Artistic Expression On Your Skin

Times are a-changing.

Growing up, I was largely told to stay away from people who had tattoos. I was told that these people lived on the fringes of society, belonged to gangs, or were otherwise caught up in no good. They’d be members of the Triad, for example, and I didn’t want to get mixed up in that.

While there were certainly perfectly good people who happened to have tattoos, it wasn’t really that mainstream a thing to do. You’d see them on rock stars and professional athletes, but it was much more uncommon to see them on a white-collar worker who was supposed to be a “well-to-do” kind of person. Perspectives haven’t completely changed, but they are definitely shifting.

In my own East Vancouver neighborhood, I’m starting to see more and more tattoo parlors show up on many blocks. There’s one on Main Street near 30th Avenue that used to be a dry cleaner. There’s one near Victoria and 33rd. They’re popping up everywhere and, even some of the affluent and “conservative” people I know have tattoos. Then, there are people like Leo.

To my knowledge, which is fairly limited in this realm, it’s not any cheaper to get a tattoo today than it was ten or twenty years ago. The cost of tattoo supplies is probably about the same, adjusted for inflation. It’s just that more people are getting them and, thus, more tattoo parlors can then be supported. And they don’t have to be hiding in holes in the wall.

All kinds of celebrities have tattoos. From Angelina Jolie to Britney Spears, David Beckham to Hayden Panettiere, celebrities from all genres are not opposed to some ink on their skins. We probably could not have said the same about folks like Humphrey Bogart or Marlon Brando, right?

At the same time, there are just some people that I can’t imagine ever getting a tattoo. He may be the root of all evil, but I seriously doubt John Chow would ever go under the needle, so to speak. I wouldn’t either.

What do you think? Are tattoos and piercings much more mainstream today than they were even a few years ago? Are they more commonly perceived as “artistic” or “personal” expression these days, rather than a symbol of rebellion and fringe society?