The reputation of tattoos was not the best for a long time, with them being directly associated with marginality: tattooed people were criminals, prostitutes, mainly between the 1920s and the end of the Second World War. At this time the most common art was what we know as Old School.

Today, with the popularization of tattooIn the last few years, the prejudices related to this art have been decreasing and people of various ages and social classes have adopted a drawing on their skin. An interesting way to demystify the bad reputation that involves tattoos is to see admired people carrying an artwork on their bodies.

Here we will look at the example of four brilliant people, great in their fields, who have made their work part of human history, and who have in common the fact that they have at least one tattoo.

The first tattooed genius and also unexpected is Thomas EdisonEdison, creative genius and father of many of the technological inventions that make our lives easier today, such as the electric light bulb. Among Edison's lesser-known creations is the electric pen, created to facilitate copying documents, and which, later perfected by Samuel O'Reilly, gave rise to the first tattoo machine. Did you know this?

It is not known for sure if this is why the founder of General Electrics had five dots tattooed on his arm, whose meaning and authorship are unknown. The five-dot tattoo is known in many parts of the world and has the most diverse meanings, as a symbol of fertility or of time spent in prison, for example. In Edison's case, there are only cogitations about the drawing on his arm, among them that O'Rilley himself may have done it.

Thomas Edison - Figures Stories and Tattoos
Thomas Edison


Tattoo machine created by Thomas Edison
Tattoo machine created by Thomas Edison

The second tattooed man is the author of one of the best-selling books of the 20th century, the questioning "1984". George OrwellOrwell, writer of other world-renowned works, had a troubled life, which went from education in aristocratic schools to begging in England; from defending socialism to fighting against the authoritarianism of the communist regime. On this agitated path full of strong opinions, not always to everyone's liking, Orwell, according to acquaintances, acquired a persecution mania, which would be the justification for the five blue circles tattooed on the finger rings of one of his hands. According to the tradition of Myanmar, where he served as a policeman, the symbols would ward off would-be enemies.


George Orwell - Tattooed Historical Figures
George Orwell

Still in the arts business, this time in the seventh art, the next tattooed man is considered one of the great actors in the history of cinema. Robert de Niro received 2 Oscars for "The Godfather 2" and "Raging Bull" and 4 nominations for "Taxi Driver", "Sniper", "Awakening Time" and "Cape Fear". In this last film, the actor played Max Cady, a character with several tattoos seeking revenge, which made De Niro need to paint himself with vegetable ink that only came out months after the end of recording. Unlike this character, the actor only has one body art: a black panther on his right shoulder, which, due to his extremely private life, has few records.


Robert de Niro in Cape Fear

Robert de Niro in Cape Fear
Robert de Niro in Cape Fear

Another genius tattooed personality is musician, writer, poet and painter Patti Smith, considered the mother of punk rock, one of the great figures of world music. The artist has a lightning bolt tattoo made by fellow artist, dancer and poet Vali Myers, who Patti says was one of her teenage heroines. The tattoo was made while the two were living in the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, a place that has been home to such illustrious residents as Bob Dylan and Charles Bukowski. The experience was described in her 2010 biography Just Kids:

I was sitting in the lobby drawing versions of lightning in my notebook when a singular woman appeared. She had wild red hair, a live fox on her shoulder, and her face was covered with delicate tattoos. I realized that behind the tattoos was the face of Vali, the girl whose portrait I had long ago hung on the wall.

Vali's technique was primitive, consisting of a large sewing needle that she sucked into her mouth, a candle, and a pot of indigo ink. I had resolved to be stoic, and sat in silence while she etched the lightning bolt into my knee.?


Patti Smith - Tattooed Historical Figures
Patti Smith

Skilled geniuses, dedicated, controversial, revolutionary, all with one thing in common besides talent: a design on their bodies, which, in these cases, does not serve to identify a criminal or someone you might not trust. They are what tattoos should be: forms of expression, in these cases of people with spectacular lives and magnificent, creative minds.



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