Tattoo Design

Posted on March 29th, 2020

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).
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 anyone's artwork but your own. Avoid clip art.

Size can vary but the location of the finished tattoo should be considered and the design should work well in that area.

Step One:
Make a list:
Consider your unique life and list three aspects of your life that you want to honor.

Now it's time to make symbolic connections. Decide on the sorts of images that can represent your three chosen aspects and list them make another column to the right of your first. You should end up with one column of aspects and one column of symbols. worth 1 point

Step Two: 
On the same side of the same piece of paper draw 2 thumbnail sketches that combine your symbols. This is the most important part of the process. Time and effort on these will receive full credit. Avoid overly used symbols or if you use them think of ways to give them a fresh look. Do not copy any existing artwork. This is not a project where you should use cartoons, logos or existing tattoos. Worth 1 pt

Step Three:
When you have a sketch that you like, create a refined final version that includes ink and color. Worth 10 pts

***Please don't be tempted to copy other tattoos. You are the designer, not the copier!

Due date: Friday April 3rd by 3;00 pm. Worth 1 pt.

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