A tattoo is a marking made by making punctures in the skin and inserting indelible ink into it. Although the practice of tattooing the body is very old, the English word 'tattoo' was first introduced by the explorer Captain James Cook in his report about a voyage around the world from 1768 to 1771.
Without a doubt we can say that although tattooing relates to art, in that both involve the creation of images, not everyone is able to draw beautiful images, even on paper, never mind skin. However despite the connection there are, of course, reasons why tattooing is different from other art movements. The main one is the medium: human skin. One key result of this is that the result cannot be sold, unlike painting or sculpture. It remains attached to the skin of the person who wanted the tattoo. Yet nowadays a tattoo artist can take their work very seriously and earn a lot for their work, for example Mario Barth charged $150k for five hours' work tattooing the famous American drummer and founding member of glam metal band Motley Crue, Tommy Lee.
Tattooing has been a Eurasian practice since at least Neolithic times, and it is still very popular around the world. Although society has changed in many ways, the most common goal that people hope to achieve with a tattoo has not; just as before, people want to stand out in a crowd, or perhaps join the group of people who already partly define themselves through their tattoos.
In 1769 James Cook showed the Old World a Polynesian fully covered with tattoos, and that brought tattooing into fashion. However this success boom was short-lived, and it became a privilege mostly only for sailors. Only in the 20th century did it find its popularity again, due to the powerful boom of Jazz music and Rock-n-Roll.
Now tattooing is being turned into an art, and artists are training in traditional fine art disciplines and simply using tattoos for their medium. Advances in electric needle machines and pigments provide them with new possibilities and techniques, so that tattoos have become full of colors and delicate details. In any tattoo salon you will see the list of styles of tattoos that can be made, and it is very much like the list of art movements; there will be realism, black & white, old and new school and others.
The biggest difference between tattoo and traditional art is the intimate artist/client relationship in tattooing. This can be an advantage to the experience if the client has thought a lot about the step and about what he wants to see on his skin for the rest of his life, though doesn't play a role if the tattoo is a rash decision or the result of blindly imitating a fashion. But if you are one of the first group, and your tattooist is a real contemporary artist, than you will get “a moveable feast,” a feast for the eyes that is always with you.