According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 32 percent of adults in the United States have tattoos, marking an increase of 11 percent from the statistics reported by The Statista Research Department in 2012. 

People push their own boundaries by getting involved in the fascinating realm of art. Sanzhar Myrzahanov, who has three tattoos on his arm, said that a tattoo represents freedom and independence from judgments, serving as a symbol of self-ownership. In his view, tattoos have become increasingly popular over the years, and nowadays, people of different ages and backgrounds opt to decorate their bodies with ink.

“My tattoos are closely connected to my surroundings, way of life, and methods of handling things,” Myrzahanov said. “They remind me of my ambitions, my skills and my goals.” 

As a form of expression and ritual, tattoos have deep roots in human history. According to The Collector, the practice of tattooing in Polynesia dates back 2,000 years. Tattoos were commonly linked to life milestones like the transition to adulthood, with the patterns and symbols chosen to reflect social standing, accomplishments or background. 

Magzhan Kairat, who was inspired by Polynesian culture, mentioned that his tattoo holds various hidden symbols, each representing different aspects of his life. 

“The illustration in the shape of a shark symbolizes self-discovery, with the sun within the shark representing vital energy,” Kairat said. “The mask inside the sun acts as a charm warding off the evil eye, while the tail of the shark embodies agility. The figures surrounding the sun signify family and friends.”

In addition, national identity can also be expressed in tattoos. 

In choosing the Chinese Southern Lion as her tattoo, Faya Zhang not only expressed a connection to her cultural roots but also established a visual dialogue between her personal identity and the broader context of her nationality. 

“It seems to me that a tattoo in the appropriate style expresses my individuality like nothing else,” Zhang said. 

Regarding preferred locations for tattoos on the body, the majority of people choose the arm. According to Ilyas Abiken, a tattoo artist with two years of experience working in a tattoo studio in Almaty, Kazakhstan, many individuals often prefer the arm as their favored location for tattoos due to its visibility and comfort.

However, Abiken said that most of his clients conceal their own tattoo beneath a shirt while at work. In his view, it might pose a challenge to advancing in a professional career, especially within public services. Nevertheless, Abiken believes that an increasing number of companies now hold a positive stance toward tattoos which reflects a more open-minded approach in workplaces, fostering an environment where individual expression, even through body art, is increasingly embraced and valued.

The significance of a tattoo can deeply impact a person, shaping their thoughts and feelings in a meaningful way. After getting a tattoo shaped like a dreamcatcher, a woman named Irina Sakieva strives for moderation and leads a balanced lifestyle, incorporating meditation into her routine.

“Now, I experience a sense of calmness,” she said.

Sakieva said that selecting and getting a tattoo usually requires self-reflection, fostering a deeper self-awareness. 

Sakieva added that the ink becoming a permanent aspect of the person can signify growth, resilience or important life events.

“There is a subtle aspect to consider: during youth, the expression of oneself doesn’t unfold in the same manner as it does in adulthood; it might lack sufficient consciousness,” she said.

Jura Borisenko, who has a tattoo of a character from the anime Princess Mononoke

recommended making tattoo choices wisely, emphasizing that errors made in youth might resurface, potentially leading to feelings of regret as one matures.

“Choose a location and design for your tattoo, then wait for at least a year or two, considering age,” Boriensko said. “This cautious approach comes from encounters with individuals who made impulsive tattoo decisions, only to later attempt to conceal them with additional tattoos or openly admit that these were youthful mistakes.” 

Missionaries from Europe attempted to eliminate tattoos in the Cook Islands by using sandstone to scrub them off.