As tattoo art in general continues to move into the mainstream, newer, bolder, and more interesting types and locations of ink are beginning to take a foothold amongst the more heavily modified generations. Case in point: the facial tattoo.
Fifty years ago, visible tattooing of any type was an extreme rarity, and could generally only be seen in circus sideshows, vaudevillian stage acts, and on the arms of sailors and sea-faring tradesmen. In today’s world however, up to half of the population within certain age groups lays claim to at least one tattoo. And ink has grown so exponentially in popularity that we’re seeing it in a slew of hyper-visible places. Facial tattooing is no longer the trademark of criminal records or gang affiliation. It now belongs to tattoo artists, celebrities, stylists, alternative models, and sometimes even just the hot girl nextdoor. Many celebs have become famous for their facial ink, including male model Rick Genest, rapper Lil Wayne, and celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D.
It’s also an interesting cultural phenomenon that all facial art in the western world often mimics tribal tattoo styles that have been practiced for generations among various indigenous peoples. Most notably North African, South American, and Polynesian groups like the Maori have distinctive and recognizable patterns, or prefer to make markings on specific areas of the face.
None of us can know what the future will hold for an ever-evolving art form like contemporary tattoo, but it’s a sure bet that as ink becomes more accepted and loses its age-old stigmas, many a cheek, chin, or brow is bound to be seen brandishing provocative body art.