Tattoo shops have been the final holdout for the outlaw culture for so many decades, history has lost track of its beginnings. In the early days of body art, the work itself was limited to those individuals who had a talent for artwork and those individuals who simply wanted artwork on their body. From these humble beginnings, centuries of amazing artwork followed, artwork that has been lost to time as those who volunteer their body as a canvas for the artwork of others have gone the way of the dinosaurs. It is easy to imagine these early years as the formative infrastructure of the modern body art culture. With skin and ink to work with, these early artists gave us all manner of revolutionary new designs and a modern way of thinking about the human body.
As tattoo shops emerged from this type of do-it-yourself culture, more and more bizarre designs and intricate patterns became available, making it a simple matter to point at a picture and say I want that. With this basic procedure in place, the artwork and artist who applied it suddenly became more uniform and easier to predict. The individual would be subjected to an endless amount of training in order to ensure that they were capable of turning out a perfect piece of art every single time. After all, you would not want someone to misspell your third ex-wife’s name on your upper left butt cheek, regardless of how hysterically funny that might be in the long run. With this improved level of training came a higher expectation from consumers and customers alike.
As tattoo shops began to lay down more stringent rules about employees as well as procedures involving the materials used to produce body art, the evolution of the shop itself began to see all manner of little quirks. New materials and inks became the norm, specialized needles that injected ink on their own, rather than requiring multiple applications, became a standard operating procedure. As more and more individuals brought their canvas in to be worked on, the actual application of ink became so refined that in the modern day, the artwork available and the detail that can be achieved is staggering to say the least. From tiny little spiders on massive webs to flies in the ointment, the detail and scope of today’s body art is staggering.
But even then, tattoo shops did not stop evolving. In fact, the late 60s and early 70s brought an explosion of popularity to the tattoo shops in the form of motorcycle enthusiasts. In the modern day, people ride motorcycles all the time and nobody thinks anything of it. But at one time, in America, motorcycles meant something, something more than just the ability to purchase a motorcycle and ride. It was a biker culture, and bikers like tattoos.
With the advent of biker culture, it didn’t take long for tattoo shops to suddenly explode onto the scene, attracting business from all around the world. Individuals that were bikers wanted to look like bikers and those who were not bikers also wanted to look like bikers, causing a long line of customers to come streaming through the doors of even the smallest tattoo shops. Today, you can find someone to apply body art in almost every city in the world.