The Art of Tattoos

Breyon Gaddy's tattoo honoring his grandmother.   Photo by Ellen Sullivan
Breyon Gaddy’s tattoo honoring his grandmother.
Photo by Ellen Sullivan

by Breyon Gaddy

Tattoos are art because they symbolize stories, and they can tell about a person’s past and mean some deep stuff in people’s lives. Some people are bad people, they get tattoos to show how many people they have killed or how many bad things they have done in their lives.  But most tattoos have a positive meaning.

Tattoos have changed a lot throughout history.

According to, “The legacy of Polynesian tattoo began over 2000 years ago and is as diverse as the people who wear them. Once widespread in Polynesian societies across the Pacific Ocean, the arrival of western missionaries in the 19th century forced this unique art form into decline. In Samoa, the tradition of applying tattoo, or tatau, by hand has been unbroken for over two thousand years. Tools and techniques have changed little. The skill is often passed from father to son, each tattoo artist, or tufuga, learning the craft over many years of serving as his father’s apprentice.

“I got my first tattoo because it’s like family first. Everybody in my family has my mom’s name, so it’s like a family thing,” said senior Bobby Price.

I have a lot of tattoos because they mean something to me; the tattoos say something about what happened to me in my life. One of my tattoos is my mom’s name, Renee, because all of my brothers have it; it’s a family thing. My second tattoo is my grandma’s name, Nadine Brown, and the day that my grandma passed away. It meant a lot to me, that’s why I got a tattoo of the day she passed.

Many people have tattoos because it’s art, and they like to show off their art and show that they can do the tattoos themselves. Some people even have tattoos on their faces. Having tattoos back in the day could be to identify a person as a part of a group or tribe, and that means where they come from and how they live.  The Polynesians changed the name from tatau to tattoo. Over 1,000,000 tattoo designs  were done back in the day, according to

Having tattoos is cool to today’s kids.  People get tattoos to make themselves look better.

“Tattoos are cool. I got my tattoo because it was the day my grandma died so I was thinking about her when I was getting my tattoo,” said senior Ameen Spain.

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