Tattoos became a symbol of an adventurous lifestyle, yet they have also been used for ages to identify captives and criminals. In many cultures, outlaws and convicts choose to tattoo themselves with designs that chronicle their crimes, sentencing, and beliefs. Tattoos were used by Native Americans to mark warriors who had died on battlefields.
In the Western world, tattoos have become popular again as an expression of personal identity and creativity. Some people choose tattoos as a way to remember loved ones who have passed away, others want tattoos to honor someone or something that is important to them.
The criminal justice system in most countries does not favor individuals with tattoos, especially if they are considered "gang related". Police officers can usually tell within seconds if you are involved in crime, whether it be through your words or your body language. They will often focus their attention on you because of this factor alone. Sometimes tattoos are used as a pretext for arresting people without real reason.
Even if you are not convicted of a crime, the presence of a tattoo may still cause problems when you try to get a job. Many employers check online databases of criminal records before hiring anyone. If they find out about your past crime(s), even if it was many years ago, you could lose your job. This is particularly true if the offense is serious and/or involves violence.
The tattoos depict a criminal's "service record," which includes accomplishments and failures, jail terms, and the sort of labor he or she conducts. They might also represent his "thief's family," either by identifying those inside their hearts or by using the customary tomcat motif.
The tattoo artist usually has considerable influence over what it means. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that many inmates obtain tattoos from the same artists who work in the prison system—men known as "inmate artists." These artists make a lot of money because each tattoo requires about an hour of work.
There are several different systems used for tattoos of this kind. One is called "time out of mind" and involves describing recent crimes with it. Another is called "I will not tell" and uses abbreviations to denote sentences and other information about the thief. Still another is called "blood type" and uses various symbols to show what police department handled previous cases related to that inmate.
Although they give no clue as to what kind of person you are behind bars, these tattoos can give you a good idea of how successful you have been on the outside.
Aesthetic sense and far less genuine creative training and talent Tattoos are unlikely to appeal to those with the aforementioned aesthetic sense, training, and quality. As a result, tattoos make most people look immature and, to many observers, psychologically disturbed, self-absorbed, and so, well, frightening.
People acquire tattoos for a variety of reasons. It's not because they enjoy the artwork 99 percent of the time; it's because they're trying to tell a narrative or transmit a message, or at least that's how people who don't have tattoos view them.
The most common reason people get tattoos is because they want to represent something special or give a unique identity to themselves. Maybe they want to show support for someone they love or some cause they believe in, like freedom or peace. Or maybe they just want to put their feelings and thoughts about a subject down on paper for safe-keeping.
In addition to these more "rational" reasons, there are also emotional ones. Some people get tattoos as a way to express themselves emotionally. They might get one when they're angry or frustrated with themselves or others, or even when they feel joy or happiness.
Finally, there are practical reasons too. People get tattoos to mark important events in their lives, such as birthdays or anniversaries. Or perhaps they get a tattoo to remember an experience they enjoyed together with someone else, such as a trip or a night out with friends.
Of all the reasons why people get tattoos, probably the most common one is to mark a significant event in their life. This could be a single moment in time or an entire era of their life.
In the absence of photography, colonial clerks drew up thorough physical descriptions of each convict upon their arrival. Tattoos, in fact, made these clerks' tasks simpler since they gave a distinguishing feature that distinguished the prisoner from the indent's description.
Tattoos also served as self-identification tags for the prisoners. They could be used to distinguish friends or allies from enemies, and also within groups of prisoners. Some inmates may have been given tattoos by other inmates to signal membership of a gang. In this case, the tattoos would serve to identify the bearer as someone worth following or supporting. Others may have been given their tattoos by prison staff members to indicate their status within the prison hierarchy. Still others may have been awarded them as reward for good behavior or achievement.
Convicts who were unable to afford ink had their designs done in white powder called tattooine which was then painted on by other prisoners. This process caused many deaths due to infection after being cut off from blood circulation. Modern substitutes for tattooing include skin painting and branding.
During the 19th century, when transportation to Australia became common, tattoos were needed so that convicts would not get punished again once they arrived there. The first thing they did with new arrivals was take their fingerprints so that nobody else would be punished for their crimes.