Teething problems in zebra tents, where a zealous tattoo artist makes up for his lack of skill with a zillion tiny holes, have put a damper on their popularity.
But the zebra-tent phenomenon has given us another way to look at this tattoo trend.
A study by the University of Chicago, the University at Buffalo and the University College London suggests that zebra tattooing is the fastest growing fashion trend in the world, with an estimated 6 million to 10 million tattoos being made each year.
“People are taking up tattoos in a way that is a bit more like tattooing than the traditional tattooing,” said Dr Jaspreet Singh, one of the authors of the study, which was published in the British Journal of Dermatology.
“It’s really the next logical step.
You can get an ink in your nose, in your mouth or in your cheek.
You don’t need to get it in the face.
There are ways of doing it that are more comfortable.”
Singh’s team of researchers, who are also based at the University Health Network in Birmingham, UK, looked at the numbers of tattoos done in the UK in the first three months of this year.
Their study found that around 6.5 million people had tattoos on their bodies in 2017, a number that has doubled since the start of the year.
The trend has been fuelled by a growing interest in tattooing, particularly in America, which has seen a surge in popularity and has seen an increase in the number of tattoo parlours and tattoo studios.
Tattoos can cost as little as $15 and some can be up to $500.
Singh said the number and growth of tattooing was a response to a rising demand for affordable skin-tattooing services.
“What’s really interesting about this trend is that we’ve seen a lot of people get into this as a way of making money.
You could make a lot more money tattooing if you could get a lot less than $5,” he said.
“So people are looking to get an extra piece of skin that’s just a little bit more appealing.”
Dr Singh said that although people wanted to be able to get their tattoos done, there was an inherent risk of skin infections and scarring.
In order to keep things fun, tattoo artists use a variety of tools including a laser, a pen, a needle and a glue gun.
“The tattoo artist doesn’t just use the tattoo but he uses a lot and a lot to get that done.
So you’re getting a lot that you wouldn’t get if you just did it yourself,” he explained.”
So a lot, in fact, of the time, the tattoo artist will spend using a laser and a needle to create the ink, the ink itself and the glue that they use to attach it to the skin.
So there is a lot going on.”
Singhs team also looked at how people’s tattooing habits changed as they became more familiar with tattooing and the tattoo shop.
They found that people were increasingly likely to have a tattoo on their cheeks or forehead, with around half of those saying they did it to make themselves look more masculine.
The study also found that the trend was growing more popular among women, who were more likely to use the same tattoo technique as men.
“Women are very keen on this, as well as men, as they’re often wearing very little clothing, especially as they get older,” Singh said.
“And they may not even be able or comfortable to get tattooed.”
For many, getting a tattoo was an option that didn’t have to be as expensive or as long as doing it themselves.
“If you’re looking to give your skin a nice tattoo that’s a lot easier to do than if you’re going to go out and get your own tattoo, you can do it for free,” Singh added.
He said the tattooed body was becoming more attractive to younger people, who had seen an increasing number of female celebrities with tattoos.
“They’re not going to see it as something that’s really dangerous or a liability, so I think it’s going to appeal to younger women who don’t want to be seen with tattoos,” he noted.
But for some, getting an ink on their face or neck was a different matter.
“Some people would just take it off, so that’s something that they don’t really want to have to do,” Singh continued.
“For some people it’s more about vanity, and for some people, the whole idea of getting an extra tattoo is very important.”
I think that’s why people are becoming more comfortable with it.
“The study, entitled Tattoos and Social Capital in a Changing World, is the first to explore the effect of tattoo tattoos on the development of a country’s social capital.