Art that adorns the flesh…
The debate over regulating tattoo has raged on and on for a very long time now. Opinions on the subject are divided, to say the least and I have taken to this blog on numerous occasions to weigh in with my own opinions. In case you haven’t read any of those previous blog posts, I’ll just state right here and now that I am for regulation. I think the art form can benefit from regulation, but only if it’s done properly – and by properly I mean if only the tattooists themselves are listened to and understood as a particular case, not glommed on to other concepts of “health and beauty”.
It seems that the most recent country to weigh in on this debate is New Zealand. The Auckland city council has recently introduced a bylaw that will require all tattoo studios to be licensed. The bylaw doesn’t specifically target tattoo studios, but focuses instead on any commercial services that risk breaking, burning or piercing the skin. Since tattoo falls under this umbrella, it is now required by law to be licensed. Other businesses that are included in this bylaw are tanning clinics as well as hair or nail removal services.
While health ministers and the like are cheering this recent change and while it does indeed have its good points, overall I fear that it likely isn’t a good move for tattooists and their respective places of work. Tattooing is not even in the same stratosphere as hair and nail removal or tanning. This move lumps tattoo in with beautician services and seriously undermines tattoo’s place as a genuine and credible art form. From a health standpoint, it is always good to see laws in place that ensure that those who will be tattooing the public are licensed professionals. However, the needs and requirements of tattooists are nothing like those of beauticians.
If tattoo is going to be regulated and licensed, then it needs to be done properly and separate from all other forms of commercial business. A sub section needs to be created within the health boards of various municipalities and it needs to be staffed by those who are familiar with exactly what it is that tattooists require to do their jobs. This would by no means be a small undertaking, but I feel it is the only way that tattooists could feel that the regulations they face are based on actual understanding of the industry that they work in.
For what it’s worth, moves like those of the Auckland city council are perhaps a step in the right direction, but unfortunately they also serve to show the public that there is a long way to go before tattoo is given the respect and understanding that it surely deserves.
There are so many reasons for a person to get a tattoo, from showing solidarity with an ill family member to commemorate the death of a loved one, to immortalising a specific date or event in your life. The reasons for tattoo are as varied as the tattoos themselves. If boiled down to its core however, there is typically one constant behind the reason for tattooing your flesh and that is because the tattoo you are receiving means something to you. A tattoo is and forever will be the personalising of a particular event, place, ideal, etc. The key word here is “personal” because that is what tattoo always is. I think we can all agree on that, right?
That personal aspect of tattoo is exactly what causes me to voice my disgust with people who feel it’s necessary or cute or justified to get their pet tattooed or pierced. It might sound like some sort of obscure incident, but lawmakers in New York state passed a law this past week that makes it illegal to tattoo or pierce your pet. The fact that the need for this law has come to the attention of the state of New York indicates that tattooing pets isn’t as obscure or rare as we might think it is. As I said, tattoo is a personal act, as is piercing. Taking on body art is a decision that a person makes on their own and only when they have reached the legal age to do so. No sane person would take a child to a tattoo studio without the child’s consent and have them tattooed or pierced. The same goes for animals. An animal cannot give its consent to being tattooed or pierced and furthermore, it is not being tattooed or pierced with something it has selected through its own free will. If you get your pet tattooed or pierced, make no mistake about it: you’re a first class scumbag.
This isn’t a difficult concept to understand: respect the lives of others, whether they be a kitten or a small child. Everyone has the right to their own life. Obviously this practice of tattooing animals has something to do with filling some disgusting niche market out there for people who think it’s cool or cute or whatever to get a pet that has a little something different about it. If you want a little something different about your pet, maybe your own life needs to be more exciting. Animals are not blank canvases for you to alter as you see fit.
Short but sweet insight into the life and work of wonderful tattoo artist Paul Dobleman…
Pssst! Hey kids, check this one out:
Everyone knows about the Wikileaks and the NSA spying programme and all the metadata that is being collected every time that you access your email or Facebook page – and if you don’t, well this isn’t really the forum for it, but I suggest you read up on it all. But as far as tattoo goes, how much do you know about the advantages your tattoos give to the FBI and its image collection pursuits? Interested in knowing? Well, you can find out a little bit more on that topic here:
Oh come on. I mean, I’m looking at this article right now and although I know that there are more important things in the world to be angered over than some teenager being denied the right to have her tattoo immortalised in a year book photo, I can’t understand why anyone would go to the trouble and effort of erasing a tattoo from someone’s photo. Apparently, that’s exactly what the higher ups at Wasatch High School in Heber City, Utah decided was an appropriate course of action.
Granted, Wasatch High School is a Mormon school and they do have what are called “modesty” standards in place for their students, but are tattoos still really that big of a deal in 2014? The tattoo in question that so deeply offended the staff of Wasatch High belonged to Shelby Baum. The sophomore’s collar bone was tattooed with the words “I am enough the way I am”. Baum was allowed to pose for her year book photo with the tattoo clearly exposed, but when the yearbooks were distributed, she discovered she had been edited.
‘The tattoo is a simple line of script Baum chose — after consulting the school dress code — to remind her of her journey out of difficult times during her childhood.
“My tattoo was a huge thing in my life,” Baum said, choking back tears. “I’ve come a long ways. My tattoo means a lot. It reminds me I am enough. For them to cover that up? They should inform me first. They never said anything to me.”‘
It seems to me that for young women especially, their teenage years are an extremely difficult time. So many young women suffer from a lack of general confidence that often carries on into their adult lives. A young girl who is emboldened by a tattoo is not a bad thing and should not be treated as such. Her being proud of who she is does not deserve punishment, it deserves praise. This entire incident only serves to underscores how the personal value of a tattoo is all too often belittled by those in positions of power and authority.
I don’t expect a lot of open-mindedness at any sort of religious institution, but it seems especially hypocritical to me that a religion such as Mormonism would condemn one of its followers for immodesty, given that the religion’s founder was after all, a convicted felon. Furthermore, Baum’s alleged immodesty was not in fact, prohibited by the school’s dress code.
I sincerely hope that Shelby Baum doesn’t take her high school’s intolerance to heart. She’s in the right. All of you out there who have tattoos and are proud of them are in the right (unless of course your tattoo is of something truly inhumane and horrible.) Power to everyone who gets strength from their tattoo. You don’t ever have to justify it to anyone.