’re dead. Tattoos are one of the first tools a forensic pathologist uses to identify the deceased and sometimes even solve a crime.

Your ink will tell the cops who you run with. Street gangs, bikers and other clubs associated with illegal activity wear use tattoos to show their allegiance to their gang, and often to cement their exit out of mainstream society. Most of the time gang tats are pretty straight forward, spelling out the gang’s name and territory. Even if that’s not the case, the authorities are familiar with common symbolism and can use it to pick you out of a line up or identify your body.

Your tattoos are also a telltale sign of your socio-economic status. If you have simple, homemade tats instead of detailed, professional ones, it’s probably because you couldn’t afford any better. A sorority or fraternity tat says that you’re educated, and involved enough in your university to be permanently devoted to the Greek life.

Crucifixes or fish symbols denote that the wearer was from a Christian background. A rosary says they were probably Catholic. A hexagon tattoo may mark you involved in the occult. Satanist often sport “666”, the “mark of the beast.” Some members of the Aryan Brotherhood also use this symbol.

Your tattoos tell what your interests are, what’s close to your heart. What do you think when you seen a Harley Davidson emblem tattooed on somebody? You look around for their bike, don’t you? Depictions of dice or playing cards could label you a gambler.

Tattoos done inside prison, jailhouse tattoos, have a very particular look to them. There are either black or blue, always one solid color and made up of very thin lines. The jailhouse style has become popular in some circles, but you can tell a fake by its smooth, fine lines. Your tattoo can also associate you with a crime. For example, a falling start is usually particular to kidnappers. Three dots on the web of the hand definitely denote gang activity, but translate differently in different cultures. For Hispanics, it means “mi vida loco,” or “my crazy life.” For Asians it means “I care for nothing.” For Cubans is signifies the wearer has a talent for petty theft.

If you adhere to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy you’d better keep your ink silent. There are certain tats that tell a person’s sexual orientation. A pink triangle sometimes accompanies lesbianism as does a prominent bulldog on a woman’s bicep. A rainbow is one of the most popular homosexuality-related tattoos. Another sign may be a name tattoo that’s obviously of the same sex.

A tattoo can also tell about a person’s history of drug use. A spider web design, usually on the neck or skull is a favorite with IV drug users. Antisocial phrases also point in that direction, such as “Born to Die” or “loser.” It sounds drastic, but it happens. Tattoos of things most people consider disgusting or disturbing usually say quite a bit about the wearer’s mental state. Designs of spiders and cockroaches have been associated with the insane or mentally ill, issues that often go hand in hand with drug abuse.

Tattoos are obviously an invaluable tool that forensic pathologist can use to identify your body in the event of your death, but think about your life. Be careful what you label yourself with. It’s absolutely necessary to educate yourself before permanently inking something onto your body. The wrong design can associate you with things you may want no part of and drastically hinder your opportunities in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

For centuries, perhaps for longer than we know, tattoos have belonged to those on the fringes of society. They adorned pirates who sail the mysterious waters of the uncharted seas, gypsies who forsook the normalcy of steady work and calling the same spot home every night, people who did not conform to the way everyone else lived.

Tattoos are often associated with bikers, gang members, carnival freaks, prisoners and rock stars. Individuals perceived to fall into categories for which there is no place in the status quo. Are they the ones being rejected, or are they rejecting the restrictive, binding mold that many think everyone should fit in?

The 1960s brought about a series of social revolutions. The civil rights movement was coming to a boil, and women were carving out their place in the world. People not only became more aware of the flaws in their government and social structure, but were moved in mass numbers to do something to make them better. Tattooing became a little more mainstream because it moved people away from the norm in a time when the social structure was increasingly unpopular.

In recent year, people are getting tattoos to fit in rather than to opt out, but some of the stigma remains. Information is the key to abolishing prejudices of all kinds.
Take some time to review a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding tattooing.

Q: Does it hurt?
A: Well, it doesn’t tickle. A needle is being repeatedly stuck in your skin, sometimes for hours. Most people aren’t bothered by the discomfort enough not to get the tattoo. Of course, pain tolerance varies greatly from on person to the next, and placement of the design also makes a difference. Boney spots usually hurt more than fleshy spots.

Q: How long does it take?
A: That depends on many things: the size and amount of detail involved in the design, how long you’re able to sit at a time and the tattooist’s schedule. If your design is large or very detailed, you may have to break it up into several visits.

