Tattoo is among humanity’s earliest and most all-pervading art forms. Cultures from all continents have used permanent dyes in their bodies as mystical wards, status symbols, rites of passage, or simply as personal decoration. That tradition continues today.
The tattoo story
Tattooing has been practiced for a long time. The oldest discovery of tattooed human skin to date is found on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, dating to between 3370 and 3100 BC.
After stating this it is only natural to note that tattoos and teh world surrounding them has evolved in every psosible way. Many tattoo artists have an art education. The technology around the tattoo process, the ink, the machines, everything has changed.
The fact is that tattoo artists come from all over the world and live in all continents. They are inhcarged of painting bodies for ever.
That being said, if art’s purpose is to challenge viewers a question arises: can tattoos be considered art? Like most hotly debated issues, the answer is subjective, and changes depending on who you’re talking to.
The fact is that tattoos are popular and roughly one in eight Germans already has one. Of those who have tattoos, 70% have more than one tattoo and 20% have more than five.
My body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story.
– Johnny Depp –
Javier Andrés Guarin
Having that in mind we decided to talk to a Colombian tattoo artist that lives in Germany. We are talking about Javier Andrés Guarin.
Guarin was born in Bucaramanga, Colombia. Since 2015 he has lived in 4 different countries, the last and current one is Germany. As he assured me he likes it here because of many reasons. He appreciates the cultural acceptance amongst its people and the importance they give to the arts. Further more, he says germans are kind and heart warmed folk, the language is difficult but enchanting, it provides economical stability and they are organized and efficient.
Solkes: How is the world of tattooing in Colombia and Germany?
Javier Andrés Guarin: Currently, in Colombia, tattoos are being acceptede more and more. There are people who dont want to change their ideas but litlle by little changes are taking place. I am always surpirsed in Germany. In the supermarket is see tattooed cashiers, elderly people showing their tattoos, it seems that here they are more open in what is said, but I could not say to what extent.
Solkes: Are tattoos art?
Javier Andrés Guarin: Yes they are. You have to study every design, you have to find the harmony of a tattoo and the body. The meaning they have.
Solkes: You have been tattoing since when? Why do you do it?
Javier Andrés Guarin: I have been tattoing since 2012. It wasn’t a plan but it sort of happened that way. I liked painting and my plan was to be a paintor and to live from the arts but as time went by I changed the canvas and the brush. It basically is the same thing. I get to express my art on a breathing canvas and that is amazing!
Guarin assures me that both those who make tattoos and those who get them have a definite style regarding this matter. He likes many color tattoos, the contrast of black with very bright colors! In addition to the black and gray, he considers that the tattoos in realism of shadows, are a type of tattoo that can interpret very well.
As we speak, I realize that he is quite tattooed and the truth is that he has many tattoos but he lost count a long time ago. The only certain thing is that the whole left side of the head and face, neck, both arms, both legs, back and chest completely covered by ink.
Change came with time
Since the 1970s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of global and Western fashion, common among both sexes, to all economic classes, and to age groups from the later teen years to middle age.
Tattoos have experienced a resurgence in popularity in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, Japan, North and South America. The growth in tattoo culture has seen an influx of new artists into the industry. Furthermore, people have gotten closer to the tattoo culture thanks to the many tattoo festival being held.
Solkes: Who has inspired you in the tattoo world?
Guarin told us that the hardest tattoos to realize are those that are meant as cover ups. The reason is pretty simple: the artist has to take in account what wants to be “forgotten” and analize what must be done in order to make that happen.
In his line of work, like in every day life, he encounters all types of people. Thankfully, many tattoo artists have paved the way for the current genartion. This means that tattoos are accepted and that many see them as art, as a form of expression.
Solkes: So far what has been the funniest, uncomfortable or most interesting experience while doing a tattoo?
Javier Andrés Guarin: There are many funny stories with clients, people who faint, or very funny tattoos, or on the contrary things that leave an impression. I remember a lady who tattooed the face of her son who had died of a terminal illness. When we finished the lady could not stop crying because she saw the face of her son on her arm. She was very grateful and it was something that I remember a lot, it’s a very nice way to heal from such a big pain.
Not all tattoos are the same
Solkes: Do tattoos have a meaning to you?
Javier Andrés Guarin: Yes they do. For me they are a before and after in each of the customers life and my own. They make me wake up and strive to be better. They mean freedom in my body because I choose. They are a mark regarding my personal history.
A few years ago, Javier Andrés would be hesitant when asked to make specific tattoos. However, as time went by and he gained more experience and confidence this hesitation faded away. As he explains every person is the sole master of their body and if they have an idea in mind his job is to help them achieve their goal.
Love them or hate them, there is no denying the fact that tattoos have a fascinating past and present. Creating a tattoo also poses many of the same questions that creating a work of art.
Not all tattoos are the same. Not only according to how they look but how they came to be and why. And, for the record, not all tattoo artist are the same. Guarin is a Colombian ink artist who currently lives in Germany His passion for art is showcased in the body of many people.