Tallahassee and Tattoos

The tattoo scene in Tallahassee is just starting to bud with half sleeves and calf tats popping up everywhere. Within Tallahassee there are sixteen tattoo parlors. Specific places are getting a lot of buzz and specific star artists are getting even more. To compare, some more urbanized cities, Philadelphia for example, are nicknamed “tattoo towns”. With over one hundred tattoo parlors and a large naval population, Philadelphia is on the front end of tattoo culture.  But where are the places to go around here? Euphoria on Gaines Street is at the top of the list with Alain taking credit for many successful tattoos. His name is known in the Tallahassee tattoo community, and his work is highly recommended, even by other professional tattoo artists. Tatty Daddy’s, The Iron Inkwell, and Old Glory Tattoo are all trailing right behind Euphoria. Each artist offers their own strengths, whether it be black/white, realism, abstract, portrait, color- there is a place to go.

An interesting dynamic exists between college students and tattoos. We are at the peak of our youth, trying to creatively express ourselves in a personal but publicized way. But body art violates professionalism; or so we are told. Employers pick employees based on their ink or lack of. Many even deem ink ‘unprofessional’ and ‘tacky’. To us students who are desperately trying to impress employers, this causes conflict. Personal expression vs. blending into the ‘work environment’- which matters more? Clearly, personal-expression is making a strong case as tattoos are becoming more and more popular. But why has employer bias not stopped the craze? Our invaluable and ever-slipping youth is certainly a factor. Tattoos are largely a youthful fad; young adults who are finally able to be in charge of their own bodies indulge themselves in ink. Fads come and go and recently, art-inspired tattoos have come into play. With Gustav Klimt outlines and Monet flower collages, tattoos have been made into even more permanent masterpieces, each personalized. That, I think, is the most appealing aspect of tattooing for us millennials. We find security in achieving our need for individuality, yet do so without being ‘tacky’.

In the past, tattoos were part of a rugged culture- symbols of a labor intense environment and lifestyle. They developed formally within the sailor and biker cultures. Then, becoming huge within naval and military life, tattoos became binding as group identifiers and symbolic representations of belonging. As with everything, time went on and the culture changed. Now, here we are in the present where tattoos are so common, it may even be strange to not have one. Our elder generations still hold onto the notion of ruggedness, definitely contributing to the ‘employer judgment’ complex, but our generation grew up with tattoos as artistic badges of personality and character. There is nothing inherently rebellious about that.

MAYA SAXENA / Contributing Writer

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