How Tattoo Artists Could Help Reduce Skin Cancer

Tattoo artists may have a role to play in reducing cases of advanced skin cancer, researchers say.

That’s because tattoos can sometimes hide skin cancers, and make it harder for doctors to diagnose these cancers early, according to a new study.

The researchers found that tattoo artists typically don’t have a standard way of dealing with the moles that they may see on their clients, and contrary to what doctors would recommend, many will tattoo right over a mole if a client requests it.

Meanwhile, less than a third of the tattoo artists (29 percent) said they had recommended that a client see a dermatologist for a suspicious skin lesion.

“Our study highlights an opportunity for dermatologists to educate tattoo artists about skin cancer, particularly melanoma, to help reduce the incidence of skin cancers hidden in tattoos,” the researchers, from the University of Pittsburgh, wrote in the Jan. 18 issue of the journal JAMA Dermatology. Tattoo artists could also be taught how to recognize a suspicious skin lesion, and encourage their clients to see a dermatologist if they have such a lesion, the researchers said.

There have been several cases of people who had tattoos that concealed skin cancers, the researchers said.

In the new study, the researchers surveyed 42 tattoo artists during the summer of 2016, and asked them about their approach to dealing with moles and other skin lesions or conditions on their clients.

More than half (55 percent) of these tattoo artists said they had declined to tattoo skin with a rash, lesion or spot. When asked why they declined to tattoo skin in these cases, 50 percent said it was because they were concerned about the final appearance of the tattoo, while 29 percent said they were concerned about skin cancer. Another 19 percent said they were concerned about bleeding in their client’s mole.

When asked how they dealt with moles, about 40 percent said they tattooed around moles, but 43 percent said that they either tattooed over moles, or did what their clients asked them to do regarding the moles. About 70 percent said that their clients had never asked them to avoid tattooing over a mole or skin lesion.

“There has been a significant rise in melanoma incidence among young adults, some of the most frequent tattoo customers, making surveillance by tattoo artists especially important,” the researchers said.

Future studies could follow tattoo artists over time, and examine the effect of skin cancer education in this group, they said.

Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, and the first sign of the disease is often a change to an existing mole, such as in its size, shape or color, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Stop Asking People with Tattoos These Questions, You’re Probably Being Annoying

1. Did it hurt?

Any time somebody’s poking you repeatedly with a needle, it’s going to be really uncomfortable. A tattoo is essentially a puncture wound that is then filled with ink, and if you’ve ever lodged something into your skin that wasn’t there to begin with, it’s going to hurt a little. But some body parts are less painful, some people are more tolerant of pain, and after you go under the needle a few times, that buzzing sensation is less anxiety-inducing because you know what to expect. The tattoos I got on my ribs hurt like crazy, but the one I have on my inner arm was prickly at most. And it may itch and burn afterwards, but if you take care of it, it’s really fine.

2. Don’t you regret them?

For the most part? No. Chances are really good the person spent time thinking about the design they wanted, and whether it’s artwork, a quote, or even a tribal armband, it means something to them. Over time, tattoos also reach beyond their symbolism, and also commemorate moments in that person’s life and who they were at the time they got the tattoo. Who you were when you decided to get a tattoo with your brother, who you were when you had a quote inked onto your foot, who you were when you were 22 and confused and curious and scared—those are all valid aspects of your past, and those tattoos serve as reminders of your past. They ground you to who you are. Why would you regret who you were and who you are today?

(I admit that there is one tattoo I regret, but I got it when I was 16 and it’s in a rather inconspicuous location on my body. This is also why there are laws prohibiting teenagers from getting tattoos, but I deliberately went to a shady shop that didn’t ask for my ID, and this one’s on me. I take full responsibility for that poor life choice.)

