The style of self-expression through ink

Graphic showing the title, The style of self-expression through ink CREDIT: FSU PUBLICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT

Tattoos and fashion have come to be synonymous with self-expression, but there is more to it than that. Chantelle Sturgeon, a tattoo artist with nine years of experience in the industry, said that tattoos could also be considered fashionable due to their ability to improve or complement one’s appearance, attire, or accessories.

“I am covered in all my favourite things, and people can easily tell my interests and passions,” Sturgeon said. “The most common subject to get tattooed is designs that represent care for loved ones.”

Fanshawe student Kimberly Dhiab agreed that tattoos help represent their personality.

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“I have always loved my tattoos because they can say who I am, show my journey and manifest what I like without me saying a word. The decision-making of getting my first tattoo was not easy, I was nervous about how it would look, but I do not regret it at all.”

Sturgeon said getting a tattoo can be a significant commitment for some people. She added that a tattoo is a lasting remembrance of something, whether it be a cherished friendship, someone’s values, the loss of a loved one, the beginning of something or someone or just the journey someone has gone through.

Sturgeon stated that the tattoo industry has advanced significantly in the last ten to 20 years.

“Before, the only way for people to find tattoo designs was to enter a parlour and browse around. That has changed with social media,” Sturgeon said. “Every time people log onto social media, they get tattoo ideas.”

Sturgeon also added that the industry growth has brought several new artists. She said that with the wide range of artists nowadays, it is easier for people to find an artist with whom they feel comfortable.

Dhiab said that when she decided to get a tattoo, her parents, who are both Catholic, were not happy about it.

“They constantly told me the negative effects and consequences a tattoo had,” Dhiab said.

Sturgeon stated even though some older generations still see tattoos as taboo, their popularity is increasing among the youth.

“While younger generations see body art as a form of self-expression, older people often associate tattoos with criminals, sailors or counter-culture groups,” Sturgeon said.

She said tattoos can change people’s perceptions in many ways, as each person has their preconceived judgements. She added that the perception tattoos get among older generations is mainly negative.

“In the workplace, where older generations are still in management, this disliking can be seen. That is why many corporate regulations forbid visible tattoos,” Sturgeon said. “The widespread acceptance of tattoos among younger generations is raising their general acceptance in some workplaces now,” Sturgeon said.

Sturgeon said that tattoos are no longer regarded as taboo in the coming generations due to their normalization in movies, TV shows, celebrities, and on social media. She added that although it is common nowadays, people must remember that tattoos are permanent.

“As we go through our lives, our interests and opinions change, we grow. Something chosen years prior may not feel the same now,” Sturgeon said. “In case someone regrets some tattoo, cover-up tattoos and laser removal can aid those regretting.”

Sturgeon said proper research, consultation with the artist and visualization can help avoid making the wrong decisions regarding tattoos. She added that visualization could help to see how it would look on the skin and with different types of clothing.

“There are some people out there who are very conscious of how they dress to match up their tattoos,” Sturgeon said. “Tattoos can change the fit and cut of clothing people wear. For example, when I first had my entire chest tattooed, I cut the neckline out of all my shirts to make the tattoo more visible.”

Dhiab said that behind her tattoos is a trauma and a scar with a message that reminds her how far she has come in life. She added that it feels good to show with style what made her who she is.

“Ask anyone with a tattoo why they choose to have art indelible into their skin, and they will probably respond that it has something to do with their feelings and self-expression,” Sturgeon said. “It is really no wonder that tattoos and fashion are so greatly linked to one another. Both are displayed on the body, after all.”