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The Committed Canvas

Journal Entry: Fri Jul 29, 2011, 5:09 PM

Tattooing has existed since the very beginnings of Neolithic human expression and has since those ancient beginnings continued to be a reliable flash indicator of personality type.  There are those people who get tattoos and there those people who simply do not.  Even though the social opprobrium for getting inked has greatly disappeared in recent years, and even though skin art has become almost boringly de rigueur amongst rock guitarists and other entertainers, there is still one element that separates the tattooed from the non-tattooed in terms of artistic appreciation: commitment.

Tattoos may be the first “interactive” art form.  The art lover doesn’t just buy an artist’s artwork – he or she becomes one with artwork, he or she commits to becoming a living canvas for the artwork, he or she, by choosing the tattoo to be borne forever, shares authorship with the tattoo artist of the artwork.  That’s what makes the art of the tattoo so endlessly compelling.  It is at once a social statement and a personal identifier as well as a work of stand alone art by the tattoo artist.  The “collector” of this art is more intimately involved in its care and advocacy than any museum curator, personally “owning” this art in a way far more intense than hanging a canvas on a wall.

My Questions for the ReaderHelp Me Write the Article

  1. Which author is more important in the tattooing of the body - the tattoo artists or the one to become the living canvas?
  2. Do you consider tattoo art to be the first “interactive” artform?
  3. How would you describe the unique relationship between tattoo artist and the person being tattooed?

dragon tattoo by embrace24
Mask Art on Skin by katrinapallon
spinal wings by Phedre1985
tattoo head by oczio

I am preparing a deeper look into this ancient and most beautiful art form. I  will further explore the concepts outlined above and also include in depth interviews with some of dA’s most prominent tattoo artists.  Please let me know if you have any thoughts, direction, or specific deviants you feel should be considered as I prepare the article.




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ACARRIELART Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
isso o que eu chamo levar a ARTE na pele.
DarkLordsDaughter Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I wouldn't say it was just 'commitment' that separates tattooed from non-tattooed.
I'd like a tattoo, but my pain threshold is appaling.
Plus I'd rather wait now and one day get something that means a lot rather than rush into it. While I've seen tattoo art that is beautiful in its own right, I've not yet seen anything that makes me say "That's me. I want that".
Larkynn Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The pain thing is my reason for not getting one too. I just can't let me do something I know will cause me pain. I have my idea and I do want it but I am waiting for the right moment to get it. (And when I have enough courage.)
auntaggie Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2012
I just typed out a great long comment and the damned thing vanished.

I have been inked a number of times and I love them. I have spread the word about the artist, telling people he does great work, he's confident and competent.

I believe both share the importance. I am the living canvas.

The wearing of specially designed clothing is also a form of interactive artwork. Inking is more personal.

There is a unique relationship between the artist and whoever he/she is inking. They have laid their skin bare for him/her to work on.
CreepyBear Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2012  Student General Artist
I'm not even going to answer the questions.

Personally, I believe tattooing to be the most beautiful way of expressing yourself when done right. It's gorgeous, it's bold, and who wouldn't love to be a walking piece of art? I really want to be a tattoo artist when I'm old enough. Of course, I also want to be a canvas!
monkeylove93 Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
i my opinion, i believe that both the tattoer and the artist are equally important. they compliment one another, without the tattoer there would be no tattoo and without the person who wishes to be the canvas there would be no platform for the tattoer.
so they share a symbiotic relationship! what is art without appreciation or anyone to comprehend or acknowledge ones expression of their deepest thoughts and secrets??
LUCKY13XIII Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
bout time!!
KristenKorruption Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011
I definitely think that it's the living canvas that is more important. Without a living canvas to work on, there would be no tattoo artist. The canvas so to speak is essential. Also, many tattoo artists wouldn't be inspired if it weren't for the people they're tattooing because most tattoos tell a story about a person. The tattoo is a part of the person and they're sharing their story with the person who is inking them with that tidbit of them for life.
devonthomas Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Professional General Artist
great stuff.
sandscreen Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I think that it's difficult to make a real separate vote on how it's the most important autor or owner. I think it's as on a recipe of a tasteful cake : the sugar taste good and the chocolate too by separate but when you mix it together the result will be awesome.
I think you need a kind of symbiosis between the artist and the living canvas. If the glance of the owner it's not clear and feelingful how can be the tattoo artist catch the right feeling to ink right. And at the same time if the tattoo artist have a bad perception of what you need he probably use the bad color tone or technical skill to ink you.
"Interactive artform" i want to say yex for the moment you wear your ink or you made a ink project with someone but i think it's more an Expressive artform. From the born of the first homo sapiens to today i really think that it's an Expressive artform!: to show to other which was your tribe, your clan, your past, your addiction, your thoughts. The interactive part was on the creation of the ink but after that it's more the expressive part we feel.
How kind of relationship we can have..... maybe you feel me weird but at this time i feel no special relatioship. I was inked twice and everytime i don't need to have a specific relatioship.'s not true. For every tattoo i wear i never find the right one to make me the right design.I made the design and color by myself and need a tattoo artist just for the mecanical part and i almost sure that if i had all the necessary stuff to ink i tried it by myself too.
But before you think i don't understand how it work: i'm a tattoo addict and i still hope to find the right one which can made the right tattoo for my next project. I think we need a real relationship between the inker and the owner a kind of old relationship and more important if we need various session to ink. We want a special feeling catched on the ink if we don't have the relationship i still search you probably finish inkedless or trying by yourself as me.
trilioth Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011
I love body art. I have yet to get a tatoo myself, but I would like a more warrior look to mine, something to accent the shape. I am still working on other things in my life, then I will hallmark my achievements with tattoos in such a way as too remain part of a greater piece of artwork, my canvas, my skin.
rm91287 Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011
1. The importance of both are equal in my opinion. The person that is the canvas is the one who chooses the form of art created and can influence both major and minor details as the work is created. The tattooist is the one creating the image and also has the same influence in the work.