3. Don’t you respect yourself?

Yes, I do. And yes, you should always respect yourself. Whenever anyone asks you this, it’s really safe to assume that they may not respect you. And you know what? Cool. They don’t have to respect you, which makes it easier for you to make a judgment call and not include that person in your life. If they can’t respect that you made such a decision over your own body, chances are really good that they won’t be able to overlook the other things on which you disagree as well. If you think your body is a temple and it’s disrespectful to get tattoos, then don’t get them, that’s fine. People with tattoos don’t think less of people who don’t have tattoos. But my body is a temple, too, and I will decorate it as I see fit; my design aesthetic just happens to involve tattoos.

4. How are you going to feel about them when you’re old?

Who’s to say how we’ll feel about everything when we’re old? Sometimes people switch political ideologies throughout their lives. Sometimes people change their mind about a certain food. It’s the same thing with tattoos. I don’t know how I’ll feel about them when I’m old because I’m not old yet. And it’s very possible that I could regret them, and it’s very possible that the ink might not age all that well and I’ll get wrinkles and things will sag and I end up needing surgery over and the doctor will botch the tattoo, and, and, and. But much in the same vein of whether or not I regret my tattoos, I would like to think that I’m not going to regret who I was at 24 when I begin to reminisce as an old, wrinkled, and yes, tattooed woman.

5. Does that mean you only date other people with tattoos?

Often, people with tattoos are no more or less attracted to another person solely because they have one. Some people have a thing for people with tattoos the way other people have a thing for blondes or brunettes or short people or tall people, but a person’s personality, sense of humor, and heart should trump everything else. It’s shouldn’t be a deal breaker if somebody else doesn’t have tattoos. And chances are, if two people who have tattoos are dating, it’s coincidence—tattoos are growing increasingly common in our society, after all—and only one of the likes and dislikes they share. (If it’s all they have in common, there’s a major problem.)

6. But what does it mean?

Are you ready for a long story? Are you ready for something really deep and meaningful and introspective? Because if you ask somebody about this, you have to genuinely be interested in what that person takes to heart. You have to be open to the idea that something could have spoken to them in a way that has completely changed their life, even if it leaves you entirely unfazed. And just as you might feel guilted into having to react appropriately when somebody shows you what they believe to be the funniest video clip of. all. time, nodding your head politely and saying, “Hmm, that’s interesting,” when they tell you about a memory they have of their dad or their favorite poem is like slapping that person in the heart. They just shared a deeply personal part of themselves with you. Treat that knowledge with care and respect.

7. How much did you pay for that?

This question is all about the delivery. If there’s even a hint of the derisive “… when you could have spent your money on something else?” hanging at the end of that inquiry, it won’t matter to you how much or how little somebody spent on a piece and now you’re just being a little nosy. A tattoo is an investment, though, and it’s smart to actually spend decent money on something that is going to hopefully last your whole lifetime. If you really think you can haggle with your tattoo artist for a cheaper piece, chances are good you’re going to end up with a tattoo that looks cheaper. If you’re really dedicated to the concept of the piece, you’ll pony up the money for it. If you’re really hesitant to spend the money, then chances are good you may not even want the tattoo itself.

8. What do your parents think about them?

Here’s the thing about this question: this suggests that all parents will have the exact same reaction about everything their children do. My mom hates them, personally, and my dad is a pro at that mild headshake that speaks volumes of what he thinks about them, but not every parent is like that. Some parents even have tattoos themselves—we’re not the first generation to get a little ink crazy. And I am fully grateful to my parents for creating my body, carrying it around, clothing it, feeding it, and protecting it until I was shoved out of the nest and into college, but my parents also taught me that my body is my body, and I can do what I want with it as long as I respect myself in the process. I wasn’t all that worried about what my parents would think when I got my tattoos, because their bodies weren’t going under the needle. Mine was.

9. Would you ever get them removed?

Maybe years from now, but A, it’s expensive; B, it takes time for each procedure; and C, the results are often questionable at best. It’s very possible that surgery will progress to a point where tattoo removal is a lot more accessible to those who regret their tattoos, but I also went into getting my tattoo with the full knowledge that each one was a very permanent, very final decision. And unless you see brochures from a dermatologist’s office lying around my apartment, chances are very good it’s not on my radar.

