Tatts and Cats

Tatts and Cats is a trend that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. The cat tattoo, or rather, the ‘Cattoo’ combines my loves of both the cat motif and fine line art. Whether it’s channeling the inner beast of the wild cat or giving some edge to a cute kitty, the feline form has become prevalent in so many gorgeous and permanent pieces of art, now more than ever before.

Traditionally tattoos existed as a straightforward indication of self by distinguishing people from one another in the same sense as a scar or birthmark. They then evolved to signify subcultures and symbols became related to being part of a certain group. Today tattoos still represent this sense of individuality and belonging, but take on much more abstract and creative forms. Tattoos are seen as a way for people to not only express themselves but to establish a sense of identity.

Nowadays when you walk down the street, its seems like every second person is repping some ink. Body art has become more appreciated and tattoos are now widely acceptable in the mainstream. Tattoos often take form as elaborate works of art and tattooists are recognized for their individual styles and quirks. One off ‘flash’ tattoos are becoming less popular, and people are starting to search for a certain level of sophistication and creative skill.

I am personally attracted to tattoos that are not literal, but where an image or word relates to a personal feeling or a catalyst in an abstract way. My three tattoos all signify a moment in my life that has in some way changed me and brought to the surface strong feelings of either sadness, self reflection, or joy. Behind their abstract symbolism they represent a sense of calmness, strength, and commitment.

In regard to the Cattoo, tattooists have seen an increase in its prevelance and also a changing focus. Of course the meaning to why people get certain tattoos will vary with any motif, but it’s interesting to see the type of feline people are now requesting. Artist Betty Rose of Eight of Swords tattoo parlor in Williamsburg, NYC has seen an increase in cat related tattoos and has even made the cattoo her specialty. “People used to get wild cats all the time, but it’s a sea of domestic cats now. People are more OK with sharing the fact that they have cats and they love them.”

Perhaps the internet may be the cause of this change? The once negative connotation related with the crazy cat lady has now shifted as felines have taken over the web. Maybe there’s a little crazy cat lady in all of us and it took our obsession with all the online viral videos for us to realize this. Tattoo artist Liam Sparkes touches on this idea, with the presence of the cat motif in his work. “I think cat images are generally popular, maybe because everyone has some sort of relationship with cats in some way.”

My most recent tattoo was my version of a cattoo. I got the word ‘feline’ inked on my left wrist at a time when I  was struggling to feel strong and sure of myself. The cat for me carries many meanings revolving around the balance between seemingly opposites – inner and outer, action and rest, light and dark. It has many lives and the ability to fight when backed into a corner. For these reasons I see feline as my stronger self and during the tougher times this tattoo reminds me to keep persevering.

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