2. Yes... yes I do.

3. I don't know.
mjspriness Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011
I Agree with tattoos being a artform! a artist has to basically "paint" it on ur skin! its made by the mind imagination and by hands! that in my book is ART! <3
liliumrex Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011
I am in agreement with which the tattoos are an art form, the art is a form to express itself and every one decides like expressing it
artwarriors Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Student General Artist
1) It depends of who chooses the "design". Is not the same to tell Ms Dixon or Mike Giant to put some of their art on your skin, or simply tell the tattooist what is his going to draw on your skin with his own style.

2) If not the first, one of the first...

3) Some of the ancient tribes from around the world uses ink over bodies to tell everyone who is the chaman of the tribe, other uses them as badges and other ones as a protective spell against bad things. Nowadays people get their favorite artist face on the chest, quotes, mom's young picture, some designs they love... It's up to the artist itself to bring out the real power of the tattoos. Some just make the crap they are paid to do, some make something else, some just tattoo what they really think it's going to look cool. So is just up to every case...
art2ponder Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011
The tattooist is the artist and the person wearing the tattoo is a buyer of the art to wear and show off. The person wearing the tattoo is not the artists they have become part of the art in essence. That is my feelings on it. However a person wearing many tattoo's of their choice can become an artist in the fashion they have decorated themselves so to present a canvase of their making.
Fiercedeity1770 Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Student Filmographer
Tattoo artists are very talented, but that's because the media they are dealing with is one of the if not THE most demanding for precision in detail. The markings they make have to be exactly how the customer or recipient wants them from the paper to their skin.

(The one drawback however is that a tattoo doesn't look good forever, as the person with it gets old it fades and loses its original detail.)
SkyTeArs Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011
Amazing it just amazes me all the talented tattooists out there, I still dont know how they do it lol but from all of us tattoo lovers THANK YOU!!! and never stop unless us start going blind or loose control of ur hands lol ...a special thank you to August (Lukes dad) for my amazing tattoo I love it and cant wait for another :) :clap:
Kristof-clg Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Professional Artist
1.- The one who gets the piece. Of course you have to choose (or draw, whatever) a design that you particularly like, a lot. It's YOUR tat.

2.- Maybe, I've never though about it.

3.- Complete trust. Trust in that the artist is doing his/her best on your tattoo. And as an advice, always have your artist, i mean i think it's necessary to have some sort of relationship/friendship. I've been going to the same guy for 5 years, you get to know how he tattoes and he gets to know your tastes.

That's about it ;)
unconformity Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
1. I think its a joint collaboration between the tattoo artist and the person getting the tattoo. I'm a tattoo artist and shop owner.. I work with customers on what their tattoo will look like. its their idea that i must translate into artwork. Some take this very serious others don't. to say one way or another would be inaccurate since sometimes they come in and say "i want this exactly" or others say "I don't really care i want you to make it look good" end result though is they have become a piece of artwork themselves.