FBI Wants Computers To Scan Your Tattoos To Learn All About You

Law enforcement has long used tattoos as a way to identify people (“The suspect has the name ‘Marge’ on his forearm”), or as an indicator of group membership (“All members of the gang had the same exact tattoo on their forearms”), but the FBI’s in-development tattoo recognition program seeks to create an algorithm to make instant inferences about a person’s behavior based on their tattoos.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that for the better part of the past two years, the FBI has been working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create tattoo recognition systems that police can use to learn as much as possible about people through their tattoos.

The Tattoo Recognition Technology features a database of nearly 15,000 tattoo images intended to map connections between people with similarly themed tattoos or make inferences about people from their tattoos.

For example, the NIST believes the ink can “suggest affiliation to gangs, subcultures, religious or ritualistic beliefs, or political ideology” along with “contain[ing] intelligence; messages, meaning and motivation.”

While NIST and the FBI plan to expand the current database to about 100,000 tattoo images, EFF is calling on the organizations to suspend the projects over privacy concerns.

As it stands, EFF suggests that NIST’s database is made up of images of tattoos that belong to arrestees and inmates.

Additionally, those images — which include personally identifying information, such as people’s names, faces, and birth dates — were then provided to third parties that have little restriction on how they can use the photos.

The 19 organizations — five research institutions, six universities, and eight private companies — that obtained the images performed a series of tests on the data that included identifying whether an image contained a tattoo and whether algorithms could match different images of the same tattoo taken over time.

EFF also claims that NIST is breaking its own rules by providing the images to third parties, as many of the tattoos include personally identifiable information such as a person’s religion, data of birth, or activities.

“Several of the images contained text spelling the names of family members,” the report states. “In at least two cases, these included the full names of the family members. In another tattoo, a 14-year-old child’s name was listed along with her date of birth.”

The Foundation also claims that NIST researches failed to follow protocol for ethical research of humans.

In one case the group found that researchers only sought permission from supervisors after the first set of experiments were completed.

“These same researchers have also not disclosed to their supervisors that the tattoo datasets they are using to seed the experiments came from prisoners and arrestees,” EFF’s investigation found. “Under federal research guidelines, research involving prisoners triggers enhanced scrutiny and ethical oversight to prevent their exploitation. Instead, NIST and the FBI are treating inmates as an endless supply of free data.”

In light of these potential privacy violations, EFF called on NIST and the FBI to take steps to remediate damage caused by the experiments, and suspend the program’s planned expansion.

Why We’re Obsessed With Tattoos, According to a Tattoo Artist

Everyone seems obsessed with tattoos these days. In fact, nearly half of millennials have them, according to a 2010 Pew Research study. What once was associated with biker gangs or punks and considered unacceptable in the workplace has now become a worldwide trend—and tattoo artist and reality TV star Megan Massacre has been a major part of this phenomenon.

An artist all her life, Massacre took up tattooing during college and has since been featured on TLC’s NY Ink and America’s Worst Tattoos. She’s since continued working at Love Hate Social Club in New York’s Lower East Side, where NY Ink took place. She’s also one of the tattoo artists showcasing her work on Tattoodo, a site co-founded by Miami Ink’s Ami James for people to read about tattoos, browse designs, and hold contests for artists to design tattoos based on users’ descriptions. Tattoodo recently launched an app that’s basically Instagram for tattoos, letting people post and search for the designs and artists they like.

While she was filming a new tattoo-related reality show in Australia, we chatted with Massacre about what’s behind the current tattoo craze, and how she became a part of it.

What was it about tattoos that first drew you in?
Massacre: The first time I actually thought about tattooing, I was in high school. A classmate came to school with a tattoo, and everybody thought it was so cool. I also thought it was so cool, but being an artist, I was like, “I could do a better job.” I was very interested in art from a young age and wanted to learn every kind of art there was. That was the first time I saw tattooing as an art form, because at that time, most people didn’t think of it that way.

