Everything You Could Ever Want To Know About Tattoos

Anja K photographed by Emily Weiss
Anja K photographed by Emily Weiss
Anja K photographed by Emily Weiss
By Amanda Wachob
By Amanda Wachob
By Amanda Wachob
By Amanda Wachob
Jean-Philippe Burton
By Scott Campbell
By Scott Campbell
By Scott Campbell
By Scott Campbell
By Scott Campbell
Jean-Philippe Burton
Emily Weiss by Dr Woo
Photography by Emily Boyer
Nick Axelrod by Dr Woo
Dr Woo
Dr Woo
Dr Woo
Dr Woo
Dr Woo
Dr Woo
Dr Woo
Dr Woo
By Brian at Shamrock Social Club
By Diana Katsko
By Edward Gorey
Cara Delevingne
By Canyon Castator
By Canyon Castator
By Canyon Castator
By Canyon Castator
Bang Bang NYC
Bang Bang NYC
Bang Bang NYC
Bang Bang NYC
Tattooyou by Ikenavamama on Flickr

If you have one hour, six minutes, and 53 seconds to listen to a good podcast episode, stop reading after the conclusion of this paragraph. “Tattoos: Not Just For Dirtbags Anymore," is the title of such a 'sode, from the not only informative, but interesting Stuff You Should Know 'cast, and everything below this shall henceforth be considered a spoiler. A few fun tattoo-related facts:


- Ötzi (also known as “The Iceman"), the oldest known preserved human body, has tattoos. Because there was joint disease found underneath each of his tattoos, it is thought that his ancient civilization believed the marks would relieve pain.

-It's believed that the word "tattoo" comes from the onomatopoetic Polynesian word, “tatau,” which means, “to strike.”

-Sailors—or the men who explored the South Pacific by ship—were the first Westerners to have tattoos. Since sailors were not necessarily considered upstanding citizens, the practice almost immediately became associated with counter culture.

-In a strange turn of events, during the Edwardian era, the society's elite began adopting tattoos as a sort of status symbol, largely due to the opening of the West to Japan and their extremely talented tattoo artists.

-The 1891 invention of the tattoo gun made getting a tattoo more accessible, and thus made the art form less appealing to the upper class.

-Martin Hildebrandt opened the first US tattoo shop in 1846 in NYC (we’re so cool), marketing to mainly members of the military.

-After the highly publicized Lindbergh kidnapping of 1932, Americans began tattooing their children with their Social Security Numbers.

-Tattoo parlors in NYC were banned between 1961 and 1997 (maybe we’re not so cool), and were illegal in Massachusetts until 2000.


-Tattoos are created by piercing through your epidermis (which you shed) into your more permanent dermis.

-The needle on a tattoo gun bobs, like a sewing machine, between 50 to 3,000 times per minute.

-Prison tattoos, however, a typically done with things like a staple or a guitar string attached to a toothbrush and dipped into pen ink, burnt shoe polish, or melted Styrofoam or plastic.

-Blue and black ink are the easiest to remove, while green is the hardest.


-Blood born pathogens are a serious concern when getting a tattoo—going to a highly trusted shop is always the best bet. That said, if the shop is following the three-pronged safety approach (more or less the same as any hospital or medical center), there is a very low chance of any disease transmission.

-According to the CDC, there have been zero reported cases of HIV transmitted via tattoo.

-Tattoos done as permanent makeup—like perma-eyeliner or perma-eyebrows—are frequently done with metallic pigment, which can cause issues with brain MRIs.

-In most circumstances, the American Red Cross will not accept blood donations from people who have gotten a tattoo within the past year.


-In the US, the average cost of a small tattoo is $45.

-Approximately $1.6 billion is spent in the United States on tattoos every year.

-14% of all Americans have one or more tattoo.

-40% of 26-40 year old Americans have one or more tattoo.

-There are around 21,000 tattoo parlors in the US.

-17% of tattooed Americans regret getting one, 11% of tattooed Americans have theirs removed.

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  • Guest

    They are permanent

  • http://le-gypsetaffair.blogspot.com.br/ Hanna V

    this is really interesting, I love tattoos and even though I currently only have one I want to get three more as soon as possible. I think tattoos are a very beautiful form of art that you can carry with you everywhere for ever, how awesome is that

  • http://www.joannekilday.co.uk Joanne Kilday

    I think people with tattoos are still really stereotypes in society. I have 3, and hate that when some people seem them I am viewed in a negative manor, purely for the fact that I have tattoos. I think its ridiculous that people are so narrow minded. I get that tattoos aren't for everyone, but the majority of people who get them, don't just get them on a whim, its a thought out and well considered decision. Having a tattoo doesn't make you any more likely to be from a rough or poor background. I think the image of people with tattoos really needs to change.

  • Kerry

    it's regrettable these fine pieces of artwork are looked down on in some cultures...also, it really pisses me off when people are like "OMG, you'll regret this, it's permanent" 1) don't impose your own thoughts as mine 2) that's clearly the reason why the tattoo-removing industry is surviving

  • Sarita

    This is pretty much my view on it. I'm also indecisive, but I've decided that this is the year I'll get my tattoo. The design that I want is what I've wanted since I was 15. I'm in my early 30s now, and that design hasn't changed at all.

  • Rose

    I'm the same way—and currently have two. I wanted both for a very long time before they happened—five years for the first one, three for the second. I'm quite content with them and frequently get tons of compliments on them, too!

  • ashton

    My response was actually referring to the general reaction a society gives to people with tattoos. The commenter above me said that she felt people judged her in a more negative light due to her having tattoos. I think the city I live in has a different outlook on tattoos wherein they are more socially accepted. I was not saying people with tattoos are more openminded, I was saying that some cities are more openminded than others when it comes to how to perceive the meaning of tattoos.