2. I'm not sure I'd say its the "first" but i could be wrong. scarification has actually been around just as long

3. The relationship between the tattoo artist and the customers is a big deal. between the trust they have to have in their tattoo artist and the fact that artist is sharing his/her talents with the client. None-the-less there is a connection for life good, bad, indifferent. when you get the customers that are really into it and keep coming back you do form a bond with them... almost family-ish
sweetlave Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Student Photographer
1. I think the artist is more important - if he/she will put the love for tattoing into the work it will look amazing on any canvas =)

2.All art is interactive so it's one of the forms ^^

3.Well I think it's hard to describe but the canvas gets to trust the artist a lot. So i think trustworthy...and even this is not a good enough of a description...xD it deserves more than that....

Well and about tattoo artist - Kat Von D and all the artist from LA ink, London ink, Miami ink etc!!!! they are more than amazing!!!
I hope you will have a lot of amazing oportunities to make your article even better then what you expect it to be!
CaptainPuma Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011
1. the living canvas, if the artist screws up its permanent, it all rides on the canvas' resolve.

2. its not the first interactive form but its definately themost versitile one

3. much like that of a priest with someone confessing
Samedibat Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011
1: I think that neither is the more important , there is a life long commitment from the wearer that the artist simply does not have to make, but that commitment cannot be made without the skill of the Artist!

2: in my opinion ALL art is interactive so that is an impossible question to answer!

3: The trust between Artist and "canvas" must be there you must believe that this person that is just about to mark your flesh is capable of creating something that you will love! The Artist that I willingly return to takes my ideas and plays with them and I have loved the results and will be returning to him again and again. I'm having another set of tattoos done with a much more spiritual nature and that is something totally different. they are being Handpushed and for semi religious reasons. I totally trust this artist too but it is a completely different experience!
ivadeonaz Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
i think no1 no'z wer or wen it kame about bt ....whatz for shure iz the idea ov it has kome n long way from just tattooez....... id believe it has n great spiritual aspect that most look passed in the inked skin industry.. the straight thought ov imagery iz greater than word itszelf..... thus i have n interest in that field ov business........ for the same reason as any... doin it for for the sake ov lost n buried understandiz that we no not ther ov........... concluded... point... (oO.)
Iesacejs Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Student General Artist
Well, nothing to say... Awsome!! =D
pandakiki Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Professional General Artist
oh i would love to participate
Sick-little-Wolfboy Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Student General Artist
My opinions on Getting inked honestly vary greatly from others. I mean, i support the artists who put the time and effort into the work they do and the ink they put into the people they work on, but i have met too many "artists" who not only can't draw a straight line, but they have a "whatever" attitude towards the work.

I personally refuse to let a person who could care less do ANYTHING to/for me. If your heart ain't in it, you sure as hell ain't working on me. If you want a paycheck for it, go open a shop at a popular vacation spot and slap some of your shoddy work on a tourist who is getting ink'd cause it "looks so cool."

This also Brings me upon the subject of those who get tattoos simply cause they "look cool" or they want to "rebel". I honestly can't stand a person who gets a tat for such a shallow and cosmetic reason.

Getting ink'd is a lifetime commitment, a way of showing others how you feel or to truly express yourself in ways you can't say. so if you can't handle the stupid Kanji (which usually turns out to mean something completely different from what you've been told it means, jsyk) that says "Peace" when your 40, don't get it now.

Too many people get tattoos in youth that they end up spending hundreds to remove 10 years later because they regret it, and it could have been avoided if they simply thought about that prior. Thus is why ALL of my body mods and work MEAN something, even if only to me.
faithful-infidel Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011
I agree with you.
Choosing or finding the shape you will carry all your life and having it on you is something personal.
The figure might be something very odd or already very popular among tattoo artists but all that really matters is that your ink should have a meaning for you. It is not something to show off or to have it because it is cool.
Darkest1Cana Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Hmmm I definitely think that the person being that canvas is more important. If only for the fact that they are a living representation of the artist's work. Therefore the artist is going to pour a lot of time and energy into making them a good representation of themselves, as well as the person's ideas and emotions about the tattoo.
ElfianMagicworld Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011
awesome work!well?actualy I like tattoo but I wouldn't do it coz it hurts.But I thinks people who likes doing tattoo are one with it.Tattoo becomes part of this person and artist's instruments are parts of him( a kind of long arms)
NagiShiakuma Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Student General Artist
I think this is a great topic but there is a lot of debates over it all the time.

The question to which author is more important depends the relationship between the artist and the "canvas".

