Tattoos are a 7,000-year-old art form. Modern tattoo artists are exceptional at their craft, and the body art they create fulfill the desires of young, old and everyone in between. The tattoo art form continues to evolve with extraordinary, three-dimensional art, new highly refined inks and inking products and ever-expanding consumer demand.
How Tattoos Work
During the tattooing or “inking” process a portion of the ink oozes back out of the skin. Some additional amount of the ink is absorbed by the body into its lymphatic system. The remaining particles that are trapped in the skin form the tattoo. About 70% to 80% of the particles that form a tattoo are engulfed by tissue macrophages. Tissue macrophages are derived from circulating monocytes that function by migrating to and digesting infectious organisms and foreign bodies. When they encounter tattoo ink particles, which are chemically inert and resist destruction, tissue macrophages hold them in place permanently.
Tattoo Demographics & Statistics
According to a 2015 Harris Research Poll, among the current generation of young adults (“Millennials”) adoption of tattoos has been unprecedented. Almost half (47%) of Americans age 18 to 29 have a least one tattoo. Generation X (ages 36 to 50) polled at 36%. Baby Boomers at 13%, and those older (age 70+) at 10%. For the first time, women have surpassed men in the adoption of tattoos 31% versus 27%. Of people with tattoos, 7 out of 10 have more than one and 2 out of 10 have six or more tattoos. According to IBIS World, the market is expected to grow even further. Currently, it is estimated that in the US there are 21,000 tattoo parlors generating $1.5+ billion in revenues. The projected annual market growth rate in the tattoo industry is 18%.
Image Credit: advdermatology.com
Why People Get Tattoos
Tattoos are an important and relevant form of self-expression. They portray who we are, how we feel and how we want others to think and feel about us. Tattoos commemorate important events and honor significant relationships in our lives. They can be poignant, whimsical, artistic, tribal and more and may portray beauty and violence.
While some tattoos may be inked during moments of frivolity or simply youthful indiscretion, that is not the case for the great majority of people. Tattoos are overwhelmingly inked at momentous moments and in the context of significant and emotionally powerful events in people’s lives. They are usually accompanied by exhilaration and celebrate important and even life altering experiences. Personal relationships such as love, marriage, birth or death of close relatives may be the most touching of these. Then there are also major life events such as acceptance into organizations that form and dominate people’s identities, such as the military or certain social groups. In other cases, the sheer beauty of increasingly complex multicolored images with which they can decorate their body appeals to many people. All of these impulses are expressive of a tattooed person’s unique and special character. Tattoos establish and enhance their self-esteem. Tattoos provide personal fulfillment.