Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Taking On The Man

June 1st, 2010 by

The Man is always trying to keep folks down. Reluctance to accept tattoos into mainstream society is nothing new and at this point, it’s no secret that all of us – from the tattoo artist to the tattoo virgin contemplating their first tattoo – are already completely familiar with the language (read: excuses) used by the powers that be to try and nudge tattoos back toward the fringes.

A perfect example of this is the case of Redondo Beach, California resident and tattoo artist Johnny Anderson. Tired of his tattoo shop Yer Cheat’n Heart Tattoo being located too far from his home and in a less than desirable area of Gardena, Anderson decided in 2006 that he wanted to move to a vacant storefront in Hermosa Beach. In a perfect world this wouldn’t have been a problem, but unfortunately, we don’t live in one of those. Anderson’s request to move Yer Cheat’n Heart to Hermosa Beach was turned down on the basis that Hermosa Beach does not permit tattoo studios within its city limits. Apparently city officials in Hermosa Beach consider tattooing to be a risk to the public’s health and welfare.

Johnny Anderson however, disagrees. After being denied the opportunity to open his business, he took the case to federal court, suing for what he says is a violation of his First Amendment right to exercise artistic expression. This was back in 2008 and unfortunately for Anderson, he lost the case when the judge ruled that Anderson’s complaint was “not sufficiently imbued with elements of communication” in order to merit consideration as a matter of his constitutional rights being denied.

This past May, Anderson was back in the court room once again, fighting for his right to tattoo where he wants.

“…some constitutional law scholars predict the outcome could be different in what would be the first — and potentially precedent-setting — federal appellate decision on whether the tattoo artist is engaged in First Amendment-protected activity when designing and applying custom tattoos.”

It’s a long, uphill battle and maybe Johnny Anderson won’t be able to overturn the outdated laws and states of mind that keep tattoo artists out on the fringes.  But in the end, regardless of the outcome, this just seems to me like further proof that tattoo artists can and should confront the limitations imposed upon them and their art by society.

Something’s gotta give.

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.