If the person is getting the tattoo to for themselves then it should be the artist's job to please the "canvas". The reason for this being the tattoo is important to the "canvas" and they are putting their trust into the artist to render a permanent piece of art onto their body.

The other relationship is the "canvas" going to the artist to be a canvas for the artist's art. In this type of relationship the "canvas" is giving the tattoo artist the freedom of expression to create the artist's tattoos.

Although I made these two categories, there exist a blurred line in all art so a degree of compromise should be made between the artist and "canvas". In this third type of relationship the "canvas" give the artist the freedom to stylize the tattoo so the artist can best create it. While at the same time the artist must respect the "canvas's" reason and wishes of getting the tattoo in the development and execution of the tattoo. Again this category is for the "canvas" and artist to discus. There needs to be open relationship in the creation of the tattoo but there needs to be a constant respect for each other.

For tattoos being the first "interactive" art form I can't agree because an artist puts there heart, sweet, and soul into their art so it is always "interactive" to the artist.

I kinda answered the relationship between artist and "canvas" in my first answer but I'll sum it up again. There should be a trust between the two. The relationship should grow as the tattoo is being created because the "canvas" is giving a part of themselves to the artist and the artist is putting a part on them on the "canvas". If a friendship is created is made that is great but I'm not saying it will always happen but a form of closeness should be form.

I wish the best to all who have or are getting tattoos. I also wish the best to all tattoo artist who are starting out.
arget-evarinya Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm gonna make this simpler and answer each at one time...
Which author is more important in the tattooing of the body - the tattoo artists or the one to become the living canvas?
The person receiving the tattoo, because they have to wear that on their body for all to see basically forever, although the tattooist is very important - not only to do a good job, but by understanding the idea behind the person's tattoo will help them create it to their satisfaction.
Do you consider tattoo art to be the first “interactive” artform?
Yes. You interact with it just by being. I'd consider it the most interactive art form if not for sculpture you can climb/explore/etc.
How would you describe the unique relationship between tattoo artist and the person being tattooed?
It's like a commission to any other artist, but for the tattoo to mean something, it has to be a little deeper than that. If not, the person getting it could really regret it. I know a lot of people basically make friends with their tattoo artist, it's a good thing to do and is good for both in the long run :)
Tambamjean Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Student General Artist
I myself wish to become a tattoo artist, to me its the most amazing thing ever, to have a living breathing canvas, to see your art live, to watch it walk out in to the world and randomly inspire someone.
beckycloonan Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Professional
This is way too big of a topic to cover in a simple comment, but I'll go through a few points.

Tattoo artists are exactly that, artists. They train, learn a craft, but have to be a good artist. They spend countless hours promoting themselves, making a name for themselves, and getting their work out there either as tattoos or as flash, just like any other commercial artist or illustrator.

As far as tattoos being interactive art, I'm not defined by my tattoos any more than I am by my book collection, or the art on my walls. Tattoos are personal, and everybody gets them for different reasons, so to say if it's interactive art, that just depends on the person. Saying all tattoos are art is like lumping a Waterhouse in with naruto fanart. I've seen some amazing tattoos and some amazingly shitty ones; people get inked for different reasons, and it's definitely not all art.

All of the tattoos I have, I've gotten to know the artist, become friends with some of them, made sure they were into the idea before I got it inked... I made sure that we got along, and that I liked their art and trusted them. I like to know that I'm getting something that I can look back on and remember not only what the tattoo means, but that the person who did it is a part of that memory as well. Some people will just walk in and get whatever by whoever, but to me personality is important.
Nabear Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
1- the one who chooses to become the living canvas.. its not the tattoo artist choice on what they can put on someones body. The one who becomes a canvas, it is their choice if they want to display art on their body.

2- No, tattooing of the body is one of the most 'active' artforms out there today and I myself am a tattooed person. I think having a tattoo and making that choice to put art on your body is a beautiful thing. I personally believe that to have a tattoo is a way of expressing yourself and also becoming your own person.

3- The person being tattooed is trusting and believing that this person.. a tattoo artist will give them exactly what they want tattooed on them. A artist is also trusting themselves and believing they can give this person what they want. When a artist has belief and trust in themselves.. they truly make an art on someone that exceeds what they expected.
eavo Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
i think both the artist and the person receiving the tattoo are equally important.
i don't know if it was the first people have probably been doing body paint long before they figured the methods of applying it to your skin. i wouldn't know where to begin with the relationship part because im the only one who has tattooed me but i have done others as well and to me its like the person is walking around with a piece of me on them like a signature or even a glance at the emotions inside of me if the art was an original design by myself.
rays-animelover Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1~ Both are equally important because without one, the other would most likely not exist. Without people wanting tattoos, there would be no need for tattoo artist, and vice versa.

