Growth of Ink; Tattooing in the Triad

Times are changing. That’s what any tattoo artist in theTriad will tell you. As the years pass, tattoos are moving from being associated with convicts, bikers, and other rough crowds and towards social acceptance. According to a 2012 Harris Poll, more than one in five American adults has at least one tattoo, which is up from less than one in seven in 2008. There are more than ten tattoo and piercing shops in the Burlington area alone and upwards of 70 or more in the Triad.

In the midst of this change, there are key differences between the tattoo scene now and that of years past. “Most people nowadays at least have one, or have talked about getting one or thought about it. No matter the age, we’ve seen as much as 18-year-old people in here all the way up to like 65. There’s been a 65-year-old woman that came and got a tattoo here before.” says D.J. Catlett, shop manager of Inferno Ink Tattoo in Burlington

As the industry moves into the mainstream, the practice is embraced as an art form more and more, even by older generations. Bobby Maness, who owns his own shop Last Stand Studio and trained at least nine artists currently in Alamance County, described how the art of the ink has changed, “Tattoos now are more of an art form, instead of just the sticker kind of tattoos. And so the people that can’t really draw are being pushed out. And it’s a good thing because this sticker art thing is not ‘in’ anymore.”

Sticker art is the genre of tattoos that essentially looks like a sticker on the skin.  They are small, colorful and the generally cliché tattoos your parents warned you about. Maness believes they are on the way out, being replaced by more custom designs. However, the majority of the tattooed community is not setting any speed records abandoning old ways.

Jordan Goldston, an artist at Inferno Ink Tattoo said, “People around here aren’t used to fully tatted people walking around, so we get a lot of generic pieces around here.” The tattoo scene in the Triad is quite unlike tattoo culture on the west coast, where tattoos are viewed as more of the artist’s creation instead of just body art.  Goldston described the scene in California, “Out west… [you] give the artist an idea and the artist just runs with it, makes it however he wants to and makes it his piece.”

Generic pieces, such as the sticker art and names, while not the most interesting for the artist, are the bread and butter of financial security. Chris Burgess, who tattoos at Rare Breed Tattoo in downtown Burlington, described the small quick tattoos as being the moneymakers, while the larger custom pieces are what builds the portfolio and skills.

Chris Burgess applies a stencil for a small tattoo at Rare Breed Tattoos. These small tattoos are the real moneymakers for artists.

Unfortunately for the growth of tattooing, the practice of “scratching” is becoming more and more common. Scratching is when people, disdainfully called “scratchers,” by artists, tattoo illegally out of their homes without having formal training or licensure.  DeShazo said this is the main competition with the legal shops in the area because illegal operations can charge much less.  “What’s messing up the tattoo scene, I think, is the people that are [working] out of the house.”

Cheaper tattoos often come at the cost of quality; especially since most tattoo supply companies will not sell quality equipment to artists not associated with a legal shop, so only knockoff companies sell cheap equipment to anyone.  Maness blames in part the many tattoo shows on television today.  “It’s taken a dramatic effect on the general public, everybody thinks ‘oh I see it on TV, I see these people doing it, I can do the same thing.’  These companies are selling people tattoo equipment so that they can do it out of their house, and then they gotta come to me to get it fixed, because they’re not an artist.  They have no idea what they’re doing or how to run the machine.  They haven’t gone through any type of apprentice.” Maness clarifies that art still prevails. He started tattooing underground while in the Navy, but he had been an artist since he could walk.  He criticizes scratchers that are simply tattooing to make some fast money.

Zachery Wright, an artist at Body Ink Tattoos in Haw River, says the increase in scratchers is what has changed the most about the tattoo culture since he started tattooing.  He says that there are more scratchers now than there were five years ago. “I think it’s one thing to start out as a scratcher realizing that you want to pursue it further, and go into a shop and learn it then, but I think its another thing never to draw anything…and just try to tattoo for the popularity of it.”

Bobby Maness works on a large custom piece in his new shop, Last Stand Studio. These large works help build the portfolio and name of the artist.

The biggest problem with tattooing as a scratcher is not the lack of quality in the tattoos; it is the danger of infectious disease.  When someone buys a cheap tattoo kit online, sterilization of the equipment is not easy. In a licensed shop, there is an autoclave to ensure the equipment is clean, but home shops often do not have this technology, and even while using disposable needles and tubes, the machine itself can become contaminated if it is not properly cleaned after each session.

