What are they inking?

By Poppy Wortman

Gin Wigmore is helping drive a trend for "sleeve" tattoos. Photo / NZ Herald
Gin Wigmore is helping drive a trend for "sleeve" tattoos. Photo / NZ Herald

Young female tattoo fans are up in arms. Very colourful arms.

The trend of tattooing an entire arm, known as a "sleeve", is leaving a big impression, and parlours report a surge in young women clients. Musicians such as Gin Wigmore and Hollie Smith have also driven the inking trend.

Receptionist Shelby Castle, 19, admits the sleeve she had tattooed about 15 months ago has drawn varied reactions.

"The reactions I get from people can be very negative, but I just remind myself, it's them that have the problem, not me.

"I had an older lady ask me in my workplace at the time why I would get such a loud, hideous thing permanently on my body, and if my parents were ashamed of me."

Design student Kate Moore, 19, has spent $700 so far and loves her half-finished arm. " "I look at it like this: at one point in your life it was exactly what you wanted so it still represents you and your past, which you shouldn't regret."

AUT's head of psychology Dr Mark Thorpe said tattoos are a fashion that can quickly become "infectious" with young people.

"Adolescents notoriously don't think clearly about the future... [there is] that sort of anticipating, 'I'll do it now, it won't matter when I'm 90', because time does a funny thing. Those parts of the brain only mature at about 25."

Cafe worker Sal Maxwell, 21, said her sleeve is halfway through and represents her childhood.

"Goku and the Hulk were always two of my favourite characters. My friend designs all my tattoos, so we kind of created a scene for me, what it'd be like if my two favourite heroes collided. I have a big imagination."

Dr Thorpe said people often get tattoos of things they fear forgetting.

"It's a very interesting connection of maybe, 'I want to grow up but I don't, so let's have something from childhood'."

Hamilton's Studio 801 tattooist Jason Ward says their largest demographic is females aged 18-25.

Central Auckland's The Tattooed Heart owner Adam Craft has been tattooing for 22 years, and said the number of females getting sleeves has steadily increased since the 1990s. "Part of it's conformity, and wanting to be fashionable like other women, but I'd definitely say that a lot of women get tattooed to affirm their identity, themselves and what they like."

- Herald on Sunday

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