As the Town of Berlin gets down to the business of establishing standards that may or may not allow tattoo artists to set up shop in town, residents, merchants and officials need to accept the fact that the tattoo business isn’t what it used to be.
Time was that tattoo parlors were fixtures of the shadier side of the street, often on the waterfront or in less-gracious areas of towns and cities. Comprising their customer base were seafarers, military personnel and, so it was believed, civilian occupants of the lower social strata.
This would exclude, of course, the father of modern U.S. conservatism, the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, and former Secretary of State George Schultz, both of whom had ink. In addition, President Teddy Roosevelt is said to have sported his family crest on his chest.
Generally, however, the public’s perception of seedy tattoo joints led to the ban of tattoo shops in this and other jurisdictions.
But now, when one sees body art on doctors, lawyers, dentists, members of congress and noted scientists, not to mention the thousands of visitors who flock to Worcester County, it’s time to do away with the notion that the ink culture continues to reside on the fringes of society.
It is simply no longer so.
Twenty-nine percent of the American public — and 47 percent of the population between the ages of 18 and 35 — have at least one tattoo, according to a 2015 Harris Poll. This compares to 13 percent of the Baby Boomer generation and 10 percent of “Matures” above the age of 70.
Clearly, the times have changed and regulations and policies need to change with them.
This doesn’t mean throwing open the doors to any and all tattoo shops, not when health and safety issue are involved, but it does mean writing reasonable rules that would give qualified operators the opportunity to respond locally to the rapidly growing number of customers.