January 23, 2022

"What's Up With The Ignorant Tattoo Style?"

I learned a lot from this fascinating video:

 

I became aware of this phenomenon yesterday, when I saw this and this at the subreddit r/shittytattoos.

Here's video of the "[c]reator of the famed Ignorant Style tattoo style, Fuzi... a street art legend."

And here's an Instagram collection of Ignorant Style tattoos.

I'm pretty amused by the concept and, especially, the name — though I think most examples of this sort of thing are a mistake. Many years ago, probably in the 1990s, I saw a young woman on campus that had a tattoo of a bathtub on her neck. Just a dark line drawing of an old-time claw-footed bathtub with the pipe extending upward for the shower head. I felt so bad about it. And I love bathtubs. But now I can see that it was an early example of the Ignorant Style!

ADDED: Back in 2009, I blogged about a tattoo artist that did things that he might characterize as Ignorant Style. It's at least adjacent to Ignorant Style. I said "I love these scribbly tattoos!" You can see a lot of his things at Instagram, here.

63 comments:

Wilbur said...

Video Girlie, you're overthinking this and are near obsession level. Wow.

Reminds me of my HS football coach who would tell one of us, "Well, that was damn ignant." If you then looked at him, he'd say "You don't even rise to ignorant. You're ignant."

Scot said...

"Ignorant" is a synonym for "wack".

Lem said...

The "ignorant" style is reminiscent of Dada, 100 years ago.

I take the use of the word "ignorant" to mean a conscious ignoring of the standards/rules prevailing in the genre. Without these challenges, art grows stale and dies.

I don't get the "stupid" tag. (It's probably because I'm stupid 🙄)

Gerda Sprinchorn said...

Notice that most of these tattoos are skillfully executed. They don't want to be seen as low-class and ignorant. They are saying this was a deliberate and thought out choice.

Ann Althouse said...

“ The "ignorant" style is reminiscent of Dada, 100 years ago.”

Or Art Brut.

Ann Althouse said...

The topic is the Ignorant Style, not tattoos generally.

I have to do some deletions to get us on topic. This is a new subject not a return to an old topic.

typingtalker said...

The "ignorant" tattoo style looks like something common to New Yorker cartoons.

stlcdr said...

If one was going to get a tattoo of a bathtub, what should it look like?

Does 'ignorant' style apply to other art forms, paintings for example? Would a tattoo of a Campbells soup be considered ignorant, especially if you didn't understand the reference or meaning?

Ann Althouse said...

It’s okay to comment on aesthetics like the Ignorant Style that appear in places other than tattoos, but please don’t write about tattoos unless you’re talking about Ignorant Style tattoos.

Aggie said...

As in art, as in music, it's the modern degradation of quality and coherence of thought and aspiration that disappoints me the most. Ignorant is as ignorant does. What are we supposed to be admiring as we gaze upon these efforts? Even the irony is low-quality and disappointingly unremarkable.

farmgirl said...

Ignorant style tattoos:
1) created to look naive and childlike
b) meant as shock art
2) meant to snub haughty, smug ppl
b) created by famous ppl who feel superior to deplorable- types
3) created w/a simplistic line, w/out color
b) meant to be placed randomly/lacking symmetry
4) 4ever

Stupid is as stupid does.
Could u do white tattoos next, please?

John henry said...

Lem said..

I take the use of the word "ignorant" to mean a conscious ignoring of the standards/rules prevailing in the genre.

That is one of the more interesting comments here in a while.

I've always thought of ignorant an "not knowing" something. But your sense of knowing but not caring or ignoring something works well too.

It gives an interesting and completely opposite slant to the word

John LGBTQBNY Henry

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

I don't know that this is anything new. I remember seeing a lot of Zig Zag Man tattoos in the 70's done in this style. I always put it down to the tatooee being stoned and broke.

Heartless Aztec said...

I particularly like the facial teardrop tattoo done in the ignorant style. They are lovely in their incipient warning about the artistic mein of the person bearing them. Primitive yet still culturally stylish. No?

hiawatha biscayne said...

trying to look like jailhouse tats

walter said...

Borrows from prison tatts as opposed the highly involved and expensive designs like the video host has.

Joe Smith said...

