Tattoo Design

Posted on May 7th, 2019

British biologist and naturalist Charles Darwin made the following observation about tattoos – “There is no nation on earth that does not know this phenomenon.” Tattoos have been with humankind to the far reaches of history and the far corners of the earth.

History of tattoos around the world:

Tattooed mummies, preserved for thousands of years, have been found in Egypt, Libya, South America, China, and Russia. Even the Neolithic “Iceman,” the 5000-year-old cadaver found frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991, had tattoos! Thought to have been originally used as camouflage for hunting, tattoos have become a cultural norm for tribes in Polynesia, Borneo, the Pacific Islands, and Somoa. Most famous of these are the moko markings (engraved facial tattoos) of the Maoris in New Zealand.  China, Russia, India, and Japan also have rich histories of tattooing.

The word “tattoo” itself first showed up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 1777. Though the origin is somewhat unclear, most historians trace it back to Captain James Cook, who returned to Europe from a South Pacific expedition in 1769. He described the markings of certain Tahitian tribes. They called the markings “tatau” meaning “to mark” (though Cook originally spelled it “tattaw”). That’s most likely where our current word comes from, though the practice existed for thousands of years – and has no doubt been called by dozens of names in dozens of countries – throughout history.

During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, tattoos were favored by royalty and the elite. Tattoos could be found on the likes of Queen Victoria’s grandsons (Prince George and Prince Albert), on Winston Churchill (AND his mother!), on President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and on the members of the wealthy Vanderbilt family.

Around the mid-1900’s, tattoos fell out of favor among the elite, but the practice was kept alive in the west by sailors, who used tattoos to mark significant accomplishments in their voyages (e.g. after traveling 5000 nautical miles, a sailor could get a bluebird or sparrow tattoo).
Using Adobe Illustrator design a personal tattoo that has symbolic connection to some aspect of your life. It can spring from the traditions, beliefs, and characteristics of your family. It can also represent important events, interests or people in your life. It should not be a copy of an existing tattoo or of anyones artwork but your own. Avoid clipart.

Size can vary.

Step One: Brainstorm ideas by doing some sketches. Think about what sort of aspects of your life you would like to represent. Next think about images that can symbolize them. Hint: Avoid overly used symbols or if you use them think of ways to give them a fresh look. When you have an idea that you like, work to refine it on paper so that you have a good image to scan.

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