Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular among students. While some students do it as an easy way to express themselves others admit they do it to be cool. As more students get tattooed, more people get laser removal.
“College students are experiencing all kinds of things. They’re old enough to smoke, drink, and get tattoos. So anything they can do they will do,” said Luis Flores.
Flores is one of the four owners of the Eleventh St. Electric Gallery tattoo shop in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Six out of 10 of Flores’ clients are college students, 18 to 25 years old, most of them women. On average, a person spends about $1000 in tattoos a year with Flores. The most common areas to be tattooed on a female are the lower back or the ribs which are also the most painful. The most common areas on a male are the ribs or the arms, which are also called the rocker spots. On average a regular tattoo takes a minimum of two hours.
Most people that have gotten a tattoo don’t just stop at one because once an individual has experienced a tattoo it is easier for the same individual to think of other ideas since the first tattoo is the hardest one.
“Get it [the tattoo], definitely do your research, look at portfolios, and don’t be fooled by the design. Make sure you ask questions,” Flores said.
With so many people entering the tattoo industry, it’s hard to tell what separates a good tattoo artist from the rest. Some key elements to know when choosing a good tattoo artist are the technique, technical knowledge and the inks being used by the tattoo artist.
“Not only are the good tattoo artists affected by the careless artists in the industry, they also face negative stereotypes. Generally speaking our society has frowned on tattoos and commonly associate it with drugs, violence, and foolishness,” said Flores.
Tattoos today are done with style and because of their hip popularity, are gradually becoming common.
Jennifer Diaz is a student at Salt Lake Community College who has a total of eight tattoos.
“I always thought tattoo work was beautiful when done by a good artist. Tattoos are a form of individualism that people aren’t born with and can choose later in life,” said Diaz.
Diaz is also a client of Flores.
“Some may regret their tattoos depending on certain job markets, but times are changing and tattoos will be widely accepted in the future years to come,” Diaz said.
As the popularity of tattoos grows, so is the popularity of laser removal.
Inna Prokopenko is a licensed master aesthetician and also a registered nurse at the Gateway Laser Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2009, the Gateway Laser Institute performed the Avea Laser Tattoo Removal on 1,151 patients with tattoos.
“If you’re going to get a tattoo get a black one, the ink is easier to come out of the skin,” said Prokopenko.
The Avea laser removes tattoos with small amount of scaring or no scaring at all. The light used by the laser breaks up the pigment of the tattoo without causing damage to the skin. The laser has a speed of ten pulses per second and is 10 to 15 times more painful than getting a tattoo. After the skin has undergone treatments, the human body’s immune system gets rid of the broken-up pigment of the ink.
“It’s a very long process because of the type of ink; some can take one to two years,” said Prokopenko.
One of the problems with the laser tattoo removal is that the tattoo does not always come out because of the ink color, especially multi-colored tattoos. No tattoo is completely removed within one treatment. Tattoo removal can be painful and a long process. After undergoing the laser, the ink in the skin gets so hot that it makes the skin blister in the shape of the tattoo being removed. It also takes several treatments to get rid of a tattoo.
Homemade tattoos are the easiest to work with and can take a minimum of two treatments. Other tattoos can take up to 11 treatments but it is not always possible to know the number of treatments needed to remove a tattoo. The most common tattoo Prokopenko removes are homemade tattoos and gang related tattoos.
Laser removal can not only be painful but expensive as well. For a three inch tattoo, treatments can start at $99. Depending on the location and design of the tattoo, a numbing solution will need to be applied to the area before treatment and is an additional expense.
“Laser removal is a touchy subject for tattoo artists, the beauty of a tattoo is that it is supposed to be permanent. It’s kind of nice to have the laser removal for people with bad tattoos. I would probably do it myself if I had any bad tattoos, but I don’t,” said Flores.