Why Do We Get Tattoos?

As tattoo culture keeps growing, including here in Reno, Sophia Day, Natalie Adame and Autumn Brewster look into the reasons more and more people are getting tattoos.

Watch an explainer video by Natalie Adame about some of the reasons driving more than a third of young Americans to have at least one tattoo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNUqgvK31mg

From Deviant to a Form of Expression For All

In the past, people often associated tattoos as deviant and unprofessional but in the last ten years, tattoos have become a form of expression for all types of people.

According to the History of Tattoos website, 36% of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo. In 2012, 45 million people in the United States had tattoos. The History of Tattoos also recorded over 20,000 tattoo parlors in the United States all of which accrue a combined three billion dollars per year.

From Inspiration Quotes to Memorials

So why do we get tattoos? Many will use tattoos as a form of self expression. This can range from inspirational quotes, places they have visited or to commemorate loved ones. Gavin Pfeiffer, a resident in Riverside, California, got his tattoo in honor of his friend of 10 years who passed away.

“I got a memorial tattoo for Austin to remind me of him and to honor him every day,” said Pfeiffer.

People will also get tattoos to represent their spiritual or religious practices. Often times, they will tattoo scriptures and symbols. According to the lovetoknow website, religious tattoos make up 25% of all tattoos, most of which are Christian.

Tribal tattoos are a popular form of artwork for many cultures as well. Africans, Hawaiians and Native Americans sometimes tattoo themselves to give a sense of belonging and representation to their heritage.

Getting tattoos for fandoms has also gained recent traction within the tattoo community. This can range from movie franchises, novels, or sports teams. People use these tattoos as a way to honor their favorite writers, singers and athletes as well as say thank you for the impact they’ve had on their life.

“I love all of my tattoos because they all have a story behind them. Those stories and memories will last a lifetime,” said Pfeiffer.

Explainer Reporting by Sophia Day, Natalie Adame and Autumn Brewster for the Reynolds Sandbox

The Reynolds Sandbox showcases innovative and engaging storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab.

Recommended from Medium

Nadya Tolokno — Actvity 6

Art History 101: Themes in Art


On the hunt: Doris Baric (HRV)

Day Dreamer Artist Spotlight — Cody Blazek

Guttermouth: Comics Roundup

Tips for Artists #1: What an artist portfolio should contain

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Reynolds Sandbox

Reynolds Sandbox

Showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab in Reno.

More from Medium

The Three-Year Cycle of Nevada Baseball

Kurds of Reno, Finding a New Life in Yet Another Country

Reno/Tahoe’s Dry Winters Has Outdoor Enthusiasts Adjusting Their Winter Recreation (Audio Story)

Fake IDs vs new ID scanners: Reno’s Young Adults take their Chances at Local Bars