Why wasn’t it recognized as an art form then?
We didn’t really think about it because of the stigma surrounding tattooing. A lot of the types of people that you saw getting tattoos were involved in gangs. There was a lot of negativity surrounding it. People thought criminals got tattooed, so I think a lot of artists shied away from it and never really looked at it from that perspective. In the past decade, you’ve seen a huge shift in tattooing to an actual art form that many artists have become interested in.

How did that shift occur?
When I first started tattooing a couple years before Miami Ink came out, it was very stigmatic still. I had a bunch of tattoos, and when I went outside, when I went grocery shopping, people would look at me weird. They wouldn’t want to walk through doors that I held. I would have people coming up to me that I didn’t know, being like, “You’re going to regret this.” Then, a couple years later, the show Miami Ink came out, and all of a sudden, people started looking at it differently and realizing we’re just normal people like everybody else. It made it sexy. It made people who weren’t interested in tattoos actually think about getting one. Also, obviously, musicians and sports players made tattoos very cool.

It also seems like online communities like Tattoodo have played a big role in popularizing tattoos. How have you used them?
Personally, as an artist, I love Instagram and all different kinds of social media. I follow tons of tattoo artists, but it’s actually hard to keep up with all the artists. If I’m looking for something in particular from a particular artist, the Tattoodo app is really nice and consolidated, and it’s constantly updating. There’s also a cool new feature where you upload a photo with information about the tattoo, you put what body part it is, and then you hashtag the style so that it’s really searchable. If I have a studio in New York and I’m looking for a black and gray artist, I can look up the hashtag #BlackAndGrayTattoo and find all the black and gray artists that are out there. I’m always traveling and working and doing all kinds of stuff, and I want to be able to access the information very easily. It helps me keep up with my own industry.

How did you first get involved with Tattoodo?
I first heard about it a couple years ago when one of the artists told me about it. It’s a community dedicated to tattooing from an artistic standpoint, whether you’re one of the artists or a tattoo collector who appreciates tattoos. A lot of it is blog-related, exploring all the different facets of the tattoo industry and new technology in the tattoo industry, talking about tattoo trends. It’s really interesting to see all of this stuff that’s relatable to the artist and the collector in one spot.

The contests for customized tattoos seem like a really cool idea.
The contests are really cool because there are so many people who want to get tattoos by some artists and it’s also pretty expensive, but the contests give people the chance to get tattoos who haven’t had a chance before. Maybe they live in a completely different country, but the contest allows you to get flown to wherever the artist is.

What is it about tattoos that makes them important to enough people to form all these communities?
It’s a way of expressing the things that you love most in life. People express themselves through color and clothing, and tattooing is just another way to customize yourself. You’re born a certain way, but as you grow older, you kind of fall into the skin that you feel comfortable in. You get to change yourself.

Do any of the tattoos you’ve created stick out as the most meaningful?
The best stories are the kinds where tragedy is overcome. They other day, I tattooed a woman who is a cancer survivor. When she got the news, it was terrible not only for her own health and safety but for the well-being of her kids. People like her wear tattoos like badges of honor. She got initials for her kids.

What advice would you give someone considering a tattoo?
There are some people who put a lot of thought into it and some people who are just on a whim like, “I’m going to a tattoo shop.” That’s cool and all, but think about it, because it’s obviously very permanent. Then, even if your tattoo gets old and doesn’t look as good as it used to, you’re still going to love it because you’re going to love what it stands for.

Whole Foods’ New 365 Stores Might Include Tattoo Parlors Because Millennials

Everyone knows how annoying it is when all you want is a bunch of carrots, some celery, crusty bread, and body art that will never come off your skin without an expensive, painful removal process, and you just can’t find a one-stop shop for it all. Here comes Whole Foods with its new “365 by Whole Foods Market” stores, which may include in-house tattoo parlors, because that makes complete and total sense.

In what may be something the company dreamed up during a particularly vivid fever dream induced by overexposure to the word “millennial” in marketing meetings, Whole Foods says it’s considering plunking tattoo parlors in its new, lower-priced 365 stores, among other things.

