When you walk into a tattoo shop, you hear the buzzing of the tattoo machine, the somewhat muted Rock and Roll tunes, and the occasional grunt of the customers sitting in their artist's chair. You see people covered head to toe in ink, artists with their heads down holding a needle to some part of the skin of their client. You see the grimacing faces of the patrons sitting in the chair while their tattoo is being applied. You ask yourself, why would someone go through so much pain to have their body permanently marked? Aren't they going to regret that?

Hell's Angel Member
Hell's Angels
Although this might be a pretty common question, tattoos have always been a controversial part of body adornment that some have embraced, and others have disgraced. They used to be reserved for the "bad boy in the motorcycle gang that would ride cross country with his posse destroying towns and dive bars wherever he went." Just think of all your bad ass dudes from Sons of Anarchy. Because of this stereotype, people would associate tattoos with bad behavior, bad work ethics, bad reputations, and shady activity. But now, tattoos have become a much more mainstream part of life and far more accepted by people of all backgrounds. It is common in the western world to see the younger demographic with at least one tattoo, whether it be small and hidden or they are completely decked out head to toe in them.

But what exactly is making tattoos become more widely accepted and appreciated by young people versus the older crowd? Many celebrities are giving their tattoos plenty of camera time on and off screen. From David Beckham to Demi Lovato, the red carpet is not only star-studded, but inked up as well. Paparazzi will catch stars running to and from the grocery store in a tank top or shorts showing off all of their amazing ink. All the exposure that the tattoo industry is getting from Hollywood is making body art seem more acceptable to the younger demographic. Not only does Hollywood publicize and romanticize it, but the younger generation is much more open to things that seem taboo to the preceding generations. Coming from an era of war-torn countries, people growing up during these times have more conservative and reserved opinions of things out of the norm, a big one being body modifications. Piercings, implants, and tattoos are not natural developments of the human body, so older folks might wonder why on Earth anyone would want to damage what was given to them.

Now I'm not saying that people will stop getting them just because they're out on a night of drinking with their friends and in their drunken stupor thought getting a tattoo would be great idea only to regret it in the morning. There are countless reasons to make the choice to get a tattoo. One of these
Blackwork Tattoo
Sara Fabel's blackwork
being that tattoos have recently become much more of an artistic gesture than a rebellious one. Clients are often referred to as a "canvas" in the shop, their skin being the literal canvas to the artist's ink. There are countless styles of tattooing that (in my opinion) could each carry their own artistic movements. Some of these styles are known as blackwork, old school, new school, traditional, neo, and photo-realism amongst others, just as there are countless movements throughout painting. Cosmetic tattooing is being brought to the spotlight now too, as people are constantly wanting to get their eyeliner or eyebrows permanently embedded in their skin, and even to cover skin disoloration due to medical conditions. Whether this is for convenience, for building self-esteem, or to sport a sweet new work of art, tattoos can serve a deeper purpose than just a reminder or a drunken night.


Another reason many people get tattoos is because they have gone through some kind of mentally and emotionally taxing time in their
Mastectomy Cover-Up
Mastectomy Cover-up
life. People, young and old, get tattoos to cover scars that are remnants of surgeries to remove cancerous tumors, tattoos to cover old ones that remind the wearers of bad times and bad decisions, and even if the customer just wants to wear a beautiful piece of art. Whatever the reason may be, tattoos are a way of permanently symbolizing a kind of release from one point in life and turning the page to a new chapter.

Tattoos are becoming less and less taboo as time continues, but no matter how mainstream they become, there will always be a demographic that will never approve.

- Melissa Leimer -


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