Areil Stanczyk

The history of tattooing stretches much farther back than the history of The United States. Native American, Polynesian, Egyptian, Japanese and other Cultures embraced the art form long before the Declaration of Independence. A published account of James Cook’s voyage to Tahiti recorded native islanders using the word ‘Tatau’ (tat-oo-a) to describe their body art in 1796. This quickly became ‘tattoo’ for English speakers and is how we refer to the art form today. 18 is not too young for someone to want to express themselves through an art form that will be on their body permanently.

Why People Started to get Tattoos

People got tattoos for many different reasons, mostly to express themselves and to help rather than harm for specific situations. Tattoos became popular and common amongst soldiers of both sides of the conflict in the early 1800s. They were a way for soldiers to guarantee that their bodies could be identified in the event of their deaths. 

Anonymous’s 1st tattoo

Anonymous Weighs In

An anonymous source who has 2 tattoos says, “18 is young enough but it also depends on what the tattoo is.” They also say they have to have a deep meaning to be able to be put on your body. They also don’t regret any tattoos because they took the time to figure out what they wanted. They were 28 when they got their first tattoo, the reason they wanted a tattoo was because they wanted something permanent to express themselves. 

Tattoo Artist Perspective

A tattoo artist of 5 years Billy Hopkins who worked at ‘Internal Ink’ in Alabama says,” If you are old enough to go fight in wars and almost die at 18 then you should be able to get a tattoo therefore 18 is not too young.” When asked if he regretted any of his tattoos the answer was yes because he was only 13 when he got his first tattoo. He chose tattooing as a career path because he was always into art and started tattooing at a young age. He felt like it was somewhere he belonged. Billy’s best advice for anyone wanting to get a tattoo is “Never get a name tattooed on you unless it is your mom’s or dad’s name”.

Tracing a tattoo

Missouri vs Wisconsin Law

In Wisconsin tattooing, a minor prohibits a professional tattoo artist from tattooing or even offering one to a child (under 18 years of age). Although in other states it is perfectly legal as long as they have a permission slip from a parent or legal guardian. An example of this is Missouri, the law for tattooing in Missouri is much like Wisconsin it Prohibits anybody from knowingly tattooing a minor. What is different about it is that they can get one if they have signed permission from the parent or legal guardian. If they don’t and are found guilty of committing this act, it could result in a fine between $500 to $1,000’s.

The Dark Side of Tattoos

There are a lot of bad stereotypes when it comes to tattoos, and not everyone agrees with the art form. Some people negatively use the art form. Nowadays many people associate them with gangs or violence. From Grey Journal, “Despite the growing popularity of the art form among sailors, and the lower classes, the aristocracy (The highest class in some societies) generally look down on getting inked.” Tattoos were also used to separate people from the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. People also use the art form to make profits negatively. Such as circuses and freak shows would use men and women with tattoos as an attraction. People would be scrutinized, laughed at, and made fun of at the shows. People would also look at them with disgust in their facial expressions.

Challenges You May Face

There may be some challenges when it comes to career paths, others’ opinions, and the stereotypes with tattoos. There are solutions such as making sure you can cover the tattoos, and being open-minded to others’ views on them. Try to change the stereotypes that come with the severely outdated art form. 18 is not too young for the art form as long as they have a deep meaning to you even if other people don’t understand it just from looking at it. Remember it is on your body forever, so have fun with your tattoos and get what you want to express yourself.