Tattoo is represented as a symbol of personal status and family belongingness in the tribal society. However, people who have marked their bodies with "tattoos" in the past decades in Taiwan are often referred to a negative connotation. In particular, male with tattoos were seen as almost criminal. In recent years, these negative images towards tattooists have changed dramatically due to more and more people, in particular, young people let their skin punctured and leaved permanent marks or designs on their bodies. The aim of this research is therefore to study the transformation of identity in the tattooists and to figure out different patterns of tattooists’ identities in the future. Data was conducted with 24 interviews with tattooists as well as two months of participant observation in a tattoo workshop.
By using the typology analysis, there are four types of tattooist differentiated, that is a) Type 1: Using tattoo as personal diary, b) type 2: Tattoo as sharing togetherness and memories, 3) Type 3: Tattoo as a status symbol in the gangster group, and d) Type 4: Tattoo as symbol of loyalty toward a gangster group. Results show that tattoo and tattooists are more and more accepted in the modern Taiwanese society. It includes, for example, tattoo shops are more visible in cities and even in 2012, "Taiwan International Tattoo Art Exhibition and the world''s top Tattoo Competition" was held in Taipei. Although having tattoos becomes a fashion in modern Taiwanese society and certainly will rise its popularity in the future, this research found that tattoos as a symbol of traditional identity are not disappeared, in particular, in showing a feeling of belonging and status in the gangster group.