Humans have been marking their skin permanently for thousands of years. A tattoo can be a remembrance, a constant prayer, a warning, or simply an amazing work of art. The reasons behind them can be intensely personal, decorative, whimsical, or utilitarian. They can signify tribal allegiance, personal history, or nothing at all. Collected below are recent images of skin art and a few glimpses into the owners of these tattoos and their reasons for modifying their own bodies.
Tattoo devotee Deryn Stephenson poses during The Tattoo Jam Festival on August 5, 2011 in Doncaster, England. The Tattoo Jam Festival is Britain's biggest gathering of tattoo professionals and skin art devotees. The event hosts over 300 artists working in the exhibition hall of Doncaster Racecourse revealing their latest designs and techniques.
People display their tattoos during the third Sydney Tattoo and Body Art Expo on March 11, 2011.
An artist tattoos the arm of a client during a tattoo festival at Legian Kuta on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, on September 23, 2011.
Miljenko Parserisas Bukovic displays some of his 82 tattoos of U.S. actress Julia Roberts during a photo-shoot in Valparaiso, Chile, on March 9, 2011. Parserisas, 56, started getting tattoos of the actress after watching her film "Erin Brockovich". The newspaper vendor, who has spent a million pesos ($2,500) for the 82 tattoos of the actress inspired by various scenes in the film, plans to get more tattoos of her on his chest, back and arms as long as there is space and he has the money.
A Maori warrior performs during an official welcome ceremony for the Rugby World Cup in Auckland, new Zealand, on September 3, 2011.
Leader of Mara 18 street gang, Marlon Martinez, gestures while inside a maximum security cell within the Torre de Tribunales courthouse in Guatemala City on March 30, 2011. The gang members were sentenced to 47 years in prison for the murder of Jorge Winter, a teacher at the Etapa II correctional facility, during a riot.
A man has his leg tattooed during the third Sydney Tattoo and Body Art Expo on March 11, 2011.
A man with a completely tattooed face attends the Berlin Tattoo Convention at Tempelhof Airport on December 4, 2010 in Berlin, Germany.
A tattooed model presents a creation by French designer Thierry Mugler during the Men's fall-winter 2011-2012 ready-to-wear collection show on January 19, 2011 in Paris
A Russian specialist shows his tattoo in front of an Su-30 during MAKS-2011, the International Aviation and Space Show, in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, on August 16, 2011.
In this photo taken March 16, 2011, Duane Barker of Rome, Georgia, shows off his tattoos. Barke said the tattoos on his chest -- of Marlon Brando and Johnny Cash -- were probably the most painful because they cover his collarbone. He and his wife Amanda Barker have decorated their bodies with tattoos of stars, including Sharon Stone, Vincent Price, Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Al Pacino.
A woman poses with her tattoos at the 19th International Tattoo Convention in the central German city of Frankfurt am Main on April 16, 2011.
Skater "Cherry D'vine" from the Stockholm Roller Derby shows the tattoos on her hands before a women's flat track roller derby bout against the Kallio Rolling Rainbow in Huddinge June 11, 2011.
A visitor displays her tattooed back on a balcony of the exhibition hall during the 13th International Tattoo Convention in the Czech capital Prague, on June 10, 2011
A man displays his tattoo during the third Sydney Tattoo and Body Art Expo on March 11, 2011.
Maria Jose Cristerna poses for pictures during a press conference at a tattoo shop in Bogota, Colombia, Friday, June 3, 2011. The Mexican tattoo artist said she started to cover her body in tattoos, piercings, titanium implants and dental fangs to re-invent herself as a vampire, her reaction after suffering domestic violence. Cristerna is in Colombia to attend a tattooing international convention.
Soccer fan Martin Hueschen, 41, from Dortmund has a design showing Germany's soccer trophy and Borussia Dortmund soccer club coach Juergen Klopp, tattooed on his back at a tattoo shop in Unna April 20, 2011.
Tattoo artist David Meng of China shows off his tattoos by tattoo artist Tang Ping at the London International Tattoo Convention in London September 25, 2011.