Tattoos have been a form of self-expression for centuries, but did you know that there are some fascinating facts behind this art form that might surprise you? From the world’s most expensive tattoo to the oldest person to get their first tattoo, here are 30 surprising tattoo facts that will blow your mind.
1: You can tattoo your eyeballs.
Yes, you read that right – you can actually get your eyeballs tattooed. The risky process involves a tattoo artist using a needle to inject ink under the eye’s surface, coloring the sclera (the white part of the eye).
2: Tattooed men are more attractive (according to research).
According to an article in Psychology Today, women find tattooed men more attractive. It seems that tattoos can add an extra level of attractiveness and appeal to the opposite sex.
3: The most expensive “tattoo” was made with diamonds.
Yair Shimansky, a jeweler from Cape Town, South Africa, designed the world’s most expensive tattoo on a South African supermodel. Although it’s not technically a real tattoo, it’s considered the most expensive tattoo ever created.
4: The oldest evidence for tattoos dates back more than 5000 years ago.
Ötzi, a mummy found on a glacier in the Italian Alps, is the oldest evidence of tattoos dating back to 3270 BC.
5: New Zealand is the most tattooed country in the world.
New Zealanders are the most tattooed people globally, mainly due to the island’s Māori population, who still get traditional Polynesian tattoos.
6: The first tattoo shop ever was in New York.
In 1846, Martin Hildebrandt, an immigrant from Germany, set up the first tattoo shop in New York. A few years later, the first electric tattoo machine was patented based on Thomas Edison’s invention of the perforating pen.
7: The oldest person to get a first tattoo was 104.
A British man named Jack Reynolds got his first tattoo at the age of 104, and he currently holds the title of the oldest person getting a tattoo for the first time.
8: You can donate your tattooed skin to a museum.
If you’re fascinated by human tattoo canvases being displayed as art, you can donate your skin to a museum after you die. A man named Geoff Ostling is doing just that and giving his floral-patterned body to the National Museum of Australia upon his death.
9: The word tattoo comes from the Samoan word “tatau.”
The word mimics the tapping sound of the tools used during the process of tattooing.
10: Tattoo ink used to be mixed with urine.
Russian prisoners sometimes made ink out of urine mixed with soot when they couldn’t find anything else.
11: Romans used tattoos as a punishment.
The Roman emperor Caligula punished people with tattoos, and when Constantine took over as emperor, he forbade tattooing, even as punishment.
12: There’s a tattooed Barbie.
In 2008, Mattel did a collaboration with Harley Davidson, where Barbie had a big pair of wings tattooed on her back. Later in 2009, the Totally Stylin’ Tattoos Barbie was released, where the infamous doll came with tattoo stickers.
13: You can get your nipple tattooed after breast cancer.
For women who have undergone breast reconstruction after cancer, specialized tattoo artists can create a hyper-realistic nipple in 3D, made entirely of ink.
14: In Maori culture, tattoos are a symbol of status.
In Maori culture in New Zealand, tattoos are not just a form of self-expression but also represent a person’s status, rank, descent, and skills. These tattoos functioned like an ID, passport, or resume, printed on the face, usually around the mouth and nose.
15: The head and hands are two of the most painful places to get a tattoo.
The most sensitive areas on the body are also the most painful to get tattooed on. These include areas with many nerve endings, such as the face, hands, genitals, neck, and nipples. Areas where there are bones with little or no fat around are also the most painful, such as wrists, ankles, feet, collarbones, ribs, and elbows.
16: Tattoo needles can vibrate up to 3000 times a minute.
When injecting ink into the skin, the needles attached to the tattoo machine can vibrate up to 3000 times per minute as they move up and down.
17: The longest tattoo session to this day (2023) is 61h 36min.
In 2023, Giovanni Vassallo achieved the record for the longest tattoo session ever in Genova, Italy, lasting an incredible 61 hours and 37 minutes.
18: Black ink is easier to remove than yellow ink.
Contrary to popular belief, black ink (along with dark green) is easier to remove than lighter colors like yellow or purple. This is because different ink dyes respond to different light wavelengths.
19: A tattoo takes 2-3 weeks to heal completely.
After getting a tattoo, the outer layer of the skin typically takes 2-3 weeks to heal. However, the layer underneath can take up to 6 months to fully heal and return to normal.
20: Tattoos can have a positive impact on mental health.
While tattoos have been associated with rebellion and counterculture, recent studies have shown that getting inked can positively impact mental health. Research has found that getting tattoos can increase self-esteem, boost confidence, and help individuals overcome trauma or difficult life events.
21: In ancient Egypt, tattoos were used to mark enslaved people and criminals.
In ancient Egypt, tattoos were often used to mark enslaved people and criminals who had committed a crime.
