Since the mid-'90s -- when actors and athletes began posing on magazine covers sporting custom tattoos, young people began jumping on the trend. And thanks to the likes of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, pierced belly buttons and noses have become must-have fashion accessories for today's teenage girls.
But over the last couple of years, skin art has become even more commonplace, as university students, professionals, and middle-aged moms and dads head to the tattoo parlours.
One recent American study found that one of every seven adults has a tattoo, and that this number doubles among the under-35 set.
Canadian sociologist Michael Atkinson -- who's book Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of a Body Art, will be available this July, says that women, in particular, are heading to tattoo parlours in surprising numbers. They now make up about 65 per cent of the customers.
Boyfriends and girlfriends are celebrating anniversaries by getting matching tattoos, housewives are marking a milestone birthday with a tattoo, and mothers and daughters bond as they help each other choose between a butterfly or a rose for their ankles.
But stepping through the door of a tattoo parlour can be intimidating. Many are windowless, cramped spaces, with burly-looking guys behind the counter.
So a new tattoo and body-piercing salon in Osborne Village is aiming to attract this widening consumer base by creating a shop that is upscale, friendly and inviting.
"There is a huge cross-section of people that would love to have body modification work done -- it's all the rage," says Jolyn Hoogstraten, who along with co-owner Margo Juras, has just opened the doors of Osborne Village Ink. "It's like jewelry, it has become fashion, so people who have never thought of getting a tattoo before are coming in."
Hoogstraten describes Osborne Village Ink as "high-end and classy without being snotty." She has pulled together a group of experienced tattoo artists to work at the shop, including Cam Von Cook and Fidel Romero, and piercer Andrea Farrell.
So who in Winnipeg is getting tattoos?
"You would be surprised what is under those suits," says Juras with a sly smile, noting that she has put tattoos on everyone from police officers to professionals to grandmothers.
Guys tend to go for tattoos on their upper arms while girls are more likely to choose a mostly unseen spot, with ankles, shoulders and the base of the spine the most popular locations.
Juras says most people work with the tattoo artist to create a personalized and unique design. Memento tattoos are also all the rage, with people creating special designs to celebrate a birthday or the birth of a child. Juras recalls one couple who had wedding rings tattooed on their fingers.
When it comes to catalogue designs, flowers, water/fire symbols, Old English writing, and good and evil themes are popular, she adds.
And apparently all that ink about Angelina Jolie's "Billy Bob" tattoo fiasco hasn't blotted out the desire to get their partner's tattoo on themselves. Juras says they try to convince the couple that at the very least they should use red ink, instead of black. It's easier to remove later.
A small tattoo will cost you about $100, with the average-sized tattoo ranging from $200 to $400.
Belly buttons, noses, eyebrows and tongues are the most popular sites for piercing and they can cost anywhere between $40 and $120, including jewelry.
Osborne Village Ink plans to display paintings from local artists and sell band wear, piercing jewelry and various one-of-a-kind items. "Our salon is eclectic," says Hoogstraten. "Just like the Village."
Osborne Village Ink is located at 188 Osborne St. (453-4850).