The History of Tattooing

Legend Tattoo Austin

Understanding the History of Tattooing

It's 2017 and one in five Americans has a tattoo and 90% of those people have never regretted their ink, according to a Nielsen poll. However, tattooing in America has not always been this widely accepted, although it's been around for centuries in other parts of the world.

1870 is when we first saw tattooing in the United States when Martin Hildebrandt opened a shop in New York, and people no longer had to travel overseas to get their tattooing done. At this point, most tattooed Americans were soldiers branding themselves with memories of their lives at home before they went off to war. These tattooed soldiers provide a lot of inspiration for current tattooing with their American flags, hearts and pinup women tattoos on their shoulders.

Although American soldiers were mainstays in the tattoo industry, rural America still saw tattoos as a novelty, with circus acts parading tattooed people across the country.

In the 1930s with the introduction of social security, crowds of people got their social security numbers tattooed on their arms or backs as a keepsake. It was in the 1950s that musicians made tattooing even cooler.

Due to a hepatitis outbreak in 1961, New York City banned tattooing within city limits. This ban wasn't removed until 1997.

The introduction of punk rock and it's association with tattooing had a major influence on the growth of the industry. That, coupled with brands like Ed Hardy emulating their designs after their tattoo style, really brought tattoo culture main stream.

Although Ed Hardy's clothing is no longer in fashion, and punk rock is no longer a novelty, their influence on the tattoo industry has had a lasting effect.

While tattooing has come a long way in a hundred years, it still has room to grow, in terms of acceptability and even tattooing technology.

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