You'd have to be living on a different planet not to notice that tattoos seem to be absolutely everywhere these days. When I was a teenager tattoo parlours were murky, forbidden places usually found down a side street in the dodgy part of town with all the kebab shops and adult bookstores, ut that's certainly a thing of the past; on my walk to work through Central London I literally pass three tattoo parlours and now even Selfridges have an in store parlour. It seems like these days people just pop into town to pick up a loaf of bread and get a spot of ink done.
Tattoos have a long and rich cultural history but it seems that in the last 5-10 years they have really hit the mainstream. With the likes of Justin Bieber and One Direction having tattoos all over their body tattoo really can't be considered a rebellious counter-culture any more.
I work in the modelling industry and we're an industry that relies heavily on trends. For the last few years tattoos have certainly been a big trend amongst fashion brands and models. You may remember the model who decided that the key to success was to tattoo his entire face with random words. But like all trends, the tattoo trend is starting to go away. If you want to get a tattoo to make some kind of statement whether it be personal, political or moral then that's absolutely great but seriously I would suggest thinking twice if all you want to do is make a fashion statement! I have to wonder what is going to happen to tattoo face man in 15 years when he's no longer a hot model just a middle aged man with stuff written all over him.
As an agent I try to steer clear of models with tattoos. Yes I've had models walk in with some absolutely amazing ink on their body but just because it looks great to you or me it doesn't mean that the client will like them. Tattoos on a model is one of the best things a model can do to hindering their career - as soon as I hear a model is planning to get a tattoo my first reaction is 'don't even think about it if you want to want to work again!' I've turned down some amazing model potential because they got some God awful Chinese inspired
It seems like at some point tattoos stopped being about are no longer about setting yourself apart from normal society they are in order to fit in with everyone else. Teenagers are going to be inspired by pop stars with tattoos and try to copy them as soon as they turn 18 (or even earlier if they can get away with it). When I was growing up a tattoo was always the sign of teenage rebellion but these days you see teenagers on Youtube with full sleeves and knuckle tattoos! Maybe I'm just getting old but I have to ask - what happens when these teenagers grow up and need a well paid job to support their wife and kids. Will a set of hardcore knuckle tats really help at the job interview?
The last thing I want to do is come across as boring or not being down with the kids but what I can say is that as an employee I don't like tattoos, as a model agent I absolutely hate them but as an individual I wish I had the guts to get one myself. All I would say is even though there's plenty of idiots who will tell you that hashtag YOLO is the reason to do stupid things, think about your future when you're young; it's much easier to quit being a goth or an emo kid than it is to get rid of an arm full of tattoos!