2~ All art in my opnion is "interactive". It invloves some sort of give or take from the artist. Painting, drawing, singing, songwriting, dancing, photogrophy and every other art form takes time. Time to actually create the work of art, time to hone the skills necessary to further your understanding of the medium you are using. It also takes money (which is most obvious...) to buy the necessary equipment to create and finish the art, money to promote said art work. So to me, tattooing is just another artform for people to participate in, maybe the level of "interactivity" is higher that most other artforms, considering that it is going to be a permenent part of someones' body, but it is the price they are willing to pay for that art.

3~ There is going to be more trust put between the artist and the model/canvas because of the permenint nature of the art and the pain the model/canvas goes through (if they consider it pain). The model/canvas is going to have to truse that the artist is going to do what the model/canvas actually wants v.s. what the artist thinks would look good. And the artist is going to have to trust that the model/canvas isn't going to move or twitch horribly, causing the artist to make a mistake, and then blameing the artist for said mistake...

This is all just my opnion, and my experience with tattoos. I have two of them, one on each foot. They were very painfull, but I really enjoyed that I was (almost) able to live through them. I say (almost) because for my second one, I twitched really badly, which caused the artist to slip and kinda mess up the tattoo. It was entierly my fault so I have no reason to be angry I actually love that it happened, it's kinda like a scar, I survived that tattooing and only ended up with a little mark out of place. I had promisied myself that I would only get tattoos that I, myself, have designed, and only get some that I haven't designed if they are espically special to me.
AshleyAnimeTSS Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Student General Artist
In my religion its against me to get a tattoo .. although after reading this.. it makes me want to get one... because it's true.. you do become one with art, in a way. :D
CrippledSoul Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
all fuckin for it, my tattoo's are pure art!
vendetta-rin Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
tattoos to me is art that is worn and i enjoy all of mine. everytime i get one i feel like im someones canvas for them to experiment on or make there masterpiece on....
Madman-Mozen Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
How would you describe the unique relationship between tattoo artist and the person being tattooed?

The Tattoo can be recreated and done over and over but it will never "EVER" Be the same. Skin tones, Types, and other remarkable features that exist only in certain bodies are always changing the way a tattoo is seen. Tattoos also age with us. They may dull and change shape as our bodies do but it is still art that is practically living. A tattoo artist always has a connection with the canvas. Our canvases just happen to be the people we serve. An artist's unique style and the placement of the tattoo can also play part. I draw a koi one way, print it out, and then someone takes it alters it into an entirely new specimen of perfection onto a new body! Living, Shifting, Evolving ART! :D I love and fondly remember all of my work. I may forget one but as soon as i see it, i know, "hey, I did that, didn't I?" It's like a piece of my talent etched on the surface of another's skin. Probably 10% of what a mother may feel like. "I brought this into the world,"
Neville6000 Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
To answer your questions:


2) Yes.

3)As that of a mutually partnership in creating artwork; both need the other, or nothing will happen.
shiki-XIII Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011
arent all types of art work interactive in a sense?
knight4797 Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011
WOW so tempted to get a tatoo!
pagipopo Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011
I will not get a tattoo on my body. Having said that, tattoos are definitely art. I love and appreciate good tattoos on other people and know the history of tattoos very well since they have roots in my heritage.
FaDemian Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
tatoos are art for me .. they need to be design and, it's hard to do them ..
Tatoo's are really cool !! to.,
So even it's a tatto it's painted a million times.,. it's still a painting
Tatoo artists have to be really talented , they need to master from portraits to stylized designs. >..<
astsweetheart18 Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
As a person with tattoos, I may be a bit biased lol. Personally, every tat has a special meaning. But without the wonderful artists that inked them into my skin, they wouldnt be nearly as meaningful to me.
CrossboneZ17 Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I think tattoos should be looked at as art, simply because quite often people who get tattoos put a hell of a lot of thought into what they want on their skin for the rest of their lives, and they want it to be something meaningful in some sort of way. People's tattoos are like their poetry, they tell stories of who they are and where they've been. :)
mackenzie-m Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011
This is really cool!
FelliDaemon Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2011
I do believe tattoos are a different form of artwork. They become a permanent creation of a person's memories or dreams.
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Submitted on
July 29, 2011


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