Those who grew up in the popular culture still feel an affection
for the traditional designs they've seen growing up : hearts
& roses, crosses & other religious symbols, skull
& crossbones - even vintage 1940's pin-up girls and cartoon
characters - are resurging in popularity as a way to just
have fun and buck the current trend in tattoo fashions.
Although tattooing can be traced as far back as ancient Egypt
and China, (and onward toward Polynesia
the modern trend toward mainstream tattoos in the Western
world all began with a simple invention in 1891.
That's the year New York Bowery resident Samuel O'Riley came
up with the idea for an electric tattoo machine featuring
a pen gun with an ink reservoir. The result was faster and
more affordable "tattaugraphs."
Hearts, roses, Mom & more...
Business boomed, and later Coney Island became the center
of the tattoo universe in America spreading nationwide.
In the 20th century, World War I saw the rise in popularity
of American flag, eagles and other patriotic tattoo symbols
and icons. Later, tattoo parlors began to gravitate toward
military bases as the country entered World War II. The now
traditional rose & banner inscribed with a sweetheart's
name, the pretty pin-up girl, sailing ships, or the simple
inscription "Mom" became widely popular.
Also popular were particular place names, which helped soldiers
or sailors chronicle the various towns through which they
travelled or saw military action.
By the 1950's, the practice fell out of favor as tattoos
came to be considered the mark of street or motorcycle gangs,
punk hoodlums and juvenile delinquents.
Tattooing fell into even further disrepute by the 1960's
as a sudden hepatitis outbreak forced mass closings of tattoo
studios (in New York, tattoos became illegal) and scared many
away from even considering a tattoo. The tabloids quickly
blared banner headlines broadcasting the horrors of blood
poisoning and other diseases associated with "tattoo
Everything old is new again
However, as health codes became more stringent and laws were
relaxed, a turnaround in the late 60's was helped along by
tattoo artist Lyle
Tuttle, who is now generally credited for almost single-handedly
reversing the trend.
And the rest, as they say, is tattoo
history - as rock icons such as Janis
Joplin and fashion trend-setters such as Cher
became famous Tuttle clients paving the way to the current
mania for celebrity tattoos.
Today, the tattoo craze has come full circle as retro tattoo
designs have once again gained favor with the "anti-cool"
crowd perhaps making the classic tattoo in effect, cooler
For more, check out additional facts, information, and trivia
surrounding traditional tattoo design on the Web, including
symbols and meanings, tattoos inspired by classical or religious
artwork, as well as historical and entertaining tattoo tales
and featured picture galleries :
More information about traditional tattoos around the Web:
Archive - An extensive record of the art form told
in words & images including an A-Z glossary detailing
famous tattooists & tattoo events through the ages, with a comprehensive list of related resources..
Tattoos - Body Art - Feature story from BellaOnline.com
with facts & history on the rose as a popular symbol and
tattoo design, with short descriptions of rose colors and
their meanings, related links & suggested reading.