The company is letting it be known that it’s ready to start something meaningful, announcing on the 365 brand’s site that it’s looking for partners to help its new venture be something a bit different than your average grocery store, “to help enhance the 365 experience.”

No partners have been confirmed yet, but it could be anything from the aforementioned tattoo parlor to other services, as well as food vendors, lifestyle brands, and record shops.

“There’s a number of smaller-store competitors out there that are doing a nice job,” Co-Chief Executive Officer Walter Robb said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “We don’t see any reason why we can’t go participate in that part of the market as well with our 365 by Whole Foods offer — it’s going to be unique.”

The new stores will cater to a younger generation of shoppers who want to buy organic food but don’t want to spend their whole paycheck in the process.

You’ve got time to decide which pithy, yet heartfelt quote you want on the inside of your wrist yet: the first 365 store opens in May in L.A., with a plan for 10 stores total by October 2017.

Should You Hide Your Tattoos When You Interview For a Job?

I got my first tattoo a few days after my 18th birthday, a small purple star on my lowest rib. And for my 20th birthday, all my friends pitched in $5 or $10 each and handed me the pile of cash that I needed for a frog tattoo on my shoulder. It’s still — by far — the best gift I have ever received. And though my tree frog tat has faded a bit over the ensuing 18 years, it still makes me happy every time I look at it.

Obviously, I’m pro-tattoo — which considering my age and gender, makes sense. More women have tattoos than men, and the younger you are, the more likely you are to be comfortable with tattoos in general, which have at least a 5,000-year-old history and maybe even longer. They were traditionally associated with spiritual or religious devotion. Even today, many tattoos have special significance to the wearer — both of mine absolutely do — and as tattooing has generally become safer, more people have memorialized, marked, celebrated or recognized important aspects of their lives on their skin.

That translates to skin art at work, too. And while tattoos used to be seen as something to cover or hide, especially during a job interview, now you might work at a place where tattoos are totally acceptable. But how do you know before an interview?

First, the company might have a code of conduct, so you can always do some research to find it (or ask a hiring manager before your interview). If that information doesn’t yield useful information, you might be able to make an educated guess based on several factors, like who is hiring you, what type of business it is, and even where the company is located.

According to the infographic below, which compiled research from a number of sources, while 63 percent of people older than age 60 think tattoos are inappropriate in the workplace, only 22 percent of those 18-25 do — so a company that is youth-oriented is probably more cool with tats. (See the list of tattoo-friendly companies like Lush Cosmetics, Whole Foods, Google and Best Buy.) It also depends what part of America you’re in: As you can see in the graphic, 55 percent of people in the Southwest, including Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas, think tats are inappropriate on the job, but only 36 percent of people in New England do.

Outside variations in age and location that might affect someone’s opinion of tattoos, but there’s also the question of the kind of work you do. Only 8 percent of people in government have tattoos (the lowest rate found here), but a whopping 36 percent of people in the military do, which is interesting, if you consider that it’s people in government who direct what those in the military do. The next highest rate is for those in agriculture and ranching, at 22 percent, and right in the middle at 16 percent is media, arts, and entertainment, my own field of work.

My favorite stat is that only 14 percent of people regret their tattoos later in life. However you feel about tattoos for yourself or others, in the workplace or outside it, more people than ever have them and are getting them. And considering they’re permanent, they’ll be around for the rest of all of our lives — on people from all walks of life. Ultimately, I wouldn’t let a certain job dissuade me from getting a tattoo — though my field of work might influence where I place it, and how easy it is to cover up. Then you’re able to have the best of both worlds, having a tattoo that you love, but choosing who gets to see it, and when.

This Largo Dad Let His 4-Year-Old Daughter Give Him a Tattoo

A tattoo artist from Largo, Florida has come under fire after posting a photo of his 4-year-old giving him some ink.

Brad Bellomo, who owns his own shop in Florida, would often bring his daughter Chloe to work with him. But, for the past six months she has been wanting to give her dad a tattoo. So, he decided to let her do it.

