Alternative Title

Modern tattoo experience for adults aged thirty and over

Publication Date


First Advisor

Elaine Kersten

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School for Social Work


Tattoo, Body modification, Body art, Perception, Narratives, Social work, Stigma, Heavily tattooed, Tattooed adults, Tattooed people-Psychology, Tattooing-Psychological aspects, Body art-Psychological aspects, Body marking-Psychological aspects, Stigma (Social psychology), Social workers-Attitudes


This qualitative study was undertaken to determine what meaning individuals aged 30 and over with large scale tattoos place upon those tattoos. More specifically, to establish the motivating factors led these individuals to get tattooed, along with the meaning, if any, is placed upon them. Ten individuals aged 32-64 were interviewed regarding their tattoos. Half of the individuals were tattooed for the first time during adolescence. All individuals were interviewed regarding their motivations for getting tattooed as well as any meanings they place on specific pieces. The findings of the research showed the driving force behind getting tattooed to be highly personal and varied as the individuals themselves. While the reasons for those who were tattooed as teenagers agreed with findings in the previous literature, the experiences for tattoos acquired after age 30 were as colorful and varied at the individuals themselves




iii, 49 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2017. Includes bibliographical references (pages 39-41)