As I have mentioned in previous posts, social media plays a vital role in the fan tattoo process. Through further observation of online forums, various fan pages, and musicians/celebrity pages, it is indisputable to notice the demand and engagement for tattoo content.
Individuals in fandoms are intrinsically linked together through the bond of loving the same thing. Whether that be a show, movie series, books or bands/musicians. With celebrities being a significant influence on social media such as Twitter and Instagram, fans and fandoms flock to their pages and create their own, dedicated to their fandoms. My big question about fandom tattoos, why they are shared, created and ideated on online platforms has copious answers.
A notable factor, I hypothesised would be so fans would gain recognition from the person associated with the fandom. For example, I fan may post to their Instagram or Twitter, showcasing their tattoo in hopes it will get retweeted, liked or shared by the people/person the fandom is for. This seems to be the biggest reason why fans will post pictures and their tattoo designs to social media.
In two separate instances, as I was looking through my own social media pages, I happened upon this exact idea. One was on Instagram, a smaller band (not so globally known that is) reposted on their Instagram story the post of someone getting the frontmen tattooed on their shoulder. This is a practice they often do, and many other smaller artists do as well because their social media isn’t saturated with as many fans pining for attention or recognition.
The second situation occurred when scrolling through my home page on twitter (for which I follow a significant amount of celebrities relating to fandoms). I came across a tattoo thread for a duo Jack and Jack. A fan tweeted out a photo of her tattoo asking to see what other fans have gotten concerning the duo and tagging both of the artists and their official band pages. Many fans commented on the thread and were recognised by one part of the pair and were liked and retweeted. Musicians, in particular, are more known for engaging with tattoo content in their name.
The second reason I have come to believe fans share their fandom tattoos online is for other fans. Fandoms, especially online, become a safe space to interact with others with the same interests and similar. In some situations, fandoms can become a sort of family, and they share their ideas, OTP’s and even tattoos with each other. This can be so other fans can find ideas for their own tattoos or get a tattoo that fits more within the aesthetic of specific fandoms. Tumblr especially is a platform that uses threads and hashtags to share their fandom knowledge. Pages are dedicated to fan culture and fandom experiences, where tattoos, stories, drawings, and so much more are shared with one another (I would insert video clips of examples, however much of Tumblr is NSFW).
Then we have Pinterest. As I have mentioned before ‘Holy Grail’ of tattoo ideas and sharing. To not get lost in the tattoo of it all is virtually impossible because of the amount of content it has on the site. Though it isn’t specific pages or fans interacting with each other, there is more fandom tattoo content on here than anywhere else. The idea of sharing tattoos on here is again a part of fans sharing their tattoos with other fans for the purpose of connectivity. By sharing their tattoos with each other, there is a sense of togetherness and belonging.
From a participant, I interviewed about her own fan tattoo corroborated this idea. In a Twitter thread from many years ago, she shared her fan tattoo with other fans asking about which lyrics of Paramore songs they have tattooed. She shared her tattoo, not in hopes of getting recognised by an artist or celebrity but to interact with other fans that had the same interest in the band that she did. Lyrics are a prevalent type of fan tattoo and ones that are a deal more personal. Instead of a symbol of a band, the face of a celebrity, lyrics can showcase certain aspects of the individual’s life and love for band or artist. By sharing specific lyrics, it creates a much stronger bond within fandoms.
Fandoms are very special in the way they communicate with each other, create together and interact with their idols. Fandom tattoos in themselves are interesting as they showcase the absolute extreme nature of fans and fandoms. By sharing their extremes, they can get direct contact with celebrities and the individuals associated with their fandoms. Not only this it is undeniable to see that fans don’t just do this for the recognition but for communication with other supporters such as themselves.