Tattoo Boulevard

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TATTOOS THROUGH TIME

Since man first stepped out of the ocean, or Adam received his rib (depending on your beliefs), people have searched for a universal way to express their property, might, wisdom and other attributes that they or those around them might consider remarkable. The art of tattooing has been practiced for thousands of years, but these days, some still consider this ancient icon of conservatism and of god-fearing people to be highly controversial, even taboo. The Integration of pain & expression began striking fear in the heart of the public as tattooing progressed from ancient times to become a symbol of the negative and the rebellious, but what many fail to realize, is that it is in fact an art, the art of the people- of all peoples. Countless, forgotten civilizations used to tattoo their warriors, wives, elders and even human sacrifices, but in modern times, only a handful of these once thriving cultures have kept these ancient, symbolic traditions alive.

In Borneo, the third largest island in the world, the rich, indigenous tradition of tattooing is still very much alive, and even attracts westerners who wish to admire and purchase this art.  The main source of the Borneo tattoos is the native Kayan tribe, who passed on their legacy to the tribes of Kenyah, Iban and other minor tribes countless years ago. Tribe members tattooed themselves by carving patterns into blocks of wood, and then transferred it onto their skin for various spiritual & traditional purposes. This process is considered to be incredibly painful, but yet, these tattoos have become increasingly popular over the last few years, primarily due to the tattoos’ unique, thick & rich look. People consider them to be excellent testimonies of their mental & physical strength (and often of their good fortune, enthusiasm, competitiveness etc).

Although Borneo indigenous tattoos have always meant to demonstrate one’s characterizations & history proudly, the same can be said for Japanese tattoos. In the Japanese tradition, however, a person cannot demonstrate a desire to become popular, commonly known or admired. They must be humble. Nonetheless, tattoo tradition in Japan is thought to go back to at least 8,000 BC – as Ainu people (the indigenous people of Japan) are known to have used tattoos for various social & even decorative purposes.

Japanese tattoos are also referred to as “Irezumi”. This phrase’s literally translated means “the insertion of ink under the skin, leaving a permanent mark or a tattoo.”  The traditional tattooing process involved hot spikes and natural ink, but that method is long gone.  Nowadays, traditional Japanese tattoos can be found in any color and shape, as they’re imprinted using the latest tattooing technology which are also available in the western world. Most specialized tattoo studios however are still located in Japan (these tattoos can cost up to $30,000, and take up to 5 years to complete).

In the last 50 years, the demand for exotic, ancient tattoos has risen dramatically all across North America and Europe. As the western world became more and more liberal, and more welcoming to the different and the strange, tattooing took a giant leap, as a variety of styles such as Gothic, Celtic, Haida, Kanjis, and Samoan started to reappear, in addition to the more modern & edgy tattoo styles. Practically everything one can imagine and imprint began to appear on people’s skin.

Unlike body piercing, tattoos are not meant to symbolize imprisoning, rebalance or anything negative, and though many people do abuse the meaning of tattoos, tattooing is an art of decoration- a genuine art that is both beautiful and creative. It’s a process that requires a certain amount of mental investment and an occasional panting, but most tattoo enthusiasts believe it’s all worth it. Even though there are many other popular skin decorations, such as body painting, body piercing and even active manipulation of the skin’s natural layout & texture (as practiced in African tribes), tattoos will never change on a basic level. They will always be here to showcase genuine feelings and thoughts from genuine people from all walks of life- people who’ve decided to become whole with themselves and with their bodies by sacrificing some time and comfort to imprint their desires on their skin and share them with the world.

Adi Sela

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DEMYSTIFYING TATTOOS

Tattoos are hot and have become an increasingly popular form of art and self expression. It seems everyone is getting inked these days, but if you don’t want to end up looking like that popular Internet cartoon in which an old Chinese man is pointing to the Kanji tattoo on a very tough looking Western guy’s hand saying, “that reads I love little porcelain dolls,” you should know a few important facts about both what tattoos represent and which kind will fit your personality.

Tattoos are first and foremost symbolic. With the aid of a tattoo, you can represent what you truly believe in or what best demonstrates your inner most qualites. For this reason, you should take the time to discover the meanings of various symbols and what they stand for. Don’t just get a tattoo because Brad Pitt got one. Be original and be yourself.  Some people just pick a random design from an album the tattoo artist lays out in front of them and goes for it, almost as if they were picking up a shirt. Unlike a shirt, though, a tattoo won’t come off, so be careful and choose wisely.

Here are a few popular designs and the meanings behind them:

Tiger: Tigers portray dominance, agility and fearlessness and are a favored symbol amongst martial artists. If you love old Bruce Lee movies or believe you’re the “Rambo” type, then you might want to consider this

Wolf: In certain cultures, especially the American Indians, the wolf is considered a sacred animal.  However, in modern westernized society, the wolf represents a loner, the kind of person who doesn’t like to mingle a lot and is quite happy on his own.

Cross: Although the cross is popular amongst modern day Goths, it’s primarily associated with religious, albeit free thinking persons, who don’t mind going the extra mile.

Dragon: The Dragon is an ancient symbol of mystery and power, which is most popular in Eastern cultures.  If you consider yourself incomprehensible, arcane and commanding, you may want to get some variant of a dragon tattoo. Also, people who feel a deep connection with the East often end up opting for this one.

Phoenix: The Phoenix symbolizes rebirth and immortality. If you’re the never-say-die type and are always willing to give it one more shot, then a phoenix tattoo is what you may be after.

Celtic Knot: The Celtic Knot symbolizes the eternal and intertwined nature of the human soul and is famous amongst those with a complicated and impenetrable character.

These symbols are just a primer and barely represent a fraction of the vast universe of designs that populate various body parts in all corners of the globe. If you’ve never been to a tattoo studio, you may be left baffled at the massive display of art and ink in their catalogue and on their wall. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may help to consult the tattoo artist and discuss your likes and dislikes with them. They will help narrow down the range of designs and make it at least a little easier to pick one that suits your personality.

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A MEHNDI MOMENT

If you’ve ever come across photographs of weddings that have taken place in locations such as Bangladesh, Pakistan or India, you may have noticed the bride’s hands and feet were embellished with a gorgeous, intricate artwork. This is known as Mehndi, or henna tattoos. Mehndi stems from many different ancient cultures, and can be dated as far back as 5,000 years ago, and although this vivacious art form is used for many different occasions, such as the birth of a child, engagements or even family gatherings, it’s primarily associated with weddings. Brides use henna tattoos as a type of decoration and in some places, even the groom will have designs. Unlike traditional tattoos, that are created using ink and needles, henna tattoos are applied with a paint brush or a special plastic cone. Once the artwork is perfected, it is wrapped to lock in body heat by using tissue, medical tape or plastic. The reason for trapping the body heat is to intensify the vibrant colors on the skin. The wrap is worn overnight, and once removed, the design will last anywhere from weeks to months, depending on the paste that’s used. For anyone who is considering a tattoo, but has reservations about what the finished design will look like, they may want to contemplate having the artwork done using henna first. This will give them an idea of what the tattoo will look like before they make that final, ultimate decision.

Elizabeth Cumber

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TATTOO BOULEVARD LAUNCHES

Tattoo Boulevard is unofficially launched and ready to entertain and emphasize the art in tattoos.

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Hello world!

Tattoo Boulevard is set to launch in early June. Hope you’re ready for it!

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