“Some of my friends have 6-year-olds who I would not let near a tattoo machine, but my daughter has been exposed to this for a long time so she understands what it is. She knows it’s a needle, she’s seen me tattoo. It’s not a bloody process; I have a clean, light hand so it has never scared her,” said Bellomo to Yahoo! Parenting.

Bellomo had his daughter practice drawing and holding the tattoo gun in preparation for the new tattoo. They decided she would ink a strawberry, an image that came from the nickname “Berry Wu” that he had given her as a baby.

Bellomo controlled the foot pedal as his daughter drew the fruit on his arm. The result is a jagged strawberry that actually isn’t that bad.

Many people have criticized the dad for letting his young child give him the tattoo, but he said he is proud of his daughter’s work.

He also said that he plans on adding a Wu-Tang Clan “W” to the piece.

Researchers Say People With Tattoos Are More Aggressive Than Everyone Else

There was once a time when tattoos were strictly associated with dangerous subcultures that loved experiencing pain as much as they loved inflicting it; however, in recent years, it’s become increasingly common to see ink on everyone from politicians to educators to even soccer moms—making the sight of tattoos much less intimidating and threatening. But you might want to continue to take caution when you’re around those with an affinity for body art.

According to an article by the Daily Mail, a new report has concluded people with tattoos are much more rebellious and aggressive than those without.

The study, conducted by Professor Viren Swami of Anglia Ruskin University, surveyed 181 women and 197 men between the ages of 20 and 58. Of the 378 adults, 97 had at least one tattoo. It’s important to note that there was also “no significant difference” in social and education backgrounds among the participants, who were asked a series of questions to measure their rebelliousness.

One of the questions in the study was, “If you are asked particularly not to do something, do you feel an urge to do it?”

Those who demonstrated “proactive rebelliousness” responded positively to the question, while those with “reactive rebelliousness” would get angry and argumentative.

“We found that tattooed adults had significantly higher reactive rebelliousness, but not proactive rebelliousness, compared with non-tattooed adults,” Swamitold the Daily Mail. “One explanation is that people who have higher reactive rebelliousness may respond to disappointing and frustrating events by getting tattooed.”

She goes on to explain that those who demonstrated reactive rebelliousness are likely to deal with a negative event in a defiant way: “The act of tattooing is perceived as rebellious, or more generally tattoos themselves can signify defiance or dissent,” she said. “We also found that tattooed adults had higher aggression scores on two of the four dimensions of aggression that we measured, namely verbal aggression and anger.”

But, and this is a big “but,” the report found that people with tattoos were no more likely to respond with physical aggression than their ink-free counterparts—meaning you may get some defiant attitude from those with tattoos, but they generally have enough sense to avoid physically hurting you.

Ink-stagram: How Instagram Has Made Tattoo Art the New Street Style

What comes to mind when you think of tattoos? For me, it’s a sub-street-level tattoo parlor; neon lights buzzing and a feeling of comfortable uncleanliness. Dust, grime and cluttered collectibles adorn artists work spaces that remain simultaneously sterile… almost doctoral, with the kind of pristine attention to detail that adjoins a decision of permanent ink.

But in the age of Instagram, the tattoo industry is undergoing a revolution. No longer fringe fashion, #tattoos have become the plaything of celebrities, and body art influencers alike. The art from that was once confined to the backroom of a brick and mortar has become a trending topic some 25 million posts strong.

Many current tattoo artists grew up during a time when alternative forms of media, albeit relatively underground, first began to explore and propagate body artwork. “Being someone who grew up making art in an era of riot grrrl zines, it makes sense to engage in a medium that reaches further than the walls of the gallery or local tattoo studio,” says Emily North, a Brooklyn tattoo artist, curator, and social activist with over 10.5k Instagram followers.
Arguably, Instagram has become the modern day digital “zine.” With its simple platform, broad reach, and focus on relevant news, culture, and art, the simple photo app has surpassed its origin as a form of photographic braggadocio. For tattoo artists, this means that their work isn’t confined to the walls of their parlor, the skin of their customers, or the affectionate attention of a local community. Instead, tattoo artists (and their parlors) have parlayed their preexisting relationships with the art community into social media followings that grow as Instagram users become more acclimated and interested in the body art industry. From the US to the UK, Brazil to the Pacific Islands, tattoo artists and their unique works of art are celebrated and shared across time zones and cultural boundaries

