Tattoo Taboos Drifting Away

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

November 28, 2005

Tattooing was made famous by the Egyptians--but the trend seems to be catching on in our country and you will never believe some of the people who have them.

You would never believe some of the people who have tattoos--bankers, doctors, lawyers. One artist said he tattooed a 62-year-old woman who wanted to live life in the fast-lane with 3 tattoos in one day and another who brought in a can of Campbells Soup to display on his body.

Tim Oliver is a tattoo guy. He's getting his 5th--a dragon--and doesn't think much about adding another.

"I like them. I think they're neat. I like a lot of color," said Oliver.

Walter Mason on the other hand, isn't the typical tattoo guy. He's a registered nurse, 56, married with children--but is working on his first piece of body art.

"Never. Never would have thought about getting a tattoo 10 years ago. I wouldn't have thought about getting a tattoo 2 years ago," said Mason.

But he did. This painter drew a unique picture of Barbie ironing in outer-space.

"Rigid ironing boards. An old ironing board ad from '57 I think," said Mason. "I thought well maybe a Barbie face would look better than the 1950s face and then I designed my own rocket ship, so it's big."

So big it has taken a year to finish and covers his whole back. That's got to hurt.

"It's like a metaphor for life. You have pain sometimes and sometimes you don't," said Mason.

So why are ordinary people suddenly getting tattoos?

"For a long time it was considered something that the lower class did, but it's really not like that anymore," said Ben Miller an artist from Capital Tattoo. "Trying to get people to think artistically rather than just putting stamps on their body."

It's being taken more seriously as an art form.

"I'm an artist first and a tattooer second. I paint, I sculpt and I tattoo. Tattooing is just a viable way to make money as an artist," said Miller.

These artists are also professionals. Virginia recently passed a law mandating that tattooers are licensed, which teaches them skills such as first aid and CPR.

Tattoos are fairly permanent, which is why you shouldn't make a quick decision. If you do have a tattoo that you regret getting, Part II of this series looks at the removal procedure.

Virginia just started allowing minors, 16 and older to get tattoos with their parents consent.

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