Q: Will I be more comfortable if I have a couple of drinks first?
A: Absolutely not. Blaming a goofy tat on inebriation is probably just an excuse. Most tattoo shops won’t even work with you if you’ve been drinking. Unless you’re passed out cold, (and maybe even if you are) drunks tend not to hold still very well. Alcohol makes you bleed more than you would otherwise. The excessive bleeding is unhealthy and may keep the ink from depositing into your skin correctly, and sometimes not at all. Besides, getting a tattoo is an experience; don’t you want to remember it?

Q: What’s the least expensive tattoo I can get?
A: Don’t be silly; would you trust a doctor who would take out your tonsils for a $5 bill? Of course you wouldn’t. That tat will be with you for the rest of your life.
Treat it like an investment. Choose your tattooist and design base on quality, cleanliness and professionalism, not how much cash you happen to be carrying at the time. It will save you from making an impulsive decision.

Q: How long does it take to heal?
A: Usually a couple of weeks if everything goes well and you take care of it properly. You have to leave the bandage on for at least a few hours, and wash the area with mild soap and water immediately after removing the covering. If you can’t wash right away, leave the gauze on until you can. Always pat the tat dry, never rub. DO NOT pick at your scabs. Do you WANT to get an infection? Always keep a fresh tattoo moisturized. Your tattooist should be able to recommend a great product for that.

Now you have a little more information, but these questions are just a jumping off place. There are many books on the subject if you need to know more, or make an appointment with the artist you’re considering to ask questions before you actually make up your mind.

Trendy Tattoo Ideas for You

There is the misconception that a tattoo is only a thing for someone who has spent his days in the prison cell. True enough, it had also been utilized in the past to mark a person who has done something wrong like a crime or a violation. However, this must not always be the case.

In the olden days, it had always been regarded as a body ornament that served whether as a symbol of seniority, ranking, right, religion, devotion, an award for someone’s bravery, talismans, as an amulet, or as a symbol of security.

In fact up to these days, some religious sects still require their believers to acquire that certain type of marking. On the other hand, such is also being practiced by the members of a gang. So this just clearly shows that the variety of tattoo ideas is applied for different purposes.

Some Ideas to Pique Your Interest

Are you fairly interested in having your own tattoo? Do you want to be a part of the trend? Are you cramming to find a cool idea? To spice up your quest, you may consider different styles that range from the historical up to the modern and newer ideas. Here are some suggestions for you to consider.

The sailor tattoos. They have never been forgotten all throughout the years. Although they may be a bit common to possess yet they bear a strong sense of symbolism. The nautical star is one of the best designs ever that is classically believed to bring forth guidance and strength.

The dragon tattoos. Again, they are one of the most ordinarily used emblems. The striking and bold dragon tattoos stand for strength and power. Their styles range from the classic ones up to the modern choices. For the women, the dragon design produces a sexy appeal while never setting aside the embodiment of the strong female strength and other related dominating qualities.

The modern designs. Indeed, a number of unique and new designs have come about. Included are the butterfly, flowers, and other personalized crafts. In fact if you are creative enough, you may come up with your own design and hand it over to the artist who is assigned to do the job on you.

The Best Source of Ideas

The first source for tattoo designs is your own creative inclination. Think about a cartoon character or a certain concept. With your creative juices pouring out, you may generate a sweet, sexy, strong, or tough impression depending on the design that you decide to get tattooed on your skin.

The next source is the tattoo library. You will find a lot of online websites that store as much as 10,000 and above designs from the classic up to the contemporary. Some of the websites allow free access whereas some others ask for a small fee.

Of course, you may browse through the tattoo artists’ catalogues too. If you are lucky enough, you may spot their personal creations.

There are lots of tattoo ideas to choose from. You may opt for something romantic, something that is tough, or something that simply defines your hidden side. Your decision greatly depends on the image that you want to project. Hence, you must be wise enough to pick out the right design and scout for the best resources that come available.

A Guide to Locating the Best Tribal Tattoo Designs

Finding a great design for a tattoo may be quite a daunting task especially if you lack the knowledge on how and where to look for it. True enough, there are several styles to choose from and all that you must do is to religiously scout for every single resource that you can think of.

There are several tattoo libraries online which you may check out plus the wide array of choices in the catalogues that come under the care of the tattoo artists. If you prefer the tribal concept, the very first thing which you must do is to think of the design that you wish to get inked on your skin.

Try to search for an amazing drawing with distinguished lines and contours that will best let the artistic and creative idea come out. It is also important that you negotiate with no one but a reputable artist who knows how to turn his craft into a worthy artwork. Nevertheless, you have a limitless option when it comes to the tribal tattoo designs!

