While tattoos have been gaining a widespread appeal and acceptance during the last couple of decades, they are still more popular with some people than with others. No longer seen as something which is limited to small segments of the population, nevertheless they are still not embraced by everybody. For many, they are great forms of self-expression; to others, they are as taboo as they've always been. Like most aspects of American life, it's often a matter of one likes them very much or one dislikes them intensely; there is rarely any middle ground. While preferences toward specific styles of tattoos differ very much between individual persons, the opinions on them rarely change.
One group which has grown fond of tattoos is the younger generation. This is so much true that these days most areas which have colleges and universities also have at least one tattoo studio nearby. For many in the younger crowd, visiting the tattoo studio is as much a social experience as it is about the artwork. Comparing notes about which designs they like, the costs, and even the tattooing process itself is often done with one or more friends. The popularity of tattoos amongst young people also extends to high schoolers, many of whom are not old enough to legally acquire a tattoo. Some get around this by dangerously attempting their own tattoos with homemade equipment; others go to nearby states where it is legal for artists to tattoo minors if they have their parent's presence and consent.
On the opposite end of the spectrum you will find members of the older generation who sometimes use tattoos to either recapture or attempt to hold onto their youth. It's questionable as to whether those in this category do so for the artwork itself, or more for the environment of the tattoo studio, as most studios are clearly designed for the younger generation. You can find quite a few older folks leafing through books of tattoo stencils alongside the younger crowd who are twenty or thirty years younger than themselves. This type of situation is at its oddest when the tattoo studio also doubles as a piercing parlor.
Certain groups also go for tattoos. While the practice used to be considered the arena of bikers and others of that element, they still hold quite a monopoly on the subject. It is unlikely that you will ever find someone whose primary concern in life is his motorcycle who does not hold to the age-old tradition of acquiring tattoos to symbolize his number-one passion. The person may have one tattoo or many; he may have done the artwork himself with a homemade machine or even plain needles, or he may have spent a considerable amount of money to have his tattoos done professionally; but whatever form the tattoos take, it is almost guaranteed that he will have them.
People who have spent time in jail or prison also have the common factor of tattoos. While these tattoos are almost always recognizable as being crude replicas of art, this fact is mostly due to the tattoos being done by such unsanitary means as using cigarette ashes instead of tattoo ink and whatever may be handy instead of sterile professional tattoo needles. For anyone who is at all familiar with tattoos, it is not difficult to recognize the difference between one which was done by a licensed tattoo artist and one which someone did on himself while incarcerated.
These days you can find tattoos on every segment of the American population, nearly everywhere in America. While young adults, convicts and bikers are usually most noticeable, tattoos show up or are hidden on everyone from businessmen to farmers to housewives. They have become a part of American life.
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