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What's Fueling The Ink Craze?

MIAMI (CBS4) - The sound of a tattoo needle buzzing across your skin, is the price you pay to be part of the "in" crowd these days.

Burning a permanent design into your flesh is no longer as radical and rebellious as it once was.

Ami James, owner of Love Hate Tattoo Shop on Miami Beach, says every one young and old is getting inked. "At this point we got older ladies at the age of 75 coming in here getting tattooed. The generation gap is closing, so much so, parents are signing on the dotted line allowing their kids to brand themselves. We're almost pushing them away. And we're like, listen your kid is fifteen, why don't you give them a little bit. Let them turn 18."

Ami said it all means the stigma of a tattoo is gone.  "I can finally say people don't look down at us and we are looked upon like everybody else."

According to the website, Miami is the epicenter of the cool crowd. It ranked the most inked city in the nation… for every 100,000 residents. Miami Beach ranked number one with the most tatoo shops... 24 in all.

So why is Ocean Drive littered with ink? Jeremy Gutsche from says it's partly because of all that skin we're willing to show.

"Whenever you have a culture that is beachside based like Miami or Sao Paolo you see a much higher interest that is cosmetic, whether it's plastic surgery or something like a tattoo," said Gutsche.

Love Hate Tattoos was once where the popular TLC reality show "Miami Ink" was filmed and it's that recent surge in pop culture that experts say is the reason why it's now popular to get inked.

"Over the last few years you've started to see a celebration of tattoos in the media whether its Angelina Jolie, the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or reality TV like Miami ink.

"Every rock star, basketball player, football player, rapper, pop star, you name it… every one is getting tattooed," said Ami James.

And the adoration for physical adornment hasn't met its peak yet…SPIKE TV is auditioning tattoo artists for a new reality competition…and they came to South Florida to find potential contestants

"It's the hardest art form out there. The canvas moves screams, bleeds, cries," declared TJ Halvorsen of Tattoo Trends. He's been tattooing for 7-years and sees a change in the kind of person walking into his shop.

"Doctors, lawyers. blue-collar, white-collar, I tattooed a full back piece on a priest," Halvorsen explained to CBS4's Vanessa Borge.

But for some, tattoos are still perceived negatively.

"I think it comes off a little dirty, a little unprofessional. Typically when you talk about tattoos the first people who you think of are these motorcycle people right?" declared one parent to Borge.

That stigma stems from how tattooing originated… as a symbol of solidarity between members of the military and prison inmates.

In 2012, the bond is among people who are inked versus those who are not. In fact, a report by the Food and Drug Administration estimated that as many as 45 million Americans have tattoos. 'Thirty-six percent of people ages 25 to 29 had at least one tattoo. And just 17-percent of those… regret it.

"I was in Spain on holiday when I was 14 it was the biggest mistake I have ever made." said this woman who didn't want to give her name.

"I was 17 and I wanted a tattoo. It was ten bucks," said another woman.

"Perhaps in 20-years or 30-years when you look back you'll look at that butterfly tattoo on your back.... you're not gonna be very happy that you did it," said Gutsche.

He suggests more and more people are getting tattoos because they don't feel it's as permanent as you may think.

"Whether it's through lasers or chemical kits you see in the media, they make it seem like its less permanent than it actually is," explained Gutsche. A tattoo that cost several hundred dollars could require several thousand dollars and many laser sessions to remove."

So remember, the tattoo trend may not be as permanent as the tattoo itself.

Tattoos will outlast fashion and fashion changes. tattoos don't. So before you get inked… think twice.


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