These markings would label them as criminals or enslaved people so they could be easily identified if they tried to escape. The marks might also indicate the severity of their crime or what type of punishment they were subjected to. This practice continued in some places until the 19th century.
22: The first electric tattoo machine was invented by Samuel O’Reilly in 1891.
In 1891, Samuel O’Reilly invented the first electric tattoo machine. This machine revolutionized the art of tattooing and made it possible to create much more detailed and intricate designs than ever before. By using an electrical motor, the artist can control how deep into the skin the needle goes, giving them much finer control over their work.
Find more statistics at Statista
23: Approximately 14% of Americans have at least one tattoo.
According to a survey conducted by Statista in 2021, it is estimated that around 26% of Americans have at least one tattoo.
This number has steadily increased over the years as tattoos become more and more socially accepted. The same survey also found that 41% of Millennials have tattoos, a stark contrast with the baby boomer generation – only 13% of that age group had tattoos. With the rising popularity of tattoos, this number will likely continue to climb in the coming years.
24: Miami, Florida, is the most tattooed city in the United States.
Miami, Florida, is the most tattooed city in the United States, with nearly 20% of its population having at least one tattoo.
This is likely due to the city’s relaxed attitude toward body art, vibrant nightlife, and beach culture. Miami also houses some of the best tattoo artists in the country, making it a great place to get inked.
With so many options, it’s no wonder why this city has become the mecca for tattoo enthusiasts.
25: The world’s most tattooed person is Lucky Diamond Rich, who has tattoos covering his entire body, including his eyelids, mouth, and ears.
Lucky Diamond Rich is the world’s most tattooed person, a New Zealand man known for his extensive body art. His tattoos cover his entire body, including eyelids, mouth, and ears.
He holds the Guinness World Record for being the most heavily tattooed living person, with 100% of his body covered in ink. His unique look has earned him worldwide attention, and he’s even appeared in documentaries and magazines.
Rich is the most heavily tattooed person in the world, a testament to his commitment to body art.
26: Being a professional tattoo artist without a medical license was illegal in Japan.
Being a professional tattoo artist without a medical license was illegal in Japan. This law was implemented to protect the public from potentially dangerous practices and reduce the spread of infectious diseases through tattoos.
Fortunately for ink lovers in Japan, the Japanese Supreme Court has since struck that law down.
27: Many ancient cultures believed that tattoos had magical or spiritual powers.
Many ancient cultures believed that tattoos had magical or spiritual powers. These beliefs varied from culture to culture, but some of the most common include protection from evil spirits and luck in battle.
For example, the Picts of Scotland believed that having a tattoo would make them invulnerable to arrows and other weapons in battle.
In Polynesia, tattoos were seen as a way to mark an individual’s rank and status in society, while in Japan, they were believed to bring good fortune.
Other ancient cultures believed tattoos could grant access to the spirit world or provide spiritual protection. Today, although many of these superstitions have faded away, some people still believe in the power of tattoos.
28: Some people get tattoos of their favorite brand logos or products as a form of advertising.
Some people get tattoos of their favorite brand logos or products as a form of advertising. This practice, known as “branding,” is becoming increasingly popular with younger generations looking to show their loyalty to particular companies and products.
For example, some avid gamers may get a tattoo of their favorite video game character or console, while others may tattoo a logo of their favorite clothing brand.
By getting these tattoos, the individual shows off their dedication to a product or company and advertises it to anyone who sees the tattoo. It’s a unique way for companies to communicate their message and cultivate customer loyalty.
29: In some cultures, getting a tattoo is a rite of passage into adulthood.
In some cultures, getting a tattoo is a rite of passage into adulthood.
For example, in the Maori culture of New Zealand, tattoos are a vital part of the coming-of-age ceremony known as Ta Moko.
During this process, young men and women receive facial tattoos that signify their place in society and symbolize their courage and strength.
In certain Native American tribes, tattoos were also used to mark the transition from adolescence to adulthood and signify a person’s spiritual and social status within society.
Even today, many people get tattoos to commemorate important milestones or represent personal growth.
30: The first recorded instance of someone getting a tattoo removed was in 1967 by Dr. Leon Goldman using a laser.
The first recorded instance of someone getting a tattoo removed was in 1967 by Dr. Leon Goldman.
Although this method was effective at removing tattoos, it had the potential to cause a great deal of pain and scarring, so it soon became obsolete. Over time, more advanced laser removal was invented, making tattoo removal easy – albeit still painful.
If you’re in Denham Springs, Louisiana, and looking for a talented and reliable tattoo artist, check out Faithful Tattoo Studio.
Our experienced and skilled artists can help you create a unique and beautiful design customized to your individual tastes. We use only the best inks, needles, and aftercare products to ensure your safety and satisfaction.
Contact us today for more information or to book an appointment!
Thank you for considering Faithful Tattoo Studio for your next tattoo!