Monday, April 30, 2007

At a dinner a few months ago with some folks who work in the tattoo industry, I voiced my opinion that the current fascination with all things tattoo-related was nearing an end. After all, how many tattoo reality TV shows, books, magazines, etc can the public really absorb? So imagine my surprise when the other day I walked by the Macy's department store here in Manhattan and saw their latest window displays which are built around classic tattoo imagery in support of a new line of clothes sporting Ed Hardy's designs. Does the tattoo fad still have legs? Or is this the death knell? Can tattoos maintain their "street credibility" now that they have been whole-heartedly embraced by mainstream corporate America? In the end, it doesn't really matter to me; but it must come as a bit of a blow to those who got tattoos in order to cement their personal "rebel" status. I wonder if tattoos can go the way of the skull - once used to strike fear in the hearts sailors by pirates, but now suitable for baby clothes. In an age where tattoos are increasingly common, can they still be thought of as marks of individuality?


woodyBatts said...

Interesting you bring this up.

The Ralph Lauren "Rugby" store on University Pl has a setup of a tattoo parlor and sailor jerry tattoos on the mannequins right now.

I like to think that it's an acceptance that tattoos are a part of american culture. New York Times had an article a while back about the descriptions iraqi people had of american soldiers. The descriptions always included tattoos. I can definitely see where in 5000 years when historians look back at americans they will inevitable discuss the use of tattoos.

Another thing to consider is that in New York, and in particular Macy's. Many artists have decorated thier window displays such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, especially Keith Haring was at the center of the High/Low art debate. Maybe this is also trecognizing tattooing as an artform that has been widely accepted in america.

or maybe they just wanna sell some jeans ;)

関東彫初代彫俊一門 彫みつ/HORIMITSU said...

I'm a horitoshi family Horimitsu
in Japan.

How is horizakura(shinji)?
I am glad to be able to watch work of Horizakura.
In addition, I come to play.
see you.
Honey TATTOO Japanese trad.

Mike said...

Woodybatts - interesting, I hadn't really thought of tattoos being a particularly American thing when compared to other regions / cultures. I'd love to see some studies on that if you ever come across any.

Horimitsu - Shinji is good. I will pass along your message. I think the correct link for your site is ? Unfortunately, I can't get it to load. :( I'll also have to check out . Thanks for stopping by! I'll be in Kyoto and Tokyo later this month, what city are you in?

JD said...

Maybe tattoos will finally be accepted by the general public as the artform that they are. But that can only happen if the artform can distance itself from those that want to drag it back into its seedy past.

Anonymous said...

There is a boutique in Soho near Pearl River that sells hoodies and shirts with Horiyoshi III designs. The shirt tags have little blurbs about the Horiyoshi family and tebori. Naturally they are ridiculously expensive (compared to American Apparel).