Hipster Tattoo Culture

Entrepreneurs, artists, connoisseurs, Hipsters; the king pin of the nonconformist movement, hipsters have begun to take over the social realm of today’s cultures and subcultures on a very large scale. Using just about every medium possible to express themselves (such as exotic hairstyles, out-of-style clothes, “vintage” era bicycles, and just about everything else that isn’t a social normality), the hipster makes it very apparent that whatever you and your friends may be doing on an everyday basis, he’s doing just the opposite. The playing field of unique self-expression has now turned to an entirely new chapter, however; stick-and-poke tattoos.

Tattoos, although used prevalently in today’s society as a means self-expression, are nothing new. According to an article published by Discover Magazine titled “Scientists have Mapped all of Otzi the Iceman’s 61 Tattoos” written by Carl Engelking, evidence of tattooing can be dated back nearly five thousand years. Human remains, later named “Otzi the Ice Man”, were found nearly perfectly preserved in an ancient ice sheet. His body sported several permanent markings and symbols. Examples of tattooing throughout the ancient world can be found in several areas around the globe, and continued to grow and thrive as a practice into the 21st century. Before the tattoo gun idea was even conceived, tattoos were given using much more archaic methods. According to an article titled “Tattoos, art or agony”, written by Brynie, cultures such as the Tongans and Samoans would repeatedly tap a sharpened piece of bone or wood into the skin with a wooden mallet. Ink, dirt, or soot would then be rubbed or pushed into the open wounds. This method, although later outdated by the invention of the tattoo gun, never fell out of practice.

The D.I.Y. tattoo practice exploded among young adults, prison inmates, and just about everyone else who either couldn’t afford a professionally done tattoo or simply did not have the recourses available. Videos appeared all over the internet with simple instructions on how to tattoo yourself (or your friends) using only a sewing needle, some string, and some ink. All of which are very common items that can free, completely customizable, and one of a kind permanent body doodles. Sure is tough to argue that!be found at your local Michael’s arts and crafts center. But these sketchy and accident-prone tattoos, although painful to receive, have their appeal.. After all, what

Stick-and-Poke tattoos, as they later became known as, offered a unique and odd new way of embracing what most of society would reject. The eclectic art form falls hand-in-hand with the image and persona of what the Hipster encompasses. After all, what really is that cool about professionally done tattoos? As Jessica Contrera writes in an article published in The Washington Post, when “practically everyone in your life has a pricey tattoo parlor memento somewhere on their flesh (your boss, your mom, maybe even your priest) the allure of rebellion they once commanded has been lost”. The allure now lies with these free, completely customizable, and one of a kind permanent body doodles. Sure is tough to argue that!

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A Podcast discussing the matter further can be found here.

Whether or not stick-and-poke tattoos fade with the times or end up sticking around, they have become one of the many mediums that the nonconformist hipster culture has expressed itself through. As these tattoos grow in popularity, will they continue to hold their rebellious nature? In any case, with the likely probability that these tattoo spin-offs turn out a little sub-par, there is no need to panic; you did it yourself, anyways, what’s cooler than that? Not much, I suppose.

I had the pleasure of interviewing a hall mate of mine, Dan Luther, who is pretty up-to-date with several trending topics. Having had a stick-and-poke tattoo done himself, he was just the right candidate to get feedback from. The video can be found below!


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