The Tattoo’s Place in Youth Culture

Tattoos and piercings have come a long way since the hazy days of sailor and convict endorsed skin ink. More importantly, attitudes, roles and reflections on body art have evolved to mirror an increasingly accepting society. Tattoos shine an inky light for youth culture today. They represent a fresh new generational wave of individuals shaking society’s formerly constrained glass walls.


Tattoos are generally acknowledged, with affirmation or contempt, as a form of self-expression. 21st century youth culture values individuality as the creative key to achieving self-identification. In this light tattoos offer a thrilling permanency to the idea of expression. Young people are reaching unprecedented heights of visual awareness, this dark nod to the media’s image of ‘perfection’ is beautifully contrasted with a deep appreciation for art and other visually stimulating pursuits. Tattoo lovers will undoubtedly reference their work as art. Using the human body as a blank canvas induces a certain spine tingling thrill with the revelation that we are creatively free, regardless of your position on ink needles.



In contrast with this supposed freedom, tattoos in the workplace remain a topical concern. The vision of a casual inked heart proclaiming ‘I Love Mum’ on the exposed lower arm of your friendly neighbourhood doctor conjures images of frightful surgery room stand-offs between said doctor and enraged prescription wielding pensioners. However, tattoos and related practices reflect the development of professionalism and the continual evolution of the so-called ‘workplace’.


The acknowledgment of art and creative media as profitable career paths in a society, previously dominated by carefully allotted employment areas (such as local doctor, tattooed or otherwise), heralds the expansion of the career sector. Young people today are subconsciously revolutionising the idea of employment. Self-employment and entrepreneurial outlets allow for the strength of individuality to shape how we define a working environment. Consequently, tattoos and other visually expressive work are not restricting employment opportunities for working individuals. In some cases, the artistry of tattoos is an asset to achieving recognition in creative working environments.



Tattoos balance the thin line between self-expression and the dominance of popular culture. Having reflected on these conventions growing acceptance in society it is important to consider the potentially negative aspect of tattooing. Getting senseless tattoos for the sole purpose of being on trend is against the original concept of unique self-identity. Inking a fashionably irrelevant tumblr-esque motif across one’s chest is debatably equivalent to flogging this seasons over-priced ‘It’ bag along with thousands of other consumerism devotees on the world’s subways. Like all art, tattoos without originality fall short of their potential beauty. As in life, external devices should enhance your personal expression not cloak it in the anonymity of trends.


Tattoos are losing their taboo label and enjoying the creative acknowledgment they deserve – so think twice before dismissing the ink.

Let us know what you think in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.


Words : Katie Curran


Tags: #tattoos #piercings #youthculture #creativity

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