Guest Post on Wicked Whimsy: Tattoo Fashion

The lovely and creative Michelle over at Wicked Whimsy has spent the past week moving, which means loads of work and little, if any internet access, (the horror!).  She is both an Austinite and fellow tattoo enthusiast, and I can not wait to see pictures of her steampunk inspired living room, (Victorian styled fashions and antiquated machinery grind my gears in a good way - sorry, terrible pun).    

Moving along, I was honored when she let me write a guest post for her blog, so here is the piece I wrote for her and her readers:

Inspired by Michelle's post on tattoo etiquette that first led me to discover her blog, (which was double exciting by realizing she's a fellow Austinite), I wanted to continue the tattoo theme in writing about the growth of tattoo visibility in all spheres of the world, including the highly fickle world of fashion.

above: Kat Von D, Megan Fox, Gala Darling

Tattooing has a long history of either being a social pariah, (if you ask Leviticus and a few others, including my grandmother), or a social standard, (look at certain tribal groups, pre-Christian Europeans, punks, etc).  Tattoos have rarely solicited neutral reactions, and in the past they were delegated solely for men, and usually burly ones at that.  With shows like Miami Ink and LA Ink gaining massive followings, tattoos have slowly and shyly been stepping out from the whale's tales and coat sleeves they've been hiding behind.  While people with tattoos seem to often attract other people with tattoos, creating cloisters of tattoo sub-cultures where the non-inked are not permitted, the growing idea of tattoos-as-fashion is breaking down the barriers built by the tattoo needle.

It wasn't that long ago, (or was it?  Maybe I'm growing old), that boys in my high school walked around sporting their tribal tattoo inspired bowling shirts.  This was one of the first major leaps that ink made from skin to fabric, and for better or worse, it's started a domino effect in the fashion industry.

Tattoos are no longer for the burly and pierced, even Italian shoe and "it bag" affectionados have started to merge fashion with ink.  The branding of personal parts with highly recognizable labels was another domino in the path to tattoo fashion that now permeates departments stores, shoe racks, handbags, and even shower curtains.

Ed Hardy, student of classic tattoo artist Sailor Jerry Collins, has brought the vintage tattoo aesthetic off the wall flash of a tattoo shop and made it available to anyone who has ever been a fan of tattoo design but not wanted the permanence of ink work... or anyone who's a fan of trends, as the Ed Hardy brand has exploded in popularity.  I was thisclose to purchasing an Ed Hardy baby-doll shirt from Nordstrom Rack this week, but some sense of indignation wouldn't let me.

As much as I love tattoos, (especially the four I have so far), I can't bring myself to support an industry that takes the personal story and unique art out of the design work by mass printing it.  On the flip side, I appreciate how the popularity of tattoo fashion has helped further propel the public acceptance of visible ink work, especially since I made no attempt to secure future job opportunities when I tattooed my neck and both forearms, (not propelled enough, though, since it didn't stop an elderly Spanish man where I work from telling me it was so sad that I'm going to hell because of my tattoos, since I seem so nice).

What do you think of tattoo inspired fashion?  Is it a trend to keep, toss, or let evolve beyond just the tribal and Sailor Jerry styles?