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Eternal ink. Getting a tattoo has for the last decade been as common as buying a new sweater or colouring your hair. Joakim Sjunnesson reflects upon the possible reasons why so many of us have tattoos nowadays.

3 min read

It’s a Friday in darkest December in central Stockholm. I walk through a non-branded understated door. “Have you had one before?”, asks the person at the reception desk. “Yes, I've three of them”. My response is, to judge from observation, not rare. On the contrary. Today, every other person today have rash ink stained on their bodies. How come? Is it about being insure, or looking like any other footballer? Or are we just more obsessed with our abilities to alter our bodies? Or simply to manifest our aesthetic awareness in ways that reminds ourselves and others that we are special? 

We've been getting tattoos since the dawn of time in order to communicate different religions, beliefs, pagans, tribe symbols etc. It’s both a practice and a way of signaling belonging to certain groups, ideas, ideals. It’s about identity. However, this identity needs a bit of reflection in current social terms. 

“It’s like getting accessories for yourself only that this is for life. You have to live with it” At least in theory - it is both possible and almost affordbale to remove a tattoo these days. Regardless, it's telling. To accessorise. To stand out. To be unique. To make a choice. At least in theory (you can of course remove tattoos as well). Maybe we need the idea of something irreversible today, a piece of living art forever painted onto our most symbolic of body parts - our skin. 

I think that we want to find something that is forever, a commitment. Something to stick to. Everything around us changes all the time and we are constantly urged to update our appearances and styles. To be flexible and fast. We then need something solid. This, that we want to ink our bodies in eternity, could be seen as a desperate and narcissistic way of trying to be “unique”, a way to nurse our growing vanity. We’re part of the tribe even though the tribe is not necessarily religious. Maybe it's just another way to mark our sense of community. Going through the ritual. 

However, even if all of this can be said to be true, I chose to see it as a way to dedicate myself to my love for graphic art. It reflects my aesthetic sense of being in this world. And pure vanity, of course. 

What did I get and where? I got two. Both black. Graphic lines. Arm and chest. An homage to architecture and my Francophile leanings. 

I admit. I’m part of the tribe.