School of Visual and Performing Arts


Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art (MFA)


Christopher Phillips


Stigma, Mental Health, Metaphor, Tattoo


Arts and Humanities | Fine Arts


The art of tattooing requires meticulous safety measures and certification, consistent precision, an intricate knowledge of the tools being utilized, color theory, design principles, and adaptability. Despite the rigorous artistic and technical requirements, tattooing is often regarded as a service instead of an art form. This thesis seeks to explore some contributing causes as well as some potential solution strategies to combat this problem. This thesis argues that tattoo studios (and other applicable small businesses like salons) can combat social stigma by launching a product line to address a specific social issue. By donating a portion of proceeds from a specific product line to related charities and non-profits, a few goals can be accomplished: funding and awareness can be raised for the chosen social issue, people have an opportunity to become familiar with both the business and art form, and with each interaction there is a chance to shape perspective about stigmatized art and the chosen social issues. The proposed deliverables for this thesis consist of a series of products designed to represent various mental disorders. Many of the smaller walk-in type of tattoos are symbols for raising awareness for mental disorders so this product line will allow a client to become further involved in combating the social issue. The series will include an original poem, a hand dyed scented candle, a hand foiled label, a hand foiled candle box, a hand foiled match-box, and an illustration for each mental disorder.

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