What is the Perfect Age for Ink?
Around the world and especially in the West tattooing continues to pick up steam on a near daily basis. The notion that having tattoos makes you appear rebellious or edgy is rapidly disappearing as more individuals from all walks of life make the decision to permanently mark their bodies. Is it ever too late? Are you too old for tattoos? Doubtful. How about too young? Potentially. Read on and see what you think – Does age matter when it comes to ink?
Of course tattoos are as varied as the people who choose to wear them and high quality tattoos always stand out from the crowd for their quality, clarity and ability to age well. Speaking of aging, now that it appears everyone has a tattoo certain demographics previously underrepresented are jumping into the fray. I am talking about the very young and the very old and the prospect of getting tattoos at an age that raises eyebrows.
What IS the perfect age to get tattooed? That is about as easy to answer as “what is the perfect tattoo’. Everyone is different and comes to this decision for their own reasons – good, bad or otherwise. Can you be too old for a tattoo? Too young? Each end of the spectrum has its own special considerations.
Too Young for Tattoos?
What is too young for a tattoo? Of course the law in virtually every western nation prohibits the tattooing of a minor (minor being below 15 -18yrs depending on your location). The logic is a minor could not properly consent to a permanent and potentially life changing decision due to a lack of maturity so the law protects them from making a rash or foolish decision (sort of like marriage).
Does that mean you will magically make sound choices once you achieve 16 years? Hmmmm think back to when YOU were 16. Do you still like all the same things you did back then? Love all the same people? Have all the same interests? Young people going in for their first tattoos are understandably excited and proud but also risk a potential poor choice due to a lack of life experience and perspective. (Of course this is not exclusive to the very young as any number of “bad tattoo” internet sites will attest to).
This doesn’t apply to every teenager getting tattooed but as more and more celebrities – who are also in their teens – sport ever more ink it does drive a trend amongst the vulnerable youth market to follow suit. Will Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber still love their tattoos twenty plus years down the road? Will the thousands of kids who copied their favorite celebs ink feel the same?
My final thought on inking up early and heavy – what if your tastes change? Maybe not subject matter. You might be into skulls and roses at 16 and also at 36 but if you use up all your prime real estate early in the game what is left? And what if you develop an appreciation not just for ink but for top-notch ink from well-respected artists? Will you have any skin left? For the young I would say start small, space them out time-wise and be thoughtful in your choices. You plan on being around for a while, right? Tattooing will still be there for you when you are in your twenties, thirties and beyond.
Too Old for Tattoos?
What about way beyond? Can you be too old for tattoos? I think not. Of course as we age the texture of our skin changes and this is something a skilled tattoo artist understands and takes into account. Good artists know that skin quality can have a big effect on tattoo quality.
If you are getting on in years and things are getting a bit…wobbly…should that stop you? Oh hell no. But seek out a truly skilled artist that is well versed their craft and can give you realistic expectations as well as excellent results. But what about the stigma? In days past the site of a heavily tattooed older person meant they had lived a roustabout lifestyle.
Sailors, bikers, carnival and circus folk – they wore their feathered and faded tattoos with pride – a personal map of their colorful lives and with good reason. The old saw about “hating how your tattoos look when you are old” is something people who don’t like tattoos say. Elizabeth Weirnzl – legendary tattoo collector (who passed in 1993)
and Lyle Tuttle – legendary tattoo artist (still alive and kicking ass)
look amazing in their later years with their beautiful and yes…weathered tattoos telling their individual stories so well.
But what if you never thought about getting tattooed until you were past middle age? I myself jumped into the fray after a double mastectomy and the subsequent tattoos that covered my scars. Prior to that I had one tiny tattoo hidden from view that I had done in my early 20’s. Now in my mid 40’s I have sleeves, one shoulder and a laundry list of artists I hope to work with and prime real estate I hope to cover. My only concern? Not getting all the ink I want before I’m dead. I’ll keep going indefinitely – age be damned.
The only social stigma you should be concerned with is being seen as the type of person who cares too much about what other people think.
(some more thoughts on THAT from One Salty Kiss)
So even if you are a tender teen or a wizened senior citizen you can still embellish your body – just think before you ink and always seek out a professional and experienced artist for the best results.