Apr 082012
Authors: Chance Johnson

Musicians, ex-convicts, hookers and Hell’s Angels. Up until recently, these
were the types of people associated with the former deviance known as tattoos. Now, it’s become trendy to look like one of these dangerous demographics of people, which has ironically dulled its edge. The shock value of having a tattoo has lost its luster, just like that faded first mistake I put on my arm when I was 17.

A battle ship on some former Navy sailor’s tricep has turned from black to dark green, a blurry remnant of the past. This is evidence of who he was, what he did and where he went… a record of his life. Now it’s the norm for a frat boy to sport a tribal design while under the impression that he is doing something original and tough. The “originality” ranks right up there with the Superman logo and the infamous “tramp stamp.”

Rocker Mike Ness has summed this up nicely by saying, “I got tattoos for purely antisocial reasons, and now people do it for social acceptance. I miss the individualism.” Ness hits the nail on the head. There was a time when tattooing was an art form that allowed a person to stand out from the crowd, and now, it’s become extraordinarily normal.

Getting tattooed is such a beautiful way of mapping out one’s life and a reminder of what you were passionate about at that particular time. I certainly have tattoos that I would never get a second time, but it reminds me of where I was at that point of my life. But what does a tribal arm band represent other than a lack of creativity?

I often ponder to myself what would be a great up-and-coming career for someone to jump on. The first thing that always comes to mind is tattoo removal. Trendy frat guys and sorority girls are bound to have a “what was I thinking?” moment one day when they are in the locker room of the country club or driving the kids to soccer practice. Just like any fad, there will be a turn around and businesses ready to cash in on it.

“What Were you Inking?” is a removal service in Denver that has already caught wind of the regret that follows tattoos. On average, prices are about $200 per session for every few inches of tattooed skin, requiring five to 15 sessions.

There is a silver lining to the introduction of body art into the mainstream. Tattoos in the workplace –– once considered more scandalous and taboo than today –– have emerged into a form of self-expression that has become more tolerated in recent years. There has long been the fear of tattoos being an automatic disqualifier for a good job, but I would never want to work for a business that barred people for innocently wanting to be themselves.

Although many employers still hold reservations about the public display of body art while on the clock, new generations of employees are entering the work force, diluting the former negative conception of individuals with tattoos.

.Madwire Media is an Internet design and marketing firm in Loveland. One of Madwire’s project managers, Stephen Seward, has actually appeared in several tattoo magazines.

Seward sees a change in tides with how tattoos and other forms of body art are depicted professionally, saying, “The typical view of a business man is changing as younger generations are entering the business world. As new companies grow, new generations come in and it becomes more acceptable.”

“I’m a very professional person,” Seward said when explaining that tattoos should not be a factor when determining an employee’s professionalism. “The fact that you can look at someone and automatically discriminate is offensive in itself.”

As someone who literally wears a heart on his sleeve, Seward explained that it’s hasty to count someone out even if their tattoos can be considered offensive.

“There are tattoos that are purposefully offensive. At the same time, you need to consider that person’s past: What led them to getting a certain tattoo? Could be something they now regret? People need to understand the person and who they are, rather than what they look like.”

Chance Johnson is a senior journalism major. His column appears every other Monday in the Collegian. He can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

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