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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Addison Anderson
  • Director Sam Lee, Mike Patten
  • Animator Chris Anne Lindo, Claire Van Ryzin
  • Artist Rena Parisi
  • Narrator Michelle Snow


Additional Resources for you to Explore
Want to learn more about the history of tattoos? Looking for a unique, historical design for a tattoo? Peruse the Smithsonian Institute for ideas! See pictures of the bronze tools used for tattooing and learn the importance of tattoos to different cultures. National Geographic also has a colorful tattoo timeline called “Pigments of Imagination” where you can learn what a carp or lion tattoo represents or the meaning of “yakuza” a Japanese form of tattooing. Check out Skin Stories and Polynesian tattooing to learn which elements make up a Polynesian tattoo! Why do geometric designs play such an important role in the culture of their tattoos?

Why do people get tattoos? What is it that draws people to create lasting images on their bodies? Tattoos have the ability to represent moments, leave lasting impressions, and raise emotions. Check out this article in Psychology Today for insight into the tattooing phenomena that has becoming popular today. What would inspire you to get a tattoo? What might keep you from getting a tattoo?

Tattoos also have a dark side and have been used for purposes that may not be so inspirational. Auschwitz prisoners in World War II were tattooed with serial numbers on their left forearm (most commonly) when registered. These tattoos serve as lasting reminders of the horrors suffered and are often never removed by the survivors. Listen to the story of Henia Bryer “Why I Kept My Holocaust Tattoo.” For a different perspective on Holocaust tattoos, read this New York Times Article about how families of Holocaust survivors are choosing to bridge Holocaust memories lest the atrocity be forgotten. Watch a video clip from the movie Numbered to get a true and perhaps new perspective from the generation of Auschwitz survivors and how they feel about being “numbered.”

Could getting one tattoo may lead to another? Why do many people get more than one tattoo? Is it an addiction? Is it an expression of who they are? Read the article, “Why Do People Get More and More Tattoos?” and find out the answer! Can tattoos have a communicative value? Read here about how a tattoo’s communication value and visibility are linked! Does where a person’s tattoo is say something about that person? Has a tattoo ever “communicated” something to you about it’s owner?

Truly thinking about making a permanent addition to your body? Watch this TED Ed lesson: ”What Makes Tattoo’s Permanent,” before you take that next everlasting step!

For some creative photos of tattoos, check out the Program from the Quai Branly Museum’s Tattooing Exhibit.