Modern and indigenous tattooing

The sound of a buzzing needle cut the air. The latex glove steadily held the needle in place while the artist worked on his squirming canvas. He poked at the hand until a masterpiece was left behind. 

Chimed into the quaint and tucked away INKsane Tattoo Studio holds two artists; the apprentice and the mentor. Welcomed by the apprentice with dreadlocks and a focused composure, he looks up from his colourful sketch. His voice is like a hum. Behind the black curtain sits a gentleman with tattoos crept up to his elbows. His accent is distinct but not identifiable. Dragos Dinu, a Romanian tattoo artist, shakes my blank hand while his apprentice nestles into a corner.

Photo of tattooing machine
Photo of Dragos’ first self made machine. Taken by: Alexis Alley

Dragos Dinu at Inksane tattoo in Bournemouth, England had begun tattooing at the young age of thirteen. He described his first encounter with tattooing as “interesting”. Through time and practice Dinu developed his skills and kept up with the changing techniques. “I started in Romania. I had made my own needle and practiced on many different people.” He listed off all the countries he had done work in. It seemed as if he had marked the world map himself.

Tom Bradley, his apprentice, had explained that tattooing was his way of expression; “tattoos are way of bringing what you feel inside to the surface. It doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone else if you understand it yourself”. Funny enough, Bradley hates pain and was marking his hand to sit through a 45-minute tattooing session right then and there.

Tom Bradley's hand tattoo of the word love across his knuckles
Tom Bradley’s hand tattoo completed taken by: Alexis Alley

Tattoo artists like Drago Dinu and Tom Bradley are not like other artists. Simply put, no artist is the same. Each artist has their own beliefs and talents no matter how young, old, experienced or daring. It’s the people around them who determine what is brought to the surface.

Through time, cultures have found a purpose for tattoos. Some see them as a way to advertise their most cherished thoughts while others see it as sin.

The first ever recorded encounter with tattooing was from Joseph Banks, a Botanist of natural sciences. Banks was in Tahiti and recorded his experience watching the Polynesian tatauing. His observations earned the tattoo a place in history.

The Egyptians had pioneered what we know today as tattooing. Records show findings as far back as 3000 b.c. The art was limited only to the rich and royal. The Maori Polynesian people had popularize the fashion. Similarly, to the Egyptians, tattoos were seen as a form of status. The Maori used tattooing to show when a child reached maturity. The techniques involved a needled split pushed into the skin dispersing pigment into the wounds. The practice is even shown in Disney’s Moana and continues to be celebrated in competitions.

British and American cultures have embraced the tattoo culture. SouthcoastInk artist, Ben Pearce had shared “Sailors had began the trend by marking themselves to identity themselves after death”

“On the same street you got tattooed you could drink and get a lap dance, that’s where the stereotype came from”. Through media outlets like Instagram, artists have gained a fan base broadening the amount of people with tattoos. The influence of models and celebrities etched the idea of having tattoos as creative. About 1 in 5 people in England have a tattoo, the majority being millennials.

In Japan, tattoos or irezumi are typically associated with “yakuza”, mafias or criminals. While the younger generation are more likely to have tattoos, it is done in secret. Many parlors in Japan are illegal or underground. One of the most renowned artist, Horiyoshi III is one of the masters in the tattooing world and has said in interviews that “Traditions are changing but unsure of whether they’ll continue.”

In religious countries, tattoos have been made illegal. The bible verse Leviticus 19:28 states: “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any marks on yourself” This could be read as evidence against “marking” for religious states whom have outlawed tattooing.

Tattooing has made its mark in history and is found all over the world in various forms. Whether it’s in an underground parlor in Japan or on the high street in Bournemouth, you’ll hear the faint buzzing of self expression.

alexisalley Written by:

Journalist studying at Bournemouth University.


  1. 19th May 2017

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