You could say that, to some extent, it has always been an art form. But as societal views of tattoos change, the perception of the practise itself also changes. Like a lot of fiercely debated topics, the answer is most certainly objective, and it completely depends on who you are talking to.
There are now specially curated exhibitions all around the world that showcases the rich history of real tattoos on real people. It seems that tattooing is starting to shift away from being an underground practise and moving towards being a globally accepted art form.
Many tattoo artists hold the idea that it is simply art on a living, breathing canvas. For this reason, it is a truly unique, and very personal form of art. It cannot be bought or sold, and it lives on the host’s body for their entire life. This is very powerful and makes it stand out greatly from other forms of art.
As the remaining stigma towards tattoos fades away, the practise itself will become more widespread and adopted by artists. There are even a few crossover artists, like the sculptor and artist who goes by the name ‘Juncha’ on Instagram.
Juncha has been studying fine art and sculpture for a number of years, and Juncha is also a very in-demand tattooist. In keeping with his classical sculpture roots, his tattoo style is very much classical sculpture inspired. He has done lots of pieces with religious heritage and sculptures from ancient history.
The question ultimately boils down to: what is art?
Many artists tend to agree that the answer comes down to the intention and perception surrounding the piece. If the creator or receiver see the piece as art, then that is exactly what it is. If they are the end result of original skill and talent, with consideration to aesthetics and style, then it is unquestionably art.