Paul L Baker
June 15, 2012
“Inked Well” an essay about tattoos was written by David Kirby, a professor of English at Florida State University. On first reading of this essay it comes across as a stereotypical portrayal of people who get tattoos.
Mr. Kirby’s essay starts out by saying that if you have tattoos , you belong in a certain class of people considered to be “White Trash:. He does this by relating the story of Richard Costello, a motorcycle thief that was caught by the police because of his Ebay account picture that included both of his feet with the words “White Trash” tattooed on the top. The police tracked him down by the uniqueness of the picture and his account information. Mr. Kirby also quotes a writer by the name of Adolph Loos who wrote an article “ornament and crime” in which he reasons that it is OK for a Pacific Islander to have a tattoo but not OK for the modern person and makes the assertion that all people with tattoos are criminals or will become criminals. In one point in the essay the people with tattoos are referred to as “bottom feeders”.
Kirby then proceeds to relate the history of the art of tattoo and how it was brought to Europe from Polynesia by the 18th century explorers as well as the early sightings of tattoos on the Indians in the New World . He discusses the use of tattoo among the aristocracy and how their acceptance dwindled when the introduction of the electric tattoo machine caused the cost, the time and the pain to decrease. Therefore the common man was able to afford to have his body decorated. It was interesting to know that the first professional tattoo artist was from the US , Martin Hildenbrandt, and that he began the history of sailors and soldiers getting tattoos.
Mr. Kirby does include some interesting facts based on his interviews with students from Tallesshee , Florida and refers to two different types of...