Julie’s Report

Courtesy of Medill Reports Chicago

Hello Tattoo


People of all ages and from all different backgrounds have been getting tattoos. On a nice day in just about any public place it does not take long to spot a tattoo. The types of tattoos vary from flash art (picked off a wall), custom tattoos such as portraits of family, even memorials. The backgrounds of the people sporting these tattoos also vary. It could be anyone from a business man with a memorial of a friend, to the teenage girl with the butterfly on her ankle. What is even more interesting is the number of people who now have extensive tattoo coverage. They come from all walks of life. It was not that long ago that tattoos were considered “low life,” “trashy”. Perception for most has changed. Tattoos have become more mainstream.

Why Get a Tattoo

Getting a tattoo can be influenced by many factors. Gang affiliation can be a contributing factor to getting a tattoo. A tattoo could be used to mark someone as a member, or to show a level of commitment to a gang. A tattoo could be a right of passage, used to signify a major event or change in a person’s life. In history you can see this with tribes. Tattoos were often used to show rank or position in a tribe. In the US we may not use tattoo’s to show a rank in our city, but a tattoo is usually an indication that you are an adult. To get a tattoo you must be 18 years old or have guardian consent. A tattoo is one way that you can decorate your body showing your personality. A tattoo to some could be a sign of independence and freedom.

Effects on a job

One of the biggest balancing acts about a tattoo in current society is the workplace. Although tattoos are becoming increasingly acceptable in society they are not commonly considered part of the standard business casual dress code. A work place may ask you to cover your tattoo while on the job. According to Sawyer, “Employers are permitted to do this as long as they do not discriminate based on an employee’s gender, race, skin color, ethnicity, religion, or age.” (page 32) Placement of a tattoo above the collar-bone or below the wrist is considered to be a “job stopper”. Tattoos that can not be covered can put a limitation on job opportunities. Having a job-stopper tattoo does not mean that you can not have a job. Your place of employment would just need to be more accepting of tattoos such as: a night club, coffee shop, hair salon, mechanic shop. The US Military also has regulations about tattoos that must be adhered to. Many of these regulations include no job stoppers. According to John Reardon, “It is prohibited in many states and certain countries to tattoo someone below the wrist or on the neck or face.” (page 23)

Risks of a Tattoo

There are many things to be considered when you are looking to get a tattoo such as; Shop cleanliness and allergic reactions. When deciding where you are going to get a tattoo done at trust your instincts. When you first walk into a shop— this is where you judge a book by the cover— it should be clean. Educate yourself about what kind of needles (disposable or re-sterilized), ink (is it in singe use bottles or do how do they keep it from being contaminated), and other precautions that they have in place to protect you and them. You can ask to see their sterilization process if you would like. Watching the staff if they wear protective gloves, and when they change them will be a good indication about their cleanliness. If they answer the phone gloved and return to the tattoo with these same gloves that is a pretty good indication that their sterilization and cleanliness is not a priority. This initial visit to the shop is also a great opportunity to look at the artists work also. When you get a tattoo you are letting a needle poke you hundreds of times. You create an open wound and your potential for infection is high. By getting a tattoo you are increasing your chance of contracting a blood-borne disease, skin infections, scarring, and keloid formation, and allergic reactions. Red ink is the most common ink color to have an allergic reaction.

The personal meaning of a tattoo can vary from person to person. Flash tattoos are becoming less and less popular. Most prefer to have a “custom built” tattoo, something made special for them. These tattoos have their own meaning to the creator. If you are looking for something special there are resources out there to get inspiration such as; a tattoo shop, magazines, and the internet. You can find inspiration for your own personal tattoo just about anywhere. According to Kelly, “If you really want a tattoo, get it. Ultimately, you’re the only one who’s going to have to deal with it as you wander through life. If it means something and you like it, go for it!”


 Kelly, Brett (2008). Reasons to Get a Tattoo (and Reasons Not To). Retrieved from http://blog.crankingwidgets.com/2008/05/05/get-a-tattoo/

Reardon, John. (2008). The Complete Idiots Guide to Getting a Tattoo. New York: Special Markets, Alpha Books.

Sawyer, Sarah. (2009). Frequently Asked Questions About Body Piercing and Tattooing. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.

Winkler, Kathleen. (2002). Tattooing and Body Piercing: Understanding The Risks. New Jersey: Enslow Publishers, Inc.

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  • Comments (5)
  1. I’m totally digging the headers they are doing a great job of breaking it up and accenting your topics.

    I was thinking as I was reading the information, about what are the age demographics for getting tatoos. And then possibly a graph for that info. Just a thought.


    • Lily
    • March 8th, 2011

    I like your background/layout! It goes well with your topic. The history lesson about tattoos and gangs and tribes was quite interesting. I like that you’re really informed about this, like knowing the risks and how to judge a tattoo shop for their sanitary priorities.
    On your “Why Get a Tattoo” section, I dislike that you put that getting a tattoo is an indication of being an adult. There are little 15 year olds running around and drinking to “be adult.” They’re doing drugs to “be adult.” Etc. It just comes off as if you were calling someone childish if they choose not to have/get a tattoo. But I do like the reason that getting a tattoo is a sign of freedom.
    I think your report would improve if you add more interesting facts, like about yellow/green ink (I heard that they’re a lot harder to remove than just black ink because of the concentration of the pigment or something.) You should also add information about tattoo makeup to hide the tattoo, just in case there’s a job that does not tolerate it. I also think that you should inform people that even though tattoos are cool, they shouldn’t take or make the decision so lightly, because it’s permanent (and gets saggy with people as they get all wrinkly and stuff.), unless you get it removied, which is most likely painful and expensive. Add different options (like getting a henna tattoo), in case they don’t want to feel so committed to the tattoo.

  2. I thought it was interesting, I liked the information on tribes getting tatoos, I would say that you should put in more stats and maybe even a graph. I really liked the headers so that you can choose what it is that you want to read.

    • Logan Hansen
    • March 15th, 2011

    The information here is very well organized and there a fluid to the tone in the report. whoever there are fallacies here and there on the page.

    a picture is or a graph is needed. since it is broken up into three different sections have one per image per section or two images that relate to the two most important subjects.

    there is lots of information here and it is stated nicely work on refining it.

  3. Great start! It comes across as very well informed and sounds like you know what you’re talking about. It also feels very professional, which is great. The “Risks on the Job” section is working particularly well since it gives us current information on what kinds of jobs prohibit what kinds of tattoos and what the policies are. The term “job stopper” was unfamiliar to me and you introduced it really well.

    The only catch is that some of this starts to feel like it belongs on your instructions page, especially the last section. What I’d suggest is just to move that part to your next page! Easy enough, and then you’ve got a good start for your next assignment. 🙂 On this page, you need a lot more information. We need to know more about what’s happening now. What’s the average age someone gets their first tattoo in the U.S.? What about the average age in other countries? Where do most people choose to get tattoos (back, shoulder, upper arm, ankle?)? How many people in the U.S. have tattoos? I like Lily’s idea about telling us differences about the different inks, etc. And definitely include some kind of graph or chart to help us see what tattooing looks like right now (whether age of first tattoo or percentage of people with one tattoo, two, three, four or more, etc). 🙂

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