Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Tattoo Gold

December 14th, 2008 by





Okay.  I need to talk about this.  Thomas Lockhart of West Coast Tattoo in Vancouver, Canada has designed more than 200 tattoos in anticipation of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.  Apparently tattooed athletes are – er, I mean tattooed athletes are proud commemorators of the Olympic spirit and artists like Lockhart are more than willing to help out.

Does that sound cynical on my part?  I don’t mean it to, honest.  Perhaps I’m just biased.  The Olympics to me have always seemed like nothing more than a big cash grab by nearly everyone and everything involved.  In fact the only ones not cashing in as a group are the athletes for whom the games are supposedly held for in the first place.  Unless of course you’re lucky enough to be one of the few American athletes swooped up by Nike and other sporting gear corporations, that is.

I would never say that anyone shouldn’t get a particular tattoo if that’s what they truly feel they need to get. To be fair, Lockhart is offering a free 2010 Olympic tattoo to any athletes who win a medal during the games.  But my beef isn’t necessarily with an Olympic athlete who wants something to remember their Olympic glory by.  It just seems to me that designing more than 200 tattoos specifically for a hand-over-fist moneymaking monolith such as the Olympics crosses the line between art and capitalism.  This sort of build up is going to encourage tattoos, making them little more than a commodified response to a manufactured demand. Lockhart for example, freely admits that he is using images trademarked by VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Games), more or less acknowledging that an attempt at capitalizing off of something directly linked to Games marketing has been made.  Is it really a case of preparing for the inevitable rush of athletes and those involved with the Olympics?  Or is it more a case of attempting to impress a trend upon hordes of people delirious with “Olympic spirit”?

I’m sorry, but tattoos like these give me the willies.  Eventually they trickle down to confused people caught up in the hoopla, people whose only contribution to the Olympics is happening to live in the same city where they’re being held.  That’s where things become gimmicky to me, where the art of tattoo dwindles down to a novelty that was briefly all the rage before being relegated to obscurity.  That’s where tattoos fall into the same category as Beanie Babies, Tickle Me Elmo dolls and Crystal Pepsi.  The difference being of course, that those other aforementioned fads aren’t permanent in the same way that a tattoo is.  It’s a slippery slope.

So is that a problem?  Is designing tattoos specifically to cash in some sort of violation of artistic pursuit?  Or am I just being a narrow-minded curmudgeon?  Whatever your position, it has to be acknowledged that getting a tattoo shouldn’t be taken lightly.  It’s also arguable that aligning tattoos with something as fleeting as Miga, one of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games mascots, is more about cash registers than commemoration.

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