Atomic Threads Talk Tattoos!

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Love ’em or hate ’em, tattoos are becoming more and more acceptable in mainstream society, and most people now wouldn’t take a second glance at someone baring a heavily inked arm, or a delicately adorned back. The fact of the matter is, tattooing has been part of our, and many other cultures for longer than most would think; be it the strategically placed snake on the arm of the mother of Winston Churchill, or the loud and proud artwork showcased by people like Irene Woodward in American circuses of the late 19th century. So, being the suckers we are for all things old school and retro, we’re going to have a look at the changing face of tattooing through the eras and check out how it’s part of our lives now it’s becoming more and more popular…

La Belle Irene Tattooed Lady                                              churchills mum
         Irene Woodward                                                                                  Lady Randolph Churchill

A little tattoo history…

Historians have found evidence of tattooing from as far back as 5,300 years ago in Ötzi the Iceman (albeit used as a form of pain relief therapy), but the tattooing we’re familiar with nowadays mainly burst onto the scene during World War II, when men and women in the services would use the artform as a way of parading their worldly exploits to family and friends. This style of tattooing was relatively simple in comparison to the intricate, complex tattoos you find now – this was mainly down to the stenciling process as the substance used to transfer the image onto the skin would easily rub off during tattooing. These Old School or Traditional tattoos as they are now known, are recognisable by their bold, black lines and their limited colours and shading. They usually depict swallows, nautical symbols such as anchors and ships, and attractive pin up ladies, as seen below on the left. Other popular styles that have influenced the tattoos of today include Japanese (recognisable by images such as Geishas, dragons and Koi carp) and Polynesian (recognisable by thick, bold, black patterns which usually take up large chunks of the body).

sailor jerry        neotrad tat2

Tattoo influence in the 21st Century…

Of course these images will be familiar to you even if you’re not big into the whole tattoo scene as they’ve now been adopted into the world of popular culture and can be seen on anything from a pair of shoes to a bottle of rum! The Old School style has also been carried on through the decades and has grown and evolved into what is known as Neo-traditional or Neo-Old School (shown above on the right). The tattoos are now significantly more colourful and involve more shading and detail mainly due to advances in the machinery, and general skill levels improving. Being tattooed is also now considered to be a fashion statement in younger people, and the artwork is not just considered to be a symbol of life experiences, but (to the dismay of many serious tattoo appreciators) as an accessory to their image. This of course has spilled over into the fashion world and there is now a heavy influence of tattooing and it’s history in the apparel of 20 and 30 somethings…

tattoo toptattoo t-shirttattoo bordello

Tattoos and music…

Of course where there’s fashion, there’s music – back in the ’80s it was pretty much just the hair metal rockers like Mötley Crüe and Guns ‘n’ Roses (below, top) who sported visible tattoos and even then they were pretty minimal! Nowadays it’s almost a necessity to have 2 full sleeves, a chest piece and neck tattoos if you’re even thinking of starting a rock band; and the ink-itch has been passed on through the genres resulting in even bubblegum teenage boy bands (below, bottom) getting inked!

     axl 3                      nikki 2

         harry 2                         bieb 2

Rebellion or conformity?

Believe it or not, around a third of 16-44 year-olds in Britain are tattooed which begs the question; is it still considered to be a form of rebellion, or is it just a desperate attempt to conform? Yeah okay, back in the day tattoos were seen as a sign of deviancy and were only really seen on criminals, service people and Popeye; but with all the fashion-conscious youngsters getting tattooed and celebrities feeding the ‘badass’ image to their fans, is it now actually just the norm to go under the needle? If this is the case, we’re predicting a huge increase in demand for laser tattoo removal! Oh well, if the clothing business doesn’t work out we know what we’ll be doing! Atomic Laser Erasers? We’ve got some customers lined up already… 😀

drake 2ice tat 2face tat 2


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