Tattoos are an expressive representation of what we: stand for, hope to aspire to be, want to commemorate, use as an everyday reminder, or a piece of beautiful, rich art drawn into our bodies. When a man videotapes and zooms into a tattoo in the making at 15 frames per second, and then slows down for a clearer look into the details at 32 frames per second, it provides viewers with a unique micro-perspective into the creation process. His Smarter Everyday YouTube channel has collected over 115 million views of an exploration of science in a quick summarized form captured through the lens of his high-quality camera.

The secret to permanency of tattoos is found in the deeper layer of skin known as the dermis, that also holds within it nerves and blood vessels. Once the needle passes through the outermost layer, the epidermis, it reaches the dermis, and it alerts the body to start an inflammatory process.

It’s interpreted as a wound, and the immune system sends out cells called macrophages that wind up eating the dye in an attempt to clean up whatever is causing the inflammation. Skin cells called fibroblasts hold the rest of the tribal ink suspended in the dermis forever (unless you undergo laser tattoo removal).

If you go back over 2,000 years ago, tattooing wasn’t always this way. In fact, the legacy of tattoos throughout the world permanently designing the skin has been found on Egyptian female mummies, representing the rank value tattoos gave to ancient societies. However, the earliest known was the discovery of the Iceman along the Italian-Austrian border in 1991, fully equipped with tattoo patterns and carbon-dated at 5,200 years old, according to the Smithsonian. The practice eventually traveled to Japan in year 720, and it was used to punish criminals as to parade them around as alienated members of society. However, by the late 17th century they become fashionable.

In 1891, tattoo artist Samuel O’Reilly was inspired by Thomas Edison’s autographic printing pen, and he invented the electric tattoo machine, a now rudimentary version of the tattoo machines used today, seen above in slow mo. But once the fear of the spreading hepatitis B epidemic in New York City, they banned tattooing and it took until 1997 to lift the ban.

Today, scientists at Harvard University have supplied the world with an erasable tattoo ink, which doesn’t quickly fade and wash up but instead makes it easier to remove by a laser, just in case your great idea of getting your girlfriend’s name over your heart turns into a regret when she breaks up with you.