The Last Tattoo: An Oral History

Maybe not

“I was planning on getting a tattoo my freshman year. I was primed for it: a rainbow with birds flying over and the word ‘blessed’ in script lettering and inside the ‘B’ the face of a tiny Baby Jesus. But then I come home at Thanksgiving and find out my mom went and got a tattoo. My mom! She’s, like, 47! Stupid star on her stupid wrist. That’s what ruined tattoos for me, just like she ruined Facebook and twerking.

– Delaney R., 21, junior

“When the biker gangs stopped getting tattoos, that’s when you really got the sense that tattoos had jumped the shark — that and everyone getting tattoos of people actually jumping sharks.”

– Orville R., 26, part-time drummer

“One day I saw this 13-year-old with a tattoo at the back of her neck. I mean, she can’t even see it on herself, so what’s the point? And all I could think of was a parent had to have allowed that, like maybe even took her to get it done. And I was filled with this rage, like when I’m at the mall and I see parents at the earring kiosk puncturing their screaming toddler’s ears. But worse than that? An entire generation with ‘One Direction 4EVR’ across their backs. Or whatever the kids are listening to these days. PrettyMuch? Never heard of them.”

– Rob L., 36, sports memorabilia trader

“For me, I knew it was over when Jared Kushner tattooed ‘YOLO’ on his ankle.”

– Shannon A., 24, unemployed

People just ran out of ideas. The whole point of a tattoo is to express your individuality, but there was nothing fresh anymore. All the flowers had been taken, every astrological sign, every piece of hardware and cartoon character, infinity symbols to infinity. Even the texts had proven unsatisfying. I mean, no one actually was being the change they wanted to see in the world, you know?

– Delores S., 28, retired tattooist

“There was a real tattoo fatigue. Like it was an obligation. Like getting a tattoo was the same as giving blood or renewing your insurance. Clients would come in, and you knew right away their heart wasn’t in it. They’d spend, like, an hour flipping through the design books, and finally they’d say, ‘You know what? Just, whatever.’ I started doling out Chinese script like it was 2004, and when I was done, I’d ask, ‘Don’t you even want to know what it says?’ ‘Nah,’ they’d say, and they’d be gone. By the end, I was just tattooing signs from the windows of Chinese groceries like ‘Discount Lamb Chops’ or ‘No Spitting.’

– Gary E., 32, former tattoo shop manager

“There were also market-driven forces in play. Everyone who was ever possibly going to get a tattoo had got their tattoo. It was only a matter of time. And the true tattoo enthusiasts at this point had 80% coverage, and that’s about maximum coverage, unless you shave your head, and not everyone can pull that off.”

– Melissa M., 51, sociologist

“People used to warn you that tattoos were permanent. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it. But if you chose wisely, thoughtfully, what could go wrong, right? Well, a few years ago, a friend of mine got the face of Morgan Freeman tattooed on her shoulder. Now there’s a cautionary tale.”

– Joan R., 31, accountant

“It’s something else to blame on us Millennials, I suppose. Like, you know, do I really want to commit?”

– Doug H., 26, temp

“Business just tailed off. The hipster dude market dried up when they realized they could achieve the same effect with man buns and kombucha. As for the women, well, a shop like mine can only rely on drunken bachelorette parties for so long.”

– Steve O., 43, tattoo parlour owner

“The last tattoo I ever did, this guy walked in off the street, rolled up his shirtsleeve and asked me to ink gravel.”

– Gary E., 32, former tattoo shop manager

“And then that was it: no more tattoos. It was over. There was sadness, sure, but in a way, there was a lot of relief.”

– Amy B., 25, aspiring actress

“Culturally, it was always a foregone conclusion that tattooing as a trend was, ironically, not permanent. But there will always be new trends. I hear that voluntary amputation is going to be huge.”

– Melissa M., 51, sociologist

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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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27 Responses to The Last Tattoo: An Oral History

  1. pinklightsabre says:

    Perfect top to bottom.

  2. walt walker says:

    Yes, “Discount Lamb Chops” is my favorite.

  3. What Walt said, plus “and asked to ink gravel.” I wasn’t drinking coffee at the time, otherwise it would have been all over my shirt. But, whatever, ya know.

  4. I think you need this entire post tattooed on your back!

  5. ksbeth says:

    the jared one is my favorite. the tipping point.

  6. Gavin Keenan says:

    Hoards of people desperate to express their individuality by inking on the same, ugly designs, sayings and Bible citations. Tattoos are for Marine’s and Sailors. A friend of mine was in the U.S. Navy and worked for a chief who had a propeller tattooed on each cheek of his behind with the logo, “Twin Screws.” That’s a tattoo.

  7. List of X says:

    …adding on to my previous comment, what would really freshen the tattoo business up is, instead of tattooing flowers, Jesuses, and Chinese characters, one could tattoo a QR-code that could be read by a smartphone.
    A curious onlooker would scan the code, and on their screen an image of a tattoo would open – and you could have a new tattoo image every day!
    And if you’re ever tired of it, just have the QR-code linked to “This Tattoo Has Been Removed” page.

  8. markbialczak says:

    Did the smart tattooists put a sale on The End at the end, Ross?

  9. I got a tattoo when I was a young idiot. The wall of the tattoo parlor was covered with Polaroids (yeah, it was that long ago) of people who had gotten tattoos there. One pic was a guy who had eyeballs tattooed onto his eyelids. The idea was when his eyes were closed, they’d look like they were open. It made my eyes water just to look at the pic. I’ll NEVER have that much testosterone.

  10. manitakaur says:

    I have had my tattoos for almost 10 years now! Iam not yet bored of them I guess I will love them forever.. there are two types of people in this world the ones who love tattoos and have them and the ones who hate tattoos and have a million things to say about other people s tattoos .

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