Marta Churchwell: Internet has transformed, refined art of tattoos

Marta Churchwell: Internet has transformed, refined art of tattoos

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Marta Churchwell: Internet has transformed, refined art of tattoos

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JOPLIN, Mo. — Many years ago, when I was a social worker for a domestic violence shelter, one of my clients questioned why people were stand-offish toward her. I suggested that it was the "Aryan Nation" tattoo that was boldly emblazoned across her chest.

I have no objection to tattoos. I have one myself. They’re great forms of self-expression.

But using our bodies for permanent, in-your-face social commentary can be dicey. If you’re going to use your body for an expressive canvas, be creative with it.

That’s what it’s all about today. Gone are the days of chintzy tattoos enticed by a belly full of rum in a swaggering sailor.  

Now, tattoos are considered an art form. The skin is simply one medium for artists who frequently dabble in other mediums. It has become such a recognized artistic movement that a Paris art museum currently has an exhibition celebrating the cultural history of tattooing and showcasing tattoos as art.

The exhibit traces the tradition of tattooing back thousands of years. It relates that tattoos were found on a Neolithic iceman, and they’ve been uncovered on Egyptian and Syrian mummies from 2,000 years ago.

Local tattoo artist Mike DeClue isn’t wrong when he declares tattoos to be second only to cave drawings as the oldest form of art.It is also an art form that has gone from crude sketching on the skin to illustrative masterpieces."I’ve seen it explode artistically," said DeClue, who has been inking people for 23 years. "There’s no limit. If you have an idea, we can do it."Technology has helped, said Nicole Wicks, a Neosho tattoo artist of 12 years. Improvements in ink and equipment have refined the art. So have computers that allow images of design ideas to be scanned and manipulated until the artist can give customers exactly what they envision."It’s like being a commissioned artist," said Wicks.What has built it into such a popular art movement is the Internet, according to […]