Ink be gone!

WHILE it may be said having a tattoo is almost an ink passport to living on the North Coast, it seems things may have swung just a little too far in the art of permanent skin decoration, with some laser clinics reporting an upsurge in tattoo removal bookings in the last year.

“This clinic has been open for 15 years,” says Angie Moon, practice manager of the Ashbury Skin Care and Laser Clinic, at Bundall on the Gold Coast.

“We have a lot of people now wanting to get rid of tattoos because they're applying for jobs and visible tattoos such as on the neck and hands are a problem. This has increased over the last year particularly. It's across all ages, from teenagers who had something silly done last week to 70 year-old pensioners.”

Online blogs are currently debating whether the 'absence' of model Sarah O'Hare's twin-dolphin tattoo is due to Photoshop or laser, although husband Lachlan Murdoch still sports his collection of ink art.

While tattoos have been around for thousands of years and are still an important part of some cultures, particularly Polynesian ones, the tattoo trend has only moved out of the 'fringe' over the last three decades.

Where once only sailors sported hula dancers which wiggled when they flexed their forearms and ex-cons bore dodgy ink-work as a memento of time inside (think 'love' and hate' across the knuckles, spiderwebs on knee caps), tattoos are pretty much an equal-opportunity event these days, although men still outnumber women.

For every Angelina Jolie, whose children are reputedly entertained by being allowed to fingerpaint the elaborate tiger on her lower back, there are two or three Tommy Lees and Robbie Williamses keeping the ink-slingers in business.

But his-and-hers tattoos are still very popular, although the discreetly 'arse-antlered' Victoria Beckham has a long way to go before she catches up with hubby's collection. Reportedly influenced by Prison Break tatts, David has one fully- inked arm, while the other sports an unfortunately-misspelt 'Victoria' in Hindu - well, it is the thought that counts.

While 'tattooed ladies' such as last century's famed Betty Broadbent would barely raise a second glance on the street these days, let alone inspire people to pay to check them out, given what's freely on offer on any warm day, tattoos on women still manage to inspire a little more controversy.

It probably doesn't help that plenty of female celebs with tatts are actively cultivating a 'bad girl' image; from Nicole Ritchie's tattooed rosary around her ankle (displayed in a pose most unsuitable for a family paper), to train wrecks such as Brittney Spears and currently out-of-control Amy Winehouse.

However local artist Tom Denholm, of Creative Tattoo Art, Byron Bay, says that clients today make 'really personal choices'.

“Years ago they all picked things off the wall,” he says.

“These days they are quite astute and informed and looking to express their own spirituality.”

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