Tattoo Artist – Norman Rockwell

I love tattoos.  Let me rephrase, I love good tattoos. I have a few myself.  I think that they are a great expression of the person.  I don’t however like the classic spider web on the face, or the badly drawn anchor with ‘MUM’ scrawled underneath it.  For me, my tattoos are personal, therefore there are only a few that can be seen day to day, and they are in fairly discreet places, but I do love to see good artwork which people have chosen to adorn themselves with – it can be so eye catching and telling about the person you are viewing.

Rockwell’s picture is a cheeky look in to the tattoo culture of the service men of the time.  Painted in 1944, this appeared as the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post”, and had alternative titles of ‘Only Skin Deep’ or ‘The Tattooist’.

Rockwell’s humour shines through in this painting with the sailor getting his latest loves name tattooed on his arm.  Lucky Betty to be at the end of that long list, but it does beg a couple of questions, such as, what happened to the others? and why was such a large gap left on the sailors are when the rest is already covered in tattoos?  Regardless, Betty’s name has made it to the prestigious place of the sailors bicep.

Rockwell presented his views with the notion that tattoos are permanent, but the feelings that invoked getting the tattoo at that time are not, juxtaposing the two elements to create a timelessness of decision over the moment of feeling.

The pose of the tattoo artist and the sailor, draws the eye to where the work on the bicep is taking place.

Rockwell continues the tattoo theme in to the background of the painting, showing some of the popular designs of the day.  These designs are close to those of ‘Sailor Jerry’, which makes this a topical piece of art still as these designs are still very much in style.

I love the nonchalant look on the sailors face as he gets tattooed in this piece, it’s almost as if he is duty bound to get Betty’s name tattooed on his arm, rather than it being an act of emotion, as he has very much moved past wearing his heart on his sleeve, where as now he just has his latest ‘squeeze’ on his arm.

What do you think?  Why not tell me in the comments…?


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