Not to judge the book by its cover.


The saying tells us not to judge the book by its cover. However, today it is difficult to imagine a platonically pure way of perceiving individuals of the surrounding staging, where morals would be strictly detached from visuals and values and attitudes would be formed while avoiding premature judging. Indeed, in day-to-day situations, human interaction tends to be built in a way of certain data exchange, which will include not only verbal messages but also visual appearances, behavior, habits, etc.

Among these kinds of attributes, there is one that becomes controversial even on the stage of classification, these are body modifications, particularly tattoos. If, for example, we can easily define facial features as natural and difficult-to-change attributes, and clothes as acquired and that can be easily changed, tattoos hover somewhere in the middle. Being an acquired thing and at the same time quite durable, a tattoo is starting to pose questions with its only existence, what serves as a reason for people who are getting tattoos? Is this body modification a direct instruction of fashion, or rather a personalized ritual of initiation? Is it a communicational channel or a status sign system?

Of course, the answer could lie in the combination of functions listed above and many others as well, however main ambiguity of the phenomenon can be derived here – the indirect nature of its communicational function that still serves as an important characteristic and attribute of the individual as perceived by others on one hand, and personalized nature of tattoos as a sign that has a deeply intimate value on another. One might object, that with the tattoo industry, we have today it becomes truly difficult to speak about the intimate value and sacredness of a tattoo. Indeed, as in any other form of art, in tattooing, there can be observed trends and fashions, style changes, and rise-and-falls of certain motives‘ popularity.

At a more instrumental level, there can be seen a lush plentitude of techniques, which in turn result in different approaches and attitudes toward tattooing. With all this plethora and diverseness of meanings, these days tattoo culture becomes a subculture that consists of subcultures, a Pandora‘s box into which this paper aimed to deepen in, digging down to the prehistoric marks that existed centuries ago and looping back to the style that at the first blush has more in common with a tattoo of the ancients – homemade tattoo.

Emerging relatively recently as an established branch and being stylistically simplistic the style of a homemade tattoo can offer more than it might look like, starting with the very basic

question it poses – what makes a tattoo a homemade one? This question, in turn, should be seen

as more than just a potential guide to the style, beyond it, homemade tattoo possesses their

cultural background and attitudes, totems and taboos, defining features, and excluded practices.

Logically continuing the set of questions, the core one will be set as well – what meanings do homemade tattoos bear and how do these meanings differ from ones of tattoo shop-made tattoos?

This thesis begins with historical research which will provide a sufficient perspective on the meanings and functions of tattooing in different cultures, the paths of its development, and succession patterns. The second part will deal with homemade tattooing from the point of view of both artists and tattoo culture consumers, with their definitions of homemade tattooing and attitudes towards it. For this purpose, the data from social media networks, where the main discourses around homemade tattooing are located, is considered.

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