Tattoo You

July 26, 2006-- Posted at 1:07 am

JONESBORO-- It started as a tribal art and evolved into a whole new form of expression.

It's an explosion of color and design that's taken over pop culture.

As tattoo parlors continue to pop up in Jonesboro and all over Region 8, we decided to explore the popularity of tattoos and the people who have them.

And while tattoos are a growing trend for now, the question remains... Would you let someone tattoo you?

It's everywhere... On television, in magazines, on 1 in every 8 Americans... An explosion of color and expression in entertainment and life... And with TLC's Miami Ink and A & E's Inked, tattoos have become even more popular... Both TV shows center around the lives of people with tattoos and the meaning behind them.

"It's pop culture. Anytime pop culture runs in a certain direction they tend to blow it out of proportion on TV," Zen Factory Tattoo Artist Jeremy Liblanc says.

Liblanc has been experimenting with ink since he was a kid...

"I used to draw a lot when I was in school... When you draw somebody a picture and they lose it, it's gone. Where as a tattoo stays with you forever," Liblanc says.

For Jeremy, who uses tattoos and piercing to express himself, it seems only natural to share his interest with others. He averages 40 customers per week at the Zen Factory in downtown Jonesboro.

"Some people tend to get tattoos to show what they're about. Then you've got people who just really like art and decide to wear it on their skin," Liblanc says.

Right now Liblanc is working on Matt Harper. This is his first tattoo.

"I don't think I'll regret it." Harper says.

He's getting a tattoo on his wrist representing earth, wind and fire... And for Matt, the tatt is not just about the look... He says it says a lot about life.

After tattooing people like Matt for over 10 years and getting lots of tattoos for his own reasons, it's a concept Liblanc can relate to.

"Peoples' minds have opened up to the fact that it can be art and not just a stamp of something," Liblanc says.

"Whenever you get a tattoo, you should greatly consider that it's going to be with you for the rest of your life," Harper says.

Amanda Forkum has two tattoos...

"The top one is Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album cover. The bottom is the Chinese symbol for strength," Forkum says.

And then there's one she's not so proud of...

"When I got it was one of those impulsive, spur of the moment decisions," Forkum says.

And with new technology, she hopes her mistake will vanish...

"With the laser, there's much less scaring that's involved. It's uncomfortable at the time it's shot but it was also uncomfortable at the time it was put on. It's a trade off," Dr. David Lewis of OFSC says.

"It's pretty painful. It really feels like grease popping at your skin... Kind of like when grease pops back at you. That's what it feels like but repeatedly," Forkum says!

A laser seems like the most conventional way to remove a tattoo, but it can be painful and expensive.

"What a laser does is it passes through the skin and hits that specific target, the ink, and explodes it into very tiny particles that the tissue can come behind a gobble up and take away," Dr. Lewis says.

"If I would have known that I would've wanted to get it removed and how much it was going to hurt... And how much time and money it was going to take... I would've never done it," Forkum says.

Even as Amanda etches away at the brown ink that once seemed like a good idea.

Back at the tattoo shop, guys like Liblanc continue to ink the streets, leaving their mark on society... Giving people a way to express themselves... And introducing growing cities like Jonesboro to whole new form of art.

Doctors say the easiest tattoo colors to remove are red, black and brown. Although, there are more advanced lasers that have the capability of removing multi-color tattoos.

As for the estimated cost, a small tattoo starts at around $35, and the price goes up from there depending on the size. Jeremy Liblanc from the Zen Factory says he has seen one pay up to $17 hundred dollars.