Fan Tattoos, History v Pop Culture

From what some of you may have seen from my pitches about this research topic, fan tattoos is something that genuinely interests me. Tattoo culture in itself has gone through a significant shift in society. Throughout histories and cultures, tattoos have represented a point of significance within particular communities. Wallace (2013), in her book Drawing with Great Needles, describes that in Native American tribes, altering the natural body through body decoration (both body paint and tattoos) projected their social role to the outside world. This is the case for many culturally centred tribes and peoples. Tattoos could identify a warrior, healer or another form of vital status to make it easier to identify the individuals and their importance to the tribe. However, from this point in history, tattoos have gone through a life cycle effect.

From tattoos being a sign of importance and respect, changed over the years due to westernisation and colonisation, the ideas and significance behind them shifted. Tattoos became a symbol of deviance and criminalisation. Australian culture is uniquely situated in tattoo culture, as many of the convicts that were forced to migrate to Australia had tattoos. Sutton (2016) described “at least 37 per cent of males and 15 per cent of the women were tattooed when they arrived.”. Tattoo culture in the convict era translated to gang affiliation and prison tattoos. A considerable amount of stigma around tattoos evolved from the stereotypes that associated tattoos with some sort of criminal activity. For many years that stigma existed, and to this day still sticks; however, many more people in today’s generation accept tattoos as meaningful symbols and works of art.

Perraudin (2018), investigated tattoos shifting from subculture to pop culture. From previously having tattoo parlours and shops being in hidden alleyways to tv shows dedicated to tattooing, it is hard to deny the significant shift. A part of this transformation comes the concept of fandom tattoos. Finding out where fandom tattoos all started, why they became so popular, the reasons why they are shared on social media platforms is extremely hard as there are no real accounts of how and why they emerged so quickly and became so popular on specific social media platforms.

tattooBy exploring multiple social media pages, sites and hashtags, it is undeniable to notice not only the unlimited content of tattoos but, especially those associated with fandoms. Pinterest is the biggest platform that I have found that produces all kinds of specific pages for fan tattoos. You can type any fandom in front of the word tattoo and a plethora of tattoo sketches and examples. Over on the side is just a few examples of doctor who tattoos that are found under the search “Doctor Who Tattoos”. You can get lost for hours in the enormous mass of tattoos that can found under this search alone.

Though Pinterest can be seen as the ‘Holy Grail’ of tattoo ideas. A quote I have heard many times, even from my own mouth, but equally Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter are brilliant platforms to source all your fan tattoo needs. It just about where to look.

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