The style is fine...not my thing but Fuzi looks to be an accomplished artist.

If I needed someone to illustrate a project in that style I'd hire him.

But I will never understand why women (especially) get all inked-up including full sleeves, neck, etc.

The woman in the video frame is very pretty...why mess with it.

Reminds me of a white woman I saw in Kinkos once. I mention her race to rule out the cultural element.

I watched her for two reasons.

1) She had words written all over her face...her nose, her cheeks, her forehead.

2) She was stunning. Absolutely gorgeous.

I wondered; a black-out drunken mistake? Mental illness? Both?

Joe Smith said...

Btw, to AA...I think my previous comment reflects on the ignorant style as her tattoos were crudely drawn words. No aesthetic attempt whatsoever...

Narr said...

That is old school jailbird style tattooing, turned into a play in the theater of fashion.

Visual ignance.

Professor Toynbee, meet Jim Goad.

JMW Turner said...

Was Grandma Moses an early purveyor of the Ignorant style of painting?

chickelit said...

Ignorant tattoos are to "artsy" tattoos what punk rock was to '70s rock--a deliberate reaction to restrictive style. As for facial tattoos, cf. Harvey Keitel's "ignorant" facial tattoos in "The Piano" to the stylized facial tattoos on the cover of the Rolling Stones' "Tattoo You."

Lars Porsena said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...
It’s okay to comment on aesthetics like the Ignorant Style that appear in places other than tattoos, but please don’t write about tattoos unless you’re talking about Ignorant Style tattoos.

Are we supposed to address these styles like the difference between Ionic and Doric?

bentoak said...

The Ignorant Style is new to me, but I like the ones I've seen. The comparisons she makes to doodling, graffiti, and shock art are apt. Quirky is a good description too. When she said, "That's too meta to talk about," it made me go look up the word 'meta'.

robother said...

I can't figure out if the legendary "No Regerts" tattoo is proto-Ignorant Style or just ignorant. Maybe it is all just branding.

wild chicken said...

Imagine defacing your skin with something merely ironic.

*strokes own lovely tat-free arms*

Ann Althouse said...

"Btw, to AA...I think my previous comment reflects on the ignorant style as her tattoos were crudely drawn words. No aesthetic attempt whatsoever... "

Ignorant Style is an aesthetic and it is intentionally practiced by people who are attempting to do something that has meaning to them. This is the new topic that I consider worth discussing. It is not the old topic of bad tattoos, which I think I've blogged a few times in the past. I consider that sort of thing — which is what r/shittytattoos is usually about — to be a topic that is more than 10 years old. Some of the comments I deleted were things I saw written about at lease 10 years old — like misspelled words, bad Chinese characters, stretched out skin, and good looking women ruining their attractiveness to the dismay of men. These are very trite things to write about and it's a problem for me because I only blogged this because it was new. And it's really interesting if you build up your knowledge base before talking about it, which is easy to do by watching the video. Don't just tell me you think bad tattoos are maybe the same thing as Ignorant Style tattoos. That's not why I put this post up.

Ann Althouse said...

"Was Grandma Moses an early purveyor of the Ignorant style of painting?"

What do you think? Is "naive" or "primitive" or "folk art" the same aesthetic as "Ignorant Style"? Is it even close enough that it's worth asking the question without immediately distancing yourself from your question?

Ann Althouse said...

If you think you're scoring points by putting down people doing something they call Ignorant Style, you really ought to be sure *you're* not ignorant on the subject you're talking about.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ignorant tattoos are to "artsy" tattoos what punk rock was to '70s rock--a deliberate reaction to restrictive style."

Now, that's a good point and something we should all be able to understand. A good key into the the discussion if you're having trouble getting traction.

66 said...

Post-modernism ruins everything.

Ann Althouse said...

"I can't figure out if the legendary "No Regerts" tattoo is proto-Ignorant Style or just ignorant."

I am leaving your comment up solely to help people get on track here. The answer is NO, it is clearly not the same. The Ignorant Style is an artistic choice, not a matter of screwing up. It's more a matter of loving screwed up things — more like underground comics or Basil Wolverton.

Bilwick said...

Excuse my snobbery, but "Ignorant Tattoo Style" sounds like a redundancy.

