Tattoos are more common, but not necessarily more accepted

Shelby Nass does her best to hold still as she receives her first tattoo from Todd Heying, the owner of Ace’s High Tattoo Studio in Fullerton. DAVID COATS / Daily Titan

Shelby Nass does her best to hold still as she receives her first tattoo from Todd Heying, the owner of Ace’s High Tattoo Studio in Fullerton.
DAVID COATS / Daily Titan

College students get tattoos for all kinds of reasons.

The recent growth in popularity of tattoos in Fullerton may be attributed to the rise in prominent tattoo-centered shows on television. However, it may also be a result of the high concentration of tattoo shops in the local area.

A short drive through downtown Fullerton on Harbor Boulevard reveals four tattoo shops within less than a mile of each other. Overall, there are at least 17 tattoo shops currently operating in the city of Fullerton compared to five in Anaheim, which is twice the size of Fullerton.

Todd Heying, owner of Ace’s High Tattoo Studio, the closest tattoo shop to Cal State Fullerton, said he has seen the culture and overall visibility of tattoos really change within the last decade or so.

“Ten years ago, if you saw somebody with sleeves or something on their neck and hands, they were a tattoo artist,” he said. “Where nowadays you see people that have sleeves and their hands and their neck done and … they’ve never had a job.”

He said he would conservatively estimate that at least 50 percent of the the shop’s business is from local college students.  

He said the amount of tattoo-related shows on TV has certainly helped make tattoos more visible, but he’s not sure if they have helped change the overall stigma surrounding them.

As college students, scoring that “dream job” is the ultimate goal. However, some employers frown upon tattoos, especially those that are easily visible.

“In the corporate world, it’s still not accepted,” he said.

A local example of the aversion to tattoos when it comes to a job setting is Disneyland, one of the largest employers in all of Orange County.

Visible tattoos are prohibited and “must be discreetly and completely covered at all times,” according to the Disney Careers website.

Matt Holley, a 22-year-old history major, agreed with Heying about tattoos and its current acceptance status in a professional setting.

Holley has three tattoos and got his first as a memorial to his uncle who died. However, all of his ink can easily be covered up, which he said is important to him.

“It’s kind of a bummer that it is that way … I prefer to hide mine … because I don’t want to pigeonhole myself,” he said.

Bryce Fowler, a 23-year-old senior majoring in psychology, has no tattoos, though he admits he did consider getting one in the past.

Fowler said he doesn’t care if people have tattoos, but he does tend to make judgements about people who do have them.

“I always make snap-judgements based on what is represented on them and what I’ve associated with those types of tattoos,” he said.

But he also said a person having tattoos would not affect building a friendship or other type of relationship with them.

All three men said they think it’s important for people to do their homework before deciding to put something on their body that they’ll have for the rest of their life and to actually think about what the tattoo is going to be and what it will represent.

As far as cost and quality of work goes, there’s an old motto in the tattoo world, Heying said.

“Cheap tattoos aren’t good, and good tattoos aren’t cheap.”

About David Coats

David Coats is a staff writer from the Spring 2014 COMM 471 class.