The Tattoo Revolution

Tattoos are still under attack from the public even though there an estimated 20 million tats in Britain. Mandy Townsend believes it's time to rebel against this age old prejudice

Tattoos are still under attack from the public even though there an estimated 20 million tats in Britain. Mandy Townsend believes it's time to rebel against this age old prejudice.

One trend that will scar you forever is the tattoo. An ever-lasting statement permanently etched on to your body either as your own personal treasure or as an elaborate show of self-expression. Although these designs can be as sophisticated and as elegant as the Mona Lisa, there still seems to be a judgemental veil cast over these illustrated individuals.

Countless hashtags and Instagram posts may make it seem as though tattoos are now a universally cherished art with a myriad of magazines dedicated to exactly that, many people are still offended over the sight of a finely decorated sleeve. Although a tension exists against the inked up world, it is unclear who has this tattoo-phobia.

Luke Coleman, 28, Tattoo artist says, "The typical clientele for a tattooist can in no way be pigeon holed! We see everyone from policemen to politicians, soldiers to surgeons! Those that are in more professional roles tend to keep it covered although due to the fact they have a good income tend to have much larger, more detailed work. So it is nigh on impossible to generalise on the 'type' of client. I have tattooed an 88 year old lady once! Her first ever tattoo!"

It is near impossible to resist the temptation of getting an intricate design to make our canvas carcases a little more interesting than before. Some plan to visit a parlour as part of their bucket list, some to cover a less than desirable part of the body or indulge in the desire to improve on our look. Even cosmetic tattoos are used to make sure that your eyeliner will never smudge into your pillow again.

I am an addict with 10 tattoos etched into my body but in such a way that nobody would notice unless I was to strip right down to my superman pants. I have them all tucked away like dirty little secrets because I have felt the terror of not being able to get a job with visible tats. As I debate whether to play safe or get my hand scattered with skulls and crosses, I feel there may be an ink-aholic revolution in sight.

Luke says, "At the moment people seem to be going for much larger pieces, full sleeves or backs instead of the smaller designs possibly in some way due to a much larger amount of celebrities having big ink and also much more visible ink. Hands and necks are becoming a much more common sight. 10 years ago a neck tattoo would've raised eyebrows everywhere whereas now it's the norm and seen everywhere."

Tattoos are becoming more popular by the needle in Britain with a fifth of all over 18 year olds proudly sporting their own tattoo. Recently Cheryl Cole adorned her lower back for a large rose design while bloggers preened over Cara Delevigne's lion finger. Tattoo trendsetter Rihanna is dedicated to the gun and has influenced many people with her 19 designs and beyond. Even in 1996 Barbie got her first tattoo and yet this look is still christened "thuggish" and untidy which has allowed many a sleeve to be turned away from upmarket nightclubs.

Bushwackers nightclub in Swindon said of their tattoo ban, "Our policy is to look smart and to maintain that we ask that there are no visible tattoos."

Many companys and establishments like HMV through to the London Metropolitan Police have a strict no tattoo policy in place for their employees. But should having tattoos really effect a person's ability to work in a professional manor or deemed informal?

Sharna Midwinter, 23, Hairdresser says, "It's good to look different and make a statement. I don't think some of my client's like tattoos but they still have their hair done by me. I have had a client then get a tattoo done for her 60th birthday, so I don't think having tattoos really does cause problems at work."

Even 16% of adults between the ages of 30 and 44 have had two in their life proving that age doesn't matter amongst the tattooed world.

The 'thug' title was devised in the 40s when hells angels made tattoos popular with devils, dogs and women's heads through to the 50s where the iconic film, Night Of The Hunter started the trend of having LOVE and HATE tattooed on the knuckles. Punks began to get roses and skulls in the 80s which also brought along the infamous tribal. The 90s brought in the Chinese symbol that has lasted as a trend today while David Beckham caused a stir with a sleeve. 2010 saw the fashion world take on tattoos with non-permanent designs of Chanel's symbol being printed on their catwalk models.

Tattooing has come a long way so there seems to be no reason why there are still negative opinions being heard. Even David Cameron's wife has a tattoo but we don't assume her to ride a Harley with a band of burley brothers.

Luke says, "Having my hands and neck done is hard to hide and many people (mainly elderly) look in disgust. Some have even crossed the road because of the connotations to criminals. It's no longer a sign of rebelling but now of showing your artistic or creative side."

"I have swastikas tattooed on myself (not for racist reasons but for the true reason, it is a Buddhist symbol of peace and good luck) but many do look at me a bit quizzically and judge, but that is because they don't understand the reasons behind it or they don't know me. Sometimes people judge or discriminate, but that goes with the territory of being heavily tattooed. None gets a tattoo without knowing the potential risk that some may not agree but the numbers of people that do disagree is shrinking rapidly!"

So now may be the time to go and get that sleeve or neck piece you've always dreamed of having or a non-permanent one for kicks. I certainly am going to brave a skull and crosses on my hands with one on my middle finger in rebellion against all the tattoo-phobics.