Ann Althouse said...

I just deleted the comment "There’s a lot of mental illness causing bad tattoos" but I'm quoting it here just so I can vent by saying There’s a lot of mental illness causing bad comments.

And why not resist calling other people mentally ill? You don't know them. You're not a doctor. And you're contributing to our idiotically repressive society that makes some people want to thumb their nose — or tattoo their nose — at propriety and good taste.

I just said out loud, as I was deleting comments: These comments are making me want to go out and get an Ignorant Style tattoo!

Especially awful — in my view — are all the many comments from men expressing the idea that women exist for them and therefore ought to keep themselves pristine. How pristine are you, guys? These women don't want you!

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

hiawatha biscayne said...

trying to look like jailhouse tats

Jail ink is not necessarily the best quality, but it's generally superior to these.

David Begley said...

Ann:

If you are going to get a tat, at least make the “artist” trace out one of your Althouse rats. Now that I think about, have your entire back covered in Althouse rats.

Edgy! Fighting the Man!

BUMBLE BEE said...

Harvey Keitel's tatoo in "The Piano" is Maori Facial Tatoo. Google It. I would not recommend calling anyone with such adornment "Ignorant". Might be your last words. They are a significant warriors' art form. From Newzeland.com... Māori face tattoos are the ultimate expression of Māori identity. Māori believe the head is the most sacred part of the body, so facial tattoos have special significance. Women usually wore moko on their lips and chins, or sometimes on the throat.

Ann Althouse said...

"Harvey Keitel's tatoo in "The Piano" is Maori Facial Tatoo. Google It. I would not recommend calling anyone with such adornment "Ignorant"..."

Right. You'd think the presence of the word "Ignorant" would motivate commenters to not display ignorance.

It is so easy to google questions like: What Harvey Keitel's tattoo in "The Piano"?

It's actually hard to believe anyone would see "The Piano" and not know what that tattoo was.

To conflate traditional folk art with a present-day ironic faux primitivism is really failing to accept the challenge of this discussion.

mikee said...

How does popularity in style of tattoos grow or decline? I'm sure there are more origin stories for styles than there are commenters here.

Ignorant style has been noticed as popular now. Which factors are significant in the spread and popularity of the style may never be known, unless one knows several tattoo artists with inser knowledge, who are also willing to talk.

I'd advise Althouse that noticing a style suddenly, because it has become popular, says nothing about the longevity of the popularity, nor the inherent quality of a tattoo in a particular style. Today's public and personal response to a tattoo may be, "Oooh!" and tomorrow it may be, "Uuuurk!" Before getting an ignorant tattoo, maybe wait a month and go in to the shop stone cold sober, without our comments driving you to later regerts.

farmgirl said...

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/484981453624249152/

It’s a photo of Tom Macdonald. He’s a rap artist whom I listen to often. Often enough. Would ignorant art necessarily have to fit the physical look of the actual tattoo- it would it be the intentional thumbing of the nose that makes it ignorant. If it were the actual tattoo-then this man wouldn’t qualify. If intent- he’s exhibit A.

He is a human specimen (spellcheck offers specialist) of ignorant art form. IMhumbleO

Joe Smith said...

'It's more a matter of loving screwed up things — more like underground comics or Basil Wolverton.'

Kintsugi anyone?

Joe Smith said...

'To conflate traditional folk art with a present-day ironic faux primitivism is really failing to accept the challenge of this discussion.'

Exactly...we are not discussing the Māori...

Tina Trent said...

Putting the bleeding heart of Jesus next to a satanic symbol is, for us, sacrilege. Just sayin'.

I'll believe she's a creative recycler of cultural and religious iconography when she does a tattoo of that Muhammad guy in the style of R. Crumb.

The biopic Crumb is a great way to pass a snowy afternoon. You'll emerging with a better appreciation for even your worst kin. Also great biopic: the inestimable I Like Killing Flies.

Scot said...

Maybe Althouse just got a jailhouse badger on her butt & is now having buyer's remorse.

Tina Trent said...

Lots hate cop stuff, lot of copyright theft, lots of barely disguised hipster political hate. But Spongebob can't not be funny.

