"People tend to empathize with major events...until the next big thing happens. But we think the world's issues deserve more than just a moment of empathy. The Social Tattoo Project is making empathy permanent."
Making empathy permanent. The Social Tattoo Project description certainly got my attention. We live in a time when legions of people are sporting ironic self referential tattoos, parents are looking for cut-rate deals on baby portraits, and just too many have chosen to immortalize Kat Von D on their own bods. So tattoos used for social good could be a welcome relief -- a break from the fashion, marketing and general media clutches that have swooped in to co-opt an ancient art. Of course, The Social Tattoo Project is created by three interns at the BBH NY ad agency.
That said, these interns sold me on their experiment to blend art, social media and human interest together. It also helped that they partnered with our friends at Sacred Tattoo in SoHo, whose artists Matthew Adams and Jon Mesa are doing the actual tattooing.
Here's how the project works:
Our volunteers are getting tattoos that represent worldly issues, but they have no idea what their tattoos will be. They are letting you decide.
So far, five volunteers have gotten tattoos with the following topics: #human trafficking, #poverty, #Pray for Japan, #Norway, and #Haiti. The Haiti tribute tattoo video is shown below (finished tattoo is above).
All tattoo videos can be viewed on SocialTattooProject.com.
What makes me a bit uncomfortable, though, is the idea of having someone else choose your tattoo, particularly from the whims of social networking. The biggest twitter trend this week was the earthquake that hit the East Coast. And do we really want to see more of these "I Survived the Quake" tattoos? [In this case, I have little empathy for dumbassness.]
But whether you agree with the praxis or not, the theory behind The Social Tattoo Project is positive and interesting. Kudos to interns Haywood R. Watkins, Stephanie Krivitzky, and Jennifer Huang for their hard work on this.