First and foremost, hello everyone, I know it has been a while. Life has been hectic and I have been working hard.
In this post, I would like to talk about an ambition I have for the tattoo community, as an academic and a tattoo lover. It’s a way I feel the tattoo community could help itself, as well as well bring a greater love of diversity to the rest of the world.
I would basically love, if the tattoo world itself, started funding and proliferating research into tattoos /and body-art) and the people wearing them, the culture and community surrounding it etc.
To some of your guys, it may seem weird, especially to some people within the tattoo community (perhaps), that the they should get into funding research. But research is the way the world as a whole, learns more about something and cultivates a greater understanding of it. It is often how you improve something and make it both more accepted, and way more polished.
The reason however, that I want the tattoo world/commuity and some of the pretty large companies within it, to start funding and proliferating research themselves. Is that a lot of research done today, regarding tattoos, runs into a lot of problems, still caused by the remaining stigma.
Funding; First of all and perhaps the greatest problem facing research into tattooing (especially within the social science, which is where the most research is needed), is the fact that the people that hold the money, don’t want to fund this research. This is, at least as I suspect and would make a qualified guess about, because most of the people with the kind of money to fund research, neither have (at least any noticeable) tattoos nor have they moved beyond the stigma, that still seems to proliferate most of the more well off circles.
They do not want to pour their money into something that they fear would hurt their image, that (in sociological terms) would rob them of some of their cultural capital, within their own habitus/social context.
But this problem would easily be solved, if big companies within the tattoo community, InkedUp, Sullen, Tattoodo etc. began funding research, doesn’t have to be to researchers that themselves are part of the tattoo community, because the interest is there within the sciences, and perhaps it would even grow as more research gets published and the stigma in those circles, dies out.
Perhaps some of these companies, could create think tanks with renowned tattoo researchers, such as Lars Krutark, Paul Sweetman, Berverly Yeun Thompson etc.
So that they could more freely work on more research, or perhaps one day create a tattoo research institute with some of these guys, so that more academics could get into researching tattoos and that the research would be viewed as fully valid.
The Stigma within Academics; The second problem I see is quite strange and a bit more complicated, because a fair few academics these days (which you can easily find books and research on), are getting tattooed today. Anyone attending a university in most of the developed world, would probably be able to support this as well. Yet when it comes to working on and publishing research, mainstream popular demand is still king and in this case lingering stigma can really get in the way.
To an extent we already addressed this and I have experienced it myself, there is an interest in researching tattoos, the ESTP organisation shows it as an example (especially within the medical sciences). However, many journals, academic institutions and others similar to it, are weary of publishing tattoo work, cause it is still to them fairly stigmatised and it is, as mentioned before, difficult to find funding interest for.
Often their needs to be fairly large body of work, behind the publishing of research into this, before most journals and institutions will touch it, I sadly (and with some experience) suspect. Making it difficult for anyone short of a PhD and even for a fair few people with them, to publish any new research on tattoos, which is a shame cause we are lacking research (especially within the social sciences) into tattoos.
Honestly, the solution for this problem, is the exact same one as the first one, they are perfectly intertwined like that. If the tattoo world could get behind the researchers, whom are championing this research already, they could pave the way for more research and a greater more clear insight into tattooing and the world surrounding it.
The Point of it All:
Now I know full well, having been a part of the tattoo community for over a decade by now, that not everyone wants more acceptance or more insight, luckily I suspect that most people within our community find it awesome. But even to the ones I don’t, I implore you, see the bigger picture.
There will be much more good, coming out of creating more acceptance and understanding, through further research, than there would be condemning further research into tattoos. I don’t want this done, to get more people to get tattooed, I couldn’t give a shit even if less people get tattooed. The point of it all is, that when people learn to accept tattoos and understand people embodying their identity in such a radically diffeent way to most others. Then it won’t be much further for them, to accept many other ways of embodying one’s identity differently, from being goth and emo, to being openly trans gender or just having a weird or wacky style and the list goes on, and on.
Other than that, and this is more internally for the tattoo community, when more acceptance is created, it will be easier for our own people, to get jobs, participate in their local communities, get around when travelling, fitting in, nor being profiled and vilified by public institutions, and the list goes on. Their is just a lot more good in creating further acceptance and understanding, through helping more research get done. Than there is in condemning it and trying to drive the industry and community underground again.
Plus, and this is mainly a little bonus nugget of info I have wanted to say for a long time, tattooing for most of its existence when you count all of world history, was for everyone!
It wasn’t exclusive or underground, it was driven there in various different ways and for various different reasons (often religious to begin with) around the world. Even in the 60-90’s which many people hail as when it was true tattooing and underground, that is such a miniscule part of tattoo history, it pales in comparison to the rest.
So don’t hold back research, support it, make sure it is done right and hopefully in the future, our world will be funding the research done on it (hopefully without bias or corruption, as most research often is on tattooing’s side anyways, at least in the social sciences).
This is at least an ambition and dream of mine, hopefully you agree, even if you do not be polite and respectful if you want to criticise, I am sure we can have a good discussion.
Stay awesome people.