The very Nature of Tribal Ideas

You don’t have to be a member of a band or a gang to qualify for a tribal design. It is your personal choice in the very first place! You have your own reason for wanting this artistic concept. By nature, tribal designs are usually complex, bold, and then prominent.

People have long said goodbye to the very generic tribal ideas because there are already numerous individuals who have decided to get them inked on their own skin. These days, the once typical designs have been made more intricate and creative. In fact, there are highly creative folks who enhance the tribal designs and incorporate their personal ideas too. You see, you can always let your creative juices pour out!

Picking out a Great Idea

For many, choosing the best design for a tribal tattoo proves to be a challenge. The real score is that it may both be complicated but fun at the same time. The truth is that it is never hard to spot a tribal tattoo design.

The challenge comes in as you decide on the perfect piece of artwork that will suit you. With an array of choices available, you may get confused. To further avoid these things from happening, here are a couple of tips for you to consider.

Search online.

Using your favorite search engine, you can simply key in the words “tribal tattoo” and you will get directed to a number of designs. Most of them are free whereas some websites will call for a minimal payment to have them printed or downloaded.

Join forums.

There are forums that are especially participated in by tattoo enthusiasts. Meaning, you can grab the best ideas from them with regards to the designs to choose from.

Get ideas from books.

Of course you can always buy a tattoo-related book. Online bookstores also make them available.

Get the help of the tattoo artists. The artists have their catalogues so you may feel free to choose from among them.

The tribal tattoo designs are limitless. It is always your call so better go over every single thing that may serve as your source. It pays to check out and widen your horizon so you can spot the best design ever!

Prison Tattoos

While certainly not every person with a tattoo has done time, you can bet most every person who has done time has a tattoo. Tattoos are synonymous with prison culture. However, there origin in the prison system is far from the status symbol they are today. For centuries, tattoos were used as a means of identification, and to mark the accused so that everyone who saw their ink would know they were and, many times, the nature of their crimes. In Nazi Germany, tattoos were used to permanently mark the Jews in concentration camps.

In modern times, prisoners tattoo each other to show gang affiliation, to symbolize their standing in the prison community, to make themselves look more intimidating to their enemies or just to pass the time. Tattoo artists may use their services to barter for privileges, favors or contraband.

Traditional tattoo equipment is not allowed inside the prison, but such rules are only a small bump in the road for those who are serious about their ink. Almost anything with some kind of motor can be used to make a tattoo gun. Electric shavers, sewing needle, guitar strings and syringes are commonly used materials.

As you can imagine, there’s not an over abundance of tattoo ink flowing through the prison system, thus prison tattoos are characterized by long, thin, black or blue lines. Carbon produced from liquefying any number of substances is a common substitute for ink. Melting rubber soles off of shoes produces a good that can be thinned out with water, and the soot collected from burning candles can be mixed with water for the same purpose. Perhaps the simplest supplies used are a sewing needle and ink from an ordinary writing pen. The absence of a motor will make the process much slower, but quieter and more discrete.

If inmates weren’t affiliated with a gang before going to jail, chances are good the will be before they get out, if they ever do. Gangs serve many functions in a prisoner’s life. They’re a source of protection, status and offer a sense of belonging in a world that’s very much about being out for oneself. Law enforcement officials pay special attention to tattoos because they’re ideal for forensic and identification purposes. They are also indisputable proof of a person’s gang involvement.

As tattoos in general become more popular in general society, prison-style tattoos are turning up on a sect of tattoo subculture that has never spent time behind bars. A prison-like tattoo in anything but black or blue is more than likely a fake, as is a tattoo that consists of more than a single color. Prison tattoos are heavy with symbolism. Some are pretty obvious and well know, such as the swastika, but some appear to be innocent. For example, a bluebird is commonly associated with the Aryan Brotherhood, a notorious white supremacy gang. A spider web, particularly on the neck or skull labels its owner as an IV drug user. If you’re considering getting a tattoo inspired by this style, make sure to do your research carefully to avoid sending a message you don’t really mean.

A significant percentage of the prison population carry with them a reminder of the rough lifestyle that landed them there in the first place: disease. Reckless sexual practices and drug use take their toll on the body, and are often associated with diseases, such as AIDS and Hepatitis C, which can be spread through contact with infected blood. Because the process of tattooing breaks the skin to deposit ink, it may be a factor in spreading disease.