“Instagram has become the primary platform to promote myself and spread awareness of my work and a window into my lifestyle,” says Luke Wessman, world famous tattoo artist, designer, and influencer. “For artists, Instagram currently is the most visible way to promote work both locally and globally and, in my opinion, has unmatched reach.” And as a result of its reach, the platform “has helped more people in remote places become tattoo fans, encouraged young people to seek out apprenticeships, and has built trends in the style of tattoo work that is popular,” says North.

But alongside the growing popularity of tattoos on social platforms, there’s a growing sentiment that the art is losing some of its unique, underground and edgy ethos. “More purist tattoo artists aren’t happy that body art has blown up,” North explains, “but I think it’s a great thing. Because tattooing is being shared outside the shop, it’s becoming accessible and familiar to a larger clientele.”

The propagation of body art by social media profiles hasn’t only increased awareness and interest, but also demonstrated the diversity of styles and abilities within the realm. Body art and tattoo artists and models not only can promote themselves and their own work, but also witness and learn from others’ profiles.

At the same time, the exposure and accessibility of body art work on a global scale presents unique challenges to both up and coming artists as well as those already established.”There are people pushing the envelope,” says Wessman, “the right tattoo posted at the right time by the right person could totally go viral…” He continues, “Having exposure to so many artists and art forms it’s hard not to be influenced; but in a way, with so much diversity at our fingertips, it’s becoming more and more difficult to have an original point of view and pressure as an artist is higher now then ever.”

But for artists whose work catches the eye of high-profile celebrities and models, that pressure can lead to professional relationships that helps them grow their personal brand. Wessman, who has worked with numerous celebrities including Jhene Aiko, Dave Navarro, Matt Dillon, and Stalley agrees. “

Working with a celebrity always impacts exposure. Our generation is so fame driven and hungry, when people see you work on or hang with “famous people”, it excites, for sure.” He continues, “I’ve known unknown and unskilled artists out there that after tattooing one celebrity, they become overnight sensations. Though, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that my relationships with some influential people have helped me incrementally grow my brand.”

For Carlos Costa, a UK based model whose stylized beard and tattoo look has attracted over 130k followers on Instagram, social media has not only helped inform his own personal body art choices, but also allowed him to share his favorite artists and tattoo shops with his followers.“I know artists will gain a lot of followers when I share pictures of their work, and it works both ways. It’s normal isn’t it, you go to someone who’s a good artist, you like to get their art and there’s a mutual idea of “Yeah lets share the word.”

Costa not only refers his followers to specific artists depending on their taste, but he’s used Instagram to inspire his own tattoos. “I found the guys Volko and Simone from Buena Vista Club in Germany through social media. They do trash polka and realistic trash polka, which is what I’ve got on my right arm,” he said.

Costa isn’t the only one who is being inspired. Young people across the world are being exposed to body art with every swipe, making a once niche form of expressionist art mainstream. Perhaps its newfound popularity will take away from the occultist ethos of the body art industry. But one thing is clear: Digital innovation has spurred a changing tide, a tide where freedom of expression and the deconstruction of body-image expectations are the rule rather than the exception.

The Scientific Reasons You Should Definitely Date Someone With Tattoos

Tattoos have long been associated with the rebellious and the reckless, the irresponsible and the unprofessional. But today, tattoos aren’t the bold symbol or social statement they were a few decades ago. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 4 in 10 millennials have a tattoo. Of those who do, about 50% have two or more.

Tattoos are officially the new normal. That might be because getting inked does not signify living an unconventional lifestyle or having fringe values. In fact, tattoos indicate many wonderful qualities about a person, particularly in the context of relationships.

