Power, pain and purpose: what does a tattoo mean in 2019?

Morning Dose
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Love them or hate them, tattoos are here to stay. And whether it’s a whole sleeve or more of a distinct piece, tattoos are designed to say something.

Following the recent passing of Lyle Tuttle— a man often referred to as the father of modern American tattooing — Morning Dose decided to take an in-depth look at the current tattoo movement here in Houston.

Owner Tim Gooding of Virtue Tattoo studio explains the powerful influence of permanent body art from self-expression, unity for a great cause, nostalgia to simply it’s just in fashion. While his shop services mostly people between 18 to 35, he’s had visitors come in from all ages and walks of life, looking to get inked.

“We definitely have the people that come in that are like, ‘I’ve been, (they’re 65 and they come in), my whole life I’ve been wanting a tattoo— and this is the perfect time,'” Gooding said.

“We’re getting a lot of semi-colon tattoos, the autism awareness puzzle pieces,” Gooding said. “It empowers [the wearer] and when somebody else sees that tattoo, they’re able to go ‘hey, I understand what that means.’ And gets a conversation going, and it kind of bonds people together.”

Gooding said most of them come in for meaningful tattoos; one’s that celebrate a life lesson, a special date or a special someone in their lives. Tattoos have away of empowering people as individuals but also bring them together, especially after key historic events. In Houston, many people got inked after surviving Hurricane Harvey and experiencing Superbowl LI.

“I would say probably about 70 percent of people who come in and get tattooed, it’s something that really speaks to them,” Gooding said. “But then you have people that collect tattoos— it’s like collecting art, but on your body forever.”

The stigma and tattoos have started to fade away in the U.S. with it’s positive placement on social media and television. In recent years, Gooding said group tattoos have become especially popular.

“It’s just the way of expressing yourself, identifying yourself as ‘I’m in this group,’ or ‘I’m a part of this,’ or ‘these are my friends,” he said. “People come in these huge waves and get these group tattoos— and that’s a way of being like ‘this is us,’ ‘this is what we’ve been through.”

Even with group tattoos, every piece is unique. At its core, ink really is about who wears it.

“Everyone’s got their own style,” Gooding said. “Some people wear jeans, some people wear slacks. Some people like this kind of tattoo or that kind of tattoo.”

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