Motivations for multiple tattoo acquisition: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Stephanie Anne Kalanj Mizzi, Tristan Leslie Snell, Janette Graetz Simmonds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: With the mainstreaming of tattooing, obtaining multiple tattoos has become increasingly popular. The aim of the current study was to explore in detail the specific motivations and experiences of heavily tattooed individuals. Method: Six heavily tattooed participants were interviewed in 2016 at the Gold Coast, Queensland. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse data from semi-structured interviews. Results: Superordinate themes included rebellion and non-conformity, the skin as canvas, and identity formation. Although participants experienced stigma due to their body art, they reported no regret about becoming tattooed. Tattooing was reportedly used to reflect participant’s personalities and honour their families and experiences. All expressed a high need for uniqueness and a desire to expand their collections. Discussion: This study elucidates the complex and varied motivations of those who acquire multiple tattoos. Common personality traits were identified, including a high need for uniqueness and low need for conformity. Some gender-specific motivations were also noted that require further research. Findings may assist to mitigate stigma against tattooed persons and inform health professionals who interact with this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-213
Number of pages18
JournalAdvances in Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • multiple tattoos
  • personality
  • qualitative
  • stigma
  • Tattoo

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