Tattoos

by Jonathan

September 2011

Surely the ultimate in personal branding is a tattoo, a permanent stamp conveying a message about who you are. So, as a branding designer, I find relaxing on the beach over summer almost impossible. There are too many questions I need answered: Are all the people sporting South Pacific curlicues Maori or Polynesian? Were my Celtic ancestors really into inking – surely the climate they endured didn’t allow much flesh to be on show? Why tattoo ugly pink bows on lower part of your calves when you could wear pretty pink bows instead?

I have lots of reasons for disliking tattoos but I suppose the main one is the lack of thought that goes into them. I once asked a friend why he was planning to get a huge cross on his upper arm. Was he very religious? No, he just liked it…so he thought he scar his body for life with it! One on hand I had to marvel that a cross had no religious connections for him, but on the other I had to wonder why he wanted to add something meaningless to this body for ever. I suppose it all comes down to that, they are permanent. How can people know they will have a life-long devotion to Megadeth or fluffy-tailed unicorns? Even huge companies, who spend billions on branding, on what they want to convey about themselves, tweak their logos now and again just to keep them fresh.

 As one who was a William Morris loving Brideheadian aesthete in the early 80s, a Morrisey loving palefaced vegetarian in the ninties and a gym-going meat-eating beach lover in the noughties, I know I can’t commit to one design forever. It would be like listening to one type of music for the rest of my life. Logo monogamy is not for me.

With inked permanence comes another problem, one that afflicts more and more people as the years tick by – you can’t move them around! Bear with me here! As the tattoo addiction grows and people need to satisfy the craving by adding another, and another, the accumulated effect hasn’t been considered. It’s like kerning between letters, you need to give each new swirl, name, hobbit or fairy some room to breath. So I pity the person who didn’t know they would need to add a prancing dolphin to the left of the bum antlers, or the father who needs to add that third of fourth child to a calve. “Daddy, why is my name always hidden by your socks?” I concede that there are some beautiful traditional tattoos, but for most of us they should be banned. And at least that way I might actually relax on the beach instead of speculating about some kinky devotion to Mickey Mouse – I mean why else would he be crawling out of that girl’s pants?!

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