The only tattoos that bother me are the brief fad of writing numbers on one's arm, to imitate Holocaust survivors. That's a whole new level of cultural appropriation. Too bad it was in the late 90s, so actual survivors were a bit old kick the some sense into them.

Yancey Ward said...

Graffiti is just ugly, no matter the style. Like a tattoo on male or female.

Nancy said...

Thank you Ann for an amazing link!

Paddy O said...

Ignorant tattoo style? Intriguing!
Ignorant commenter style? Infuriating!

Kylos said...

Getting a tattoo because others dislike them is pretty ignorant. So fits with the theme. But you’re free to do what whatever you want with your own body. Fortunately, I’m pretty sure men who don’t like tattooed women aren’t too upset that tattooed might not want them. No great loss there.

Heartless Aztec said...

The Maori have exquisite taste and a cultural history of their facial and body tattoos. None stem from irony or low tech skill emulation of the primitive. Their pen and inking is as far from fake prison punk inking as a Picasso is from a Biden.

Baceseras said...

The similarity to prison tattoos has been noted. There's also a similarity in graffiti when a wall is tagged with a jumble of small drawings and the over-all design just happens. Chance completing what practice begins. That idea was already making its way through the fine arts -- by which I mean easel painting, gallery-certified -- when graffiti artists (a selection of them) were brought into the charmed circle. And primitive drawing, crude, cartoony drawing, rough, as-if-untutored drawing, already made up part of acceptable, and accepted, fine arts work. Baziotes, obviously, and even earlier Kandinsky, and some of the Pop artists, Jasper Johns, the list could be extended in more than a few directions -- all made works that could have been called "Ignorant Style" if the term had existed. Now they can be shown as forerunners, when some museum curates the blockbuster exhibition "The Ignorant Tradition."

You can see Ignorant tattooing in The King of Staten Island, a funny movie, partly autobiographical, about a slacker unslacking.

Will Cate said...

I think this is a very interesting subject ... I don't know a thing about tattoo culture aside from what I see online, but intentionally-primitive art has always fascinated me, since: once the technique is stripped away, the viewer is more quickly forced to reckon with what the art really means.

That said, I had a hard time sticking with the entire video, because of the woman's poor speaking voice.

traditionalguy said...

All the world’s a stage. So why not tattoo the scenery to better identify the players. But what happens next season’s play bill is cast.

Wince said...

Pete Davidson is the King of... Ignorant Tattoos.

Narr said...

I took up the Prof's challenge to watch the vid but stopped at "Weird doesn't mean bad." (About 2 min in).

The Prof has ruled out suggestions of mental illness in ignorant tattoo wearers, but that leaves open cultural sickness, yet another return of the primitive, a vicarious nostalgie-de-la-boue for pampered children.

Not a new story at all, just recycled for the modern market.

David Begley said...

I’m always thinking about making money. I think Althouse should license her rat drawings to tattoo “artists.” They are both scribly and ignorant.

Walt Disney made his fortune based upon the drawing of a pest.

In the alternative, Althouse could open a tattoo studio in Madison and put that BFA to work. Name of the studio? Althouse’s Ignorant Tattoos.

Ceciliahere said...

Body as billboard….

Paul said...

What a bunch of F*cking Idiots..

Hey.. maybe I can get a set of branding irons and do this to folks for $$. Ignorant and painful tattoos! Yea, like P.T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute!"

Narr said...

The Badly-illustrated Man.

I didn't see any fylfots or sunwheels among the approved designs.

Gerda Sprinchorn said...

Big difference between Maori tattoos and faddish tattoos: Maori tattoos draw on a long and rich tradition that is intended to continue the tradition and help you fit into your culture which is intended to remain reasonably constant throughout your life. The chance of regret is, therefore, low. But faddish tattoos ...

daskol said...

The tats in the old post remind me a bit of the primitivism of Modigliani. These ignorant style tats put me in mind of Brazilian style street art that was all over the bqe billboards before they took most of them down.

daskol said...

I enjoyed the mystery for years more than the lame reveal

daskol said...

Rambo calls the art style mistakism, from the Mistakist movement started by Harmony Korine.

PM said...

Late comment: Great find, thx.
Like a lot of the Ignorant ink.
About time, imo, that tats got intentionally 'dumb'.