Here are some reasons, according to science, that people with tattoos may actually be the greatest to date.

1. Since tattoos are so visible to the outside world (especially in the summer), they serve as compelling conversation starters. In fact, a 2013 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior that placed non-inked and tattooed women on a beach found that men were much more likely to approach women sporting tattoos. In the study, it took the men an average of 11 minutes less to approach the inked women. The study also concluded, “Men estimated to have more chances to have a date and to have sex on the first date with tattooed” participants.

Not only do people make assumptions that those with tattoos might be more willing to talk to a stranger, but tattoos are a conversation piece for that opening line — “Where’d you get that?” or “Nice tattoo. What’s it mean?”

“If a girl is attracted to me, it’s definitely a great topic,” Mark Fuentes, a Massachusetts-based tattoo artist.

2. While getting tattoos isn’t necessarily compulsive or irresponsible, studies have shown that people who get inked are more prone to risk-taking. While some risky behaviors are less desirable than others, an adventurous person can bring all sorts of benefits to a relationship.

“I have nine tattoos so far and I have dated two women with tattoos. I do find women, and a handful of men, with tattoos attractive. There’s something kind of cool and wild about them that I guess I don’t see in myself,” explains Ryan, 26, to Mic.

And that “wildness” and openness to new experiences means they’re more likely to find unexpected opportunities in relationships.

3. “I think it shows a certain bravery, and overall badassness,” Fuentes says of when he first sees somebody with a tattoo. Indeed, a tattoo might mark someone as brave and confident. And confidence pays off in relationships — a person with more confidence feels less insecure and more trusting.

A 2011 study discovered that tattooed men and women reported high self-esteem, low appearance anxiety and high body appreciation in three weeks after getting their tattoos.

As Fuentes put it to Mic, “Do tattoos have the power to effect the perception of every single person you meet or even just sees you? Yeah.”

A small survey conducted by therapist John D. Moore found that 85% of the women surveyed viewed men with tattoos as more fun, and 68% associated them with confidence. In fact, OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder analyzed what makes people appear attractive on the dating site and found that women garner interest by playing up what makes them unique. Tattooed women “show off what makes them different, and who cares if some people don’t like it. And they get lots of attention from men,” he concludes.

This level of confidence and self-awareness might translate to a more liberal attitude towards sex. A 2012 study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that people with tattoos usually have their first sexual encounter at an earlier age and had sex more frequently than their non-tatted counterparts. While the study confirmed that tattoos weren’t associated with risky sexual behaviors, the study suggests tattooed people are open sexually and might sooner act on those desires.

4. Tattoos inevitably send all sorts of messages out to the world. Whereas historically tattoos were used to mark ourselves as part of a tribe or community, their messages are now more personal. Professor Nicholas Thomas, Director of the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University, told CNN that “body art is becoming the opposite of conformity, a sort of badge of travel, or internationalism. People visit places and make them parts of themselves, so that they will forever bear marks of their unique visit.”

He added, “Our identities are far more particular, linked to our interests, affinities to cultural or spiritual traditions, tastes in music, and subcultural allegiances. The tattoo has become a vehicle for that sort of particular identification.”

Using a visible mode of expression contributes to the perception of tattooed people as being more open and unguarded. For some, a tattoo can indicate a generosity of spirit. “A tattoo allows me to permanently express myself and hold a moment forever. My tattoos are a bouquet of memories that I’ve shared with people I love, people I used to love, and most importantly, memories with myself,” said Kristin Collins Jackson on Bustle.

Ryan sees tattooed people as ready to share more stories and share their own “cultural beliefs.” And science has shown that self-disclosure and free expression are the cornerstones of intimacy.

Since tattoos are almost always symbolic of something else, they can also indicate depth. “Personally, I always have a sense of ‘there’s more to this person than I think’ when I see a tattoo. Tattoos are commitments. In a way, it’s a commitment to standing for something for the rest of your life,” explains Susan, 26, who tends to date tattooed guys.

And who isn’t looking for more signs of commitment when dating?