The Guardian just posted an opinions piece posing that tattoos were “finally becoming uncool.” They noted the hugely circulated Super Bowl moment where Adam Levine had flashed his man nipples and fresh tattoos for the world to see. They also included last week’s Vogue shoot with Justin Bieber, where his ink was the focal point, as opposed to the designer clothing itself.
The worry that tattoos are becoming too mainstream has the tattoo industry torn. Many artists are frustrated that the culture has moved from badass work to barely-there “babe ink,” but tattooers also are thankful that tattooing has become more widespread and acceptable.
At the heart of it, tattoos aren’t “becoming uncool.” From those who are dedicated to the artform, its sole purpose was never meant to be a trendy fad. The work is mainly meant for the client’s personal satisfaction. Looking rad is a bonus.
Plus, while calling tattoos “trendy” is cringeworthy, isn’t calling them “uncool” even worse?
While the tattooed, even to this day, endure dirty looks on the subway—or worse, being touched and oohed and aahed at like circus freaks on the street—celebrities like Levine and JBiebs are facing judgment; not for having tattoos, but for their selection and quality… even though the principle of personal commemoration remains in place.
The rise of tattoo acceptance—or at least incidence—comes from many things, including more revealing clothing, young celebrity culture, and the next era of employees (tattooed millennials) flooding the job market. That market itself is changing the idea of acceptable presentation, as telecommuting rises, hoodies replace neckties, and performance matters more than appearance.
While soon your bosses will be just as tattooed as you, there is still this feeling of “frauds” saturating the tattoo world. This fraudulence is from our society’s fascination with the posterchildren that represent superficial-star culture. And this is where the “tattoos are too mainstream” frustration stems from.
Though it’s true that all tattooed people are created equal, but not all tattoo ideas are, there is nothing wrong with getting tattooed just for the sake of being tattooed. This is why it is important to focus on tattooing as an artform, instead of focusing on tattoos being cool or uncool. The only way to put the “cool or not cool” argument to rest, and to fully embrace body art as an accepted form of self-expression, we should instead show our support for tattooing’s social climb by admiring and acknowledging the artists that prove themselves to be the backbone of the tattoo industry.
This is not achieved by “liking” and obsessing over the tiny dotwork on Instagram influencers and models. It is done by equally weighing our infatuation with the tattooed celebrities as we do for the ink on our friends, doctors, and coworkers.
Obsess over the tattoo artists that have dedicated their lives to the artform, as well as the everyday people that endure the pain of it all, for themselves.
Because they’re the coolest people of all.