Time was when a person with a tattoo is stereotyped as a criminal, sailor, biker, rock star or anyone with a rebel image. In more recent times, tattoos have become more acceptable, with even clean-cut celebrities and highly respected politicians sporting the ink. But what exactly are tattoos?
Tattoo is practically a form of art in which the human body is used as the canvas. It basically modifies the person’s body by inserting ink or even mineral stones into the dermis layer of the skin. The insertion will result into a changing of the pigment. Usually, indelible ink is used and this results into a permanent tattoo. Other forms of ink have recently been introduced, such as henna, which allow the tattoo to slowly wash away after several days. In some instances, gemstones or expensive minerals have been encrusted into a person’s skin.
The origin of tattoo has not been established, but the first reference to it came from explorers who saw natives from islands in the South Pacific sporting scars and paints on different parts of their bodies. Tattooing, however, has been a widespread practice in different cultures all over the world from the Maoris of New Zealand and the Berbers of North Africa to the Kurds in Eastern Turkey and the Atayals of Taiwan. Tattooing has also been practiced in North and South America, other parts of Asia, and Europe. Indeed, even the inhabitants of Great Britain derived its name from the art of tattooing. Britons actually means people of the designs. The original inhabitants of northern Britain were called Picts, which stands for the painted people.
Famous People with Tattoos
Tattoos may be considered as aesthetic, as the art created by the tattoo artist can enhance a person’s beauty. Even some of the most beautiful celebrities in the world have had their bodies painted with ink. Among them are Scarlett Johansson who has a sunset scene tattooed in her inner forearm, Jessica Biel who sports a dove in her right abdomen, Victoria Beckham who has several tattoos on different parts of her body, and Jessica Alba who has ink on her lower back, neck and right wrist.
Tattoos have also been spotted in royalties from way back. King George V of England who had a red dragon in his arm, while King Frederick IX of Denmark also had several markings. In more recent times, Princess Stephanie of Monaco is known to have tattoos all over her body, thus earning for herself the nickname The Wild Child.
Politicians like Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, and George Schultz, the former Secretary of State, also have tattoos. The two leaders of the free world during World War II, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, also had ink. The British prime minister had an anchor tattoo on his right arm, while the American leader had his family’s crest inked on his chest.
Even great thinkers and writers took time out to get a tattoo. George Orwell had blue spots painted on his knuckles, while Thomas Edison had five dots on his left forearm. How it helped them write and invent, we will never know.
Diamond Tattoo as a Marketing Tactic
Tattoos have also been recently used to help promote a company. If you have seen Discovery Channel’s American Choppers, you can see the owner of the place sporting a tattoo of his company’s logo and name on his arm.
In South Africa, a jeweler in Cape Town named Yair Shimansky thought of having his diamonds tattooed on a model. No, the tattoo will not be a simple ink design bearing his company name and logo. Instead, he decided to make use of his products rather than the normal tattoo ink.
The Company Behind the Most Expensive Tattoo
Shimansky is a chain of retail stores in South Africa. It also has branches abroad. The company has its own diamond cutting and polishing business based in Johannesburg. His diamonds are known to be of the highest quality, and his marketing ideas are one of a kind. In 2010, during the football World Cup held in his country, Shimansky came out with a ball encrusted with diamonds weighing 900 carats.
Shimansky also came up with the idea of the most expensive tattoo, in which he will use real diamonds encrusted into the skin. The only problem was where to find the right model.
The Girl with the Diamond Tattoo
Five years after Stieg Larsson wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shimansky came out with the jeweler’s reply to the bestselling book. He chose one of the hottest international models from South Africa, Minki van der Westhuizen.
Westhuizen was a Guess and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model that has been in the modeling business since she was just 16 years old. She immediately found success and soon got herself cover spreads in the best fashion magazines, like Bravo, Cosmopolitan, Elle, GQ and Glamour. She is well known in her native country, having been adjudged the sexiest woman of South Africa by FHM magazine.
The Most Expensive Tattoo in the World
Westhuizen proved to be the perfect model. While ink is the most popular medium for the art of tattoing, Westhuizen had her back encrusted with diamonds from the Shimansky collection. Of course, being the brand model of the company probably helped in her selection.
The procedure took up a lot of time, as a total of 612 Shimansky Ideal Cut diamonds, each weighing half a carat, were tattooed into the model’s body. All in all, the entire thing took about eight hours. Water adhesive was used to ensure that the diamonds will not stay on Westhuizen’s skin permanently. As much as she wanted to, the model probably would have a hard time lying down or resting on her back with all those stones stuck to her body.
The strategy of Shimansky was to promote his jewelries to high-end clients. There are plans to have similar tattoos offered to clients in any of the company’s eight stores in the country and four abroad. One has to shell out $924,000 for it, however.