offbeat_inkBirthmarks are marks on the skin that we are born with. They come in various formats and should always be checked as they can become malignant or indicate an underlying condition.

Port wine or strawberry marks are red in colour and involve an unusual development of the blood vessels just under the skin. They are usually seen in pale individuals. Café au Lait or Mongolian birthmarks are an opaque brown in colour and are most often seen in olive complexioned individuals. These types of birthmarks can sometimes fade over time. Other birthmarks are freckles and moles.

An interesting fact is that the location, shape and appearance of birthmarks sometimes run in families so siblings or cousins can have identical marks on their skin. Like the best tattoos, they can be original, unique and really rather special. God made tattoos, some people call them. But since when is God allowed a monopoly?

‘Identity Matters’ magazine (no, we had never heard of them either…) apparently asked a team of designers to come up with an innovative idea in the field of tattooing… and so they did. This new concept by Dutch designers Julia Müller, Arjan Groot and Menno Wittebrood is called Birthmark Tattoos.

The team came up with the idea of ‘birthmarking’, or tattooing brown designs on the skin. Café au lait, anyone? Among the brainstorming gems that were put forward were the idea of duplicating a loved one’s birthmark on one’s own body, tattooing oblique designs that, like clouds on a summer’s day, can be imagined to look like star signs or other images and, another brilliant vision was one where a message was tattooed in Braille into the skin. The actual suggestion put forward by one bright spark was writing “big motherf***ing eagle” in Braille. Charming, I’m sure.

While I am all for innovation, I am not entirely sure that this is actually all that new an idea. People have been duplicating birthmarks for many years, white tattoos with their secretive nature have been around for a while, African and other tribes have for centuries used scarring (tactile tattoos, if you like) to convey identity and meaning and obscenity in tattooing is hardly a novel or original act…