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COMMENT: The ink generation
Paintings done by Emma Jackson Tattoo, who will be attending the Perth Tattoo Convention.

Paintings done by Emma Jackson Tattoo, who will be attending the Perth Tattoo Convention.

Paintings done by Emma Jackson Tattoo, who will be attending the Perth Tattoo Convention.

Kristy Clark, ECU Reporter

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There is no doubt whatsoever that tattoos have become mainstream and socially acceptable.

I know this because even my dear mother has a massive dragon back piece. I have twelve myself and I got my first tattoo at the age of nineteen. It’s a blue and yellow fish and it looks ridiculous.

According to research done by McRindle, one in five Australians have one or more tattoos. Given this statistic, I think that,  in some social circles, it’s become non-conformist to NOT have a tattoo.

There has been a remarkable transition from tattoos being associated with criminals and service people to a world where one fifth of the population are wearing permanent art work.

Tattoos have been seeping into the mainstream for many years now, there are tattoo conventions hosted annually in Australia and even several tattoo reality TV shows that air regularly on free to air television.

With the loosening of tattoo taboos and the accessibility of tattoos increasing, people are opting to getting inked at an earlier age.

Australian laws dictate that people under the age of 18 can get inked, however, they must have permission from a parent who has supplied identification to the artist.

In 2016, the Perth Tattoo Convention boasted a crowd of over 10,000 patrons. This year’s convention will be run over three days and features several key Western Australian artists that have gained significant following and notoriety through the social media platform Instagram.

A spokesperson from the Perth Tattoo Convention spoke to ECU Daily about the event being billed as child-friendly.

“… the biggest aspect of our events is the tattooing itself, so while children are welcome, our artists will not tattoo anyone under the age of 18.”

“We always want to ensure our events have a positive, inclusive atmosphere.”

While places like the Perth Tattoo Convention have strict policies on tattooing underage people, there are alternative avenues for young people to get inked. Just like most other laws, young people have found ways to get around them.

Zac Sheldrick was 17 when he got his first tattoo in Bali, a rite of passage for many young Australians.

He believes that if you can drop out of school at the age of 15 and begin a full-time career, a tattoo is not much more of a bigger life commitment.

However, if his Mum wasn’t on board with the idea, he would not have gotten it at all.

Mark Cummings, an artist at West Coast Tattoo in Port Kennedy, believes the key is to be “responsible” with the decision process.

“If they want to give me the money to do their tattoo, that’s fine, as long as I’m not breaking the law.”

He believes that if the law prohibited underage people from getting tattoos done professionally, more would turn to back yard “scratchers” which can result in serious infections and permanent disfigurement of the skin.

However, he believes there are some issues that arise due to consent as only one parent signature is required, which can lead to further conflict.

Many disgruntled parents have turned to social media to blast the artists and tarnish the reputations of the tattoo studio they work for.

Similarly, Beryl McIver from n8tiv Ink Merriwa chooses to tattoo underage clients, based on the integrity of the client and the tattoo.

“Some circumstances are different, I have refused to do it (tattoo someone underage) because the parent didn’t want it and he wanted to get his neck done.

“I had one mother come in with her daughter, she wanted something for her Dad who passed recently. We did it on his anniversary and she wanted some ashes in the ink.”

Nicholas Hawgood got his first tattoo at the age of 17. “I don’t think they (tattoo artists) should tattoo under 18s, so much can change over those years (world views, family views, friendships, mental health) that it definitely isn’t the most stable time to permanently mark your body.”

Upon reflection, he added, “I wish I had waited, I was so caught up in how much I loved the design and idea of it that I rushed ahead way too fast.

“It caused a lot of strife with my parents for a while until they agreed, which I regret essentially guilting them down to.”

Prohibition on things such as drugs and alcohol is useless. People will always use whatever means available to get hold of them. Similarly, a law prohibiting young people getting tattooed would not stop them.

Having a regulated industry and allowing professionals to tattoo underage people is the best way to avoid kids buying tattoo guns online and getting them done by their drunk mates at a house party.

Lastly, you will probably regret your first tattoo. The most important part is getting it done by a reputable artist who will be precise with their application.

Allow them to give you their expert opinion and don’t get something stupid, like a blue and yellow fish.

You can find out more details about this weekend’s tattoo convention at the Perth Convention Centre here.

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COMMENT: The ink generation