If we look back at the first tattoos we can say that the styles were still few and ill-defined.
We are not talking here about the origins of the art, lost in the mists of time, but the first skin art to be featured in magazines or seen on the streets, on the beaches, in photo features in the sector. Traditional, tribal, realism, oriental, these were probably the four major categories within which pretty much every tattoo, regardless of subject – or concept – could be placed. It’s not so simple any more.
One of the effects of globalisation, the speed with which we exchange information in the modern digital age, is the cross-contamination of styles and the birth of new genres which elude any kind of definition. Japanese is now done in the western style, old school has turned into new school, tribal has been enriched with colour and previously unheard of geometric elements, realism is being taken to almost expressionist heights with a detour into biomechanics, cartoons, and manga, and the style which once belonged to the world of graffitti and urban art meets ancient or folk traditions from areas around the globe that are literally worlds apart.
The culture, folklore and art of different peoples and periods come together in surprising and original creations.
Avantgarde, Art brut, Trash-polka, Minimalism, literary, cinematic and mythological references, then going right back to its origins with tattoos being done by hand and only in black. Experimentation in tattoo art has reached the highest levels. Tattoo artists all over the world embark on daring pieces which we can all admire in glossy magazines and on the skin of those we meet. The aesthetics of tattoo can touch anybody now. This art has evolved so incredibly rapidly, from the ghetto to the ordinary, to become an expression of the utmost freedom that knows no bounds.
Sometimes it is practically impossible to talk in terms of styles and prepackaged tattoos have virtually died out: you can’t to confine the art of tattoo to any definition, cage it within some sort of framework. Those who do tattoos and get tattoos choose them from an infinite range nowadays. We try to bear witness to our times while still having the utmost respect for the past. But if we only open our eyes we can see the future is already here.