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Why Do People Get Tattoos? – 7 Most Common Reasons

People get tattoos for many reasons, and tattoos make them stand out in many ways. Today, getting tattoos is a result of various motivations, all explained below.

People have always wanted to get tattoos, and they still do now! Even from ancient history, there is proof that people worldwide have marked their bodies in one way or another. These methods have evolved, and today, the tattoo culture’s popularity is even more on the rise.

But for now, the question is not whether people want to get tattoos, but, why do people get tattoos?

We can answer that for you, everything is explained below.

Why Do People Get Tattoos?

People get tattoos for various reasons, but among the main ones are: coming from a certain culture, belonging to subcultures, showing appreciation to life segments, decoration, rebellion and individuality, medical/visual coverage, psychological addiction to the pain/process.

It is not extremely simple to pinpoint the definite reasons for getting tattoos into categories, however, it could be divided into two main categories: belonging and standing out (in certain groups/cultures), as well as getting tattoos solely for bodily imperfections.

Top 7 Reasons for Getting Tattoos

Reasons for Getting Tattoos

1. Coming from a certain culture

We have mentioned above in the start that tattoos are common even from a long time ago. The first dated tattoo is from circa 3100 BC as many archaeologists debate, so this is proof enough that tattoos are not so simple as we think of them today.

culture tattoo

Nowadays, tattoos are seen quite often, and we think that diminishes their meaning, but obviously, tattoos were considered very much important and significant in the past. There are many situations where mummies were found tattooed, and surprisingly, then tattoos were reserved only to mark criminals, bandits, and historical heroes.

2. Belonging to subcultures

More often than not, tattoos are a symbol of specific groups of people. Luckily, nowadays the ink is not used to mark ‘evil’ or ‘bad’ people as it was in the past, and today we have many reasons to get tattoos.

subculture tattoo

Still, our societies even now keep on practicing separations between subcultures; for example based on music, life goals, work, and business functions, and similar. So, based on that, people tend to hang out with people alike. Those that love tattoos will gravitate towards those who also want them, or make them. This is not written in stone, but it is normal to want to feel accepted and less judged (hence people who are into tattoos).

3. Appreciation to life segments

Some people do not want to rush with getting just about anything tattooed permanently on their skin. These people are not interested in trivial decor just for decor’s sake.

However, they think through their ideas long and hard before they put them on their skin, and usually, this is some sort of appreciation and hard-earned respect. For example, this could be marking a significant part of life like childbirth, wedding, separations, or late/deceased people, beloved pets, and similarly crucial, meaningful life events.

4. Decoration

Decoration tattoo

Another reason for getting tattoos is the decor itself. Now, this doesn’t have too much depth, and it is more like a fun and casual reason to go to the salon. For some of us, tattoos are nothing scary, and even the ‘permanent’ factor doesn’t scare us.

Have you ever felt that you can get one after another tattoo, without thinking much of their meaning or looks?

This is more common than you think. And, if something goes wrong, or you dislike that tattoo after a while, there is always laser removal or another (cover-up) tattoo! Besides, beauty standards tend to somehow change over time – in the past, clean skin was considered gorgeous, but now, everything goes!

5. Rebellion and individuality

Sadly or not, sometimes tattoos are the final result of being the black sheep in society. This can be viewed from many perspectives, and almost always, those not accepted tend to do things with their bodies and faces to be seen.

Rebellion tattoo

And, the need to be seen doesn’t mean a need to be accepted. The psychological basis here is that the more tattooed people are shunned, the more they will be noticed. If we cannot be accepted, at least we can be seen, and that works just fine.

Anyway, individuality is expressed through tattoos, and this has nothing to do with the personality of a tattooed person, so yes, sometimes it is just causing visual awe in others.

6. Medical/visual coverage

The tattoos prove to be very useful and practical for many health or visual issues. Think about all the ways a tattoo can help you feel confident. Starting from flaws we don’t like, up to more serious issues – today the tattoos and tattooing techniques are so advanced and modernized that they even seem flawless!

For example, many cancer survivors or any illness survivors (after procedures and operations), cover their scars with tattoos. Many artists are even able to mimic the look of a breast and nipple where a breast was previously removed due to cancer.

Also, people who survived depression episodes, self-harm episodes, or similar grave problems, cover their scars with tattoos that hold a dear and deep meaning to them.

Women who are not confident with their bodies after a c-section, or they have many stretch marks – also use tattoos to cover these up.

Many males who start to notice balding of the head turn to modernized tattooing of the scalp, and getting the look of a ‘dotted, hair roots’ almost shaved head. You see, tattoos help with many issues with our bodies nowadays!

And, we have to accentuate that every person, every body type, every scar – everything and everyone is beautiful, and a tattoo can just add to the individuality factor, keep this in mind!

7. Psychological addiction to the pain/process

Lastly, there is always the addiction to needles and the tattooing process.

Some of us are almost enjoying the needle pain a bit too much, but not just any needle pain – specifically the tattoo machine needles. All of us who get tattoos enjoy this pain because it produces something permanent, and it is a one-time pain for a forever-lasting art on our skin.

Also, for most of us tattooed people, getting tattoos and going through this pain is highly therapeutic from every viewpoint imaginable. It is like a therapy session with our mind, while an artist silently or with a friendly tone, creates art just for us, on our skin. This cannot be fully explained, it has to be experienced!


In conclusion, getting tattoos is extremely fun, and truth be told, still to a certain point is an extreme activity that is a lifelong visible thing on our bodies.

In the past, people got tattoos for many reasons, and most of them were to have a certain mark, in most cases a negative one.

However, nowadays, we have the advantages of getting tattoos we choose, great quality art, for many, various reasons. Whether it is decoration, standing out, meditation-like therapy reasons, respecting one’s culture, or covering scars with meaningful images – we have the advantages to make tattoos a gorgeous piece of art, no matter what our reason is!

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