You can get a good sense of where we're at as a society by seeing what people wear or how they do their hair. But the same goes for tattoos, one of the most popular "accessories" people wear today.
According to a July 2015 survey by YouGov, 24% of Americans have gotten a tattoo (while 2% "prefer not to say"); when it comes to millennials specifically, nearly 4 in 10 have a tattoo, said a 2010 Pew Research report. Tattoos may be the most enduring, individualized style statements we can make, but there are still trends: styles of ink that cycle in and out as fashion, technology and even the political scene changes.
Those changes are captured in the latest video from Cut Video, the studio behind the viral "100 Years of Beauty" series. The videos, while short, are based on heavy-duty historical research. For the tattoo video, Cut Video's visual anthropologist Chris Chan worked with tattoo artist Clae Welch to pick a historical design based on an iconic tattoo master from each decade, from the 1910s to the 2010s.
Then they found someone willing to actually get all of the tattoos — all 11 of them, from every decade, on a brave soul named Casey Lubin.
In one week, Lubin submitted herself for the "amazing opportunity to ... have history be on my body." With Welch as a historical guide, Lubin picked out 11 tattoos that evoked a specific iconic tattoo master from each decade.
They went with images that embodied the ink aesthetic of the time, whether it was simple gray and black for the 1910s or bright, saturated colors in the 1920s. The 1960s design was inspired by tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle, whose tattoo for Janis Joplin was photographed for a famous Rolling Stone cover.
"After Janis' tattoo, he says that women's liberation really changed the face of his tattooing, and he tattooed for girls almost three years straight," Welch says in a second "behind-the-research" video.
The design from today, the 2010s, is a massive portrait in the manner of Nikko Hurtado, which resembles the detailed, colorful faces so many "millennials" are rocking today. The bold, can't-miss-it trend is a sign of where we're at. As the anthropologist Chris Chan puts it in the video, "I think we're socially more accepting of the choices people make to their own bodies and the autonomy they have over them."
Check out the full video below: