There is a brand new show on the Lifestyle channel that I find myself constantly waiting to come on, Miami Ink. It is a show about a group of friends putting up a shop in Miami, continuously spreading their love and passion for tattoos to those who share that passion with them. Every week, they face a new challenge, like covering up an old tattoo, or having a new one redone because it’s misspelled. Every week, I find myself wondering why people even get them in the first place.
According to history, the word tattoo came from the Tahitian word “tatu”, which means “to mark something”. For years, colonies, empires and cultural tribes have practiced this quite painful art of skin coloring. The Greeks used tattoos to mark their rank and authority. The Romans used tattoos to mark criminals. Britons even had their family crests marked on their skins permanently. Japanese used tattoos to mark the sins of the criminals.
Seeing the people that go on Miami Ink, I know that they are not criminals, or Grecian ranking officials or royalty at that. The vibrating needle piercing their skin’s top layer seem to be soothing for them. I never really understood until this girl came in a few episodes ago.
Three years ago, her brother committed suicide. It was only till then was she able to get over the fact that her brother took fate into his own hands. She asked the tattooist to do her foot with the lyrics of a song:
i don’t ever wanna feel like i did that day
take me to a place i love
take me all the way
With that episode, i have come to understand that tattooing have expanded from just being labels of pride and sin, to marks of passion and morose, recovery and downfall. There are reasons that most of us cannot understand, therefore justifying the diversity of the individuals we encounter everyday.
Some perceive tattooed people as dirty; it is true that tattoos mark your blood and permanently excludes you in blood transfusion. Some find it cool; you must be a tough guy to withstand the needles poking your skin. But reasons are not limited to just these. Justifying an art form is like describing the borderline of what an artist can do to his canvass; vast and subjective.
Though some may never really come close to understanding the tattooist constant practice of free will by inking people other than himself, some will always be passionate about this art form that seems to be speaking to the heart even without having to open the mouth.
A picture is worth a thousand words they say. Tattoos, though they are on skin, are pictures nonetheless.