A common argument for the banning of tattoos is that there is a higher risk of disease.  However since 1985, when the Centers for Disease Control started tracking HIV transmission, there has not been a single case of HIV being contracted from a legal tattoo studio.  There have, however been seven cases from the dental industry.  As far as hepatitis goes, there are approximately 12 cases annually from legal tattoo studios, but 43 from dental offices.

As part of the application process to open a tattoo studio in North Carolina, each artist in the studio must prove that they are educated in blood borne pathogens and the studio must meet a series of guidelines concerning the construction of the shop as well as water, plumbing, and sewage systems.  In addition, the shop must keep a record of every person tattooed for a minimum of two years, including a copy of photo identification.

Tattoos are entering their prime time of acceptance in American culture.  They’re in, hot, and safe.  Instead of being shadowed in doubt and distrust, the art form is growing.


Incoming Freshman Tryout for Elon Cheerleading

On Friday, hundreds of incoming first year students swarmed Elon’s campus for spring orientation.  Among campus tours, learning about majors and having their photo taken for student ID cards, some students made the choice to take the first step in becoming student athletes.

As the day’s activities came to an end and most students returned to their hotels for the night, tryouts began.  Students underwent three hours of intense tryout activities.  The tryouts tested student’s skills in cheering, dancing, stunting and tumbling.

As an Elon cheerleader, athletes need to be at the top of their game at each and every outing, looking

professional while ensuring safety for everyone is top priority.

On Saturday afternoon, students will return to perform their official tryouts. This final test will be the deciding factor as to whether or not they receive an acceptance letter after the April tryouts.

Personal Cost of Convenience

As modern technology continues to advance at extraordinary speeds, society is continually moving towards a time when we will be unable to go without our gadgets.  Andrew Keen of CNN believes that technology is turning into a Frankenstein’s monster of sorts.  The idea is that once technology become so powerful and ingrained in the everyday workings of life, it will be impossible to remove it.

While what Keen says is true, his interpretation of this “problem” can be viewed quite differently. While people are getting all worked up constantly over privacy concerns as social networking sites and smart phones are more and more a part of our life, there is a possibility to change how we handle things. 

As The Joker in the Dark Knight said, “You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go ‘according to plan.’ Even if the plan is horrifying!” Just think about how much can be changed if websites and companies are up front with how users information is going to be exploited, it makes it all “ok.” If the plan up front is to use information for advertising and making money, people are willing to go alone with it.

Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.”

The fact that people are becoming lazier by the day and constantly relying on technology just shows that it does not really matter what the cost of it is. We will give anything necessary to have access to constant information at our fingertips, even if it means less privacy and more targeted advertisement. However, how bad is this actually? The productivity advancements that can be found using modern technology is amazingly helpful and lends itself to making our complicated lives just a little bit simpler.

Marriage, an Unequal Theory

Marriage has been around for a long time and is now considered a right for any heterosexual couple.  Unfortunately, opponents of homosexual relationships have worked tirelessly to insure that gays are not afforded their right to be married, by continually citing the ancient definition that a marriage is between one man and one woman.

A right is something that when freely exercises does not take away or diminish the right of another person.

North Carolina Amendment One is a bill, which if approved, would officially define marriage in the state constitution as a joint of one man and one woman.  Even though gay marriage is already illegal in the state, there is still a push to completely shut the books on the issue.

Changing the law to allow gay marriage would be a relatively easy step if the public was behind it, however changing the law and the constitution will be a monumental challenge.  Aside from politicians pushing for the bill to be passed, various groups, such as are in support of the bill, saying “In several states same sex marriage has been imposed upon the people by courts that have engaged in tortured judicial reasoning – Massachusetts and Iowa for example.“  Unfortunately for gays seeking marriage, there is this misbelief that gays are shoving it down the throats of straight people.

In the conservative Christian community, there is great support behind ensuring that gay marriage is not only illegal, but is also determined unconstitutional.  By citing Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as those who lie with a female; it is an abomination,” yet ignoring Luke 16:18 “Jesus said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.’” And the Bible calls for the punishment of adultery to be death.

The truth of the matter is that NC Amendment One is a hateful and extreme law that only serves to continually send the message that gays are less of a person than “normal” people and discriminates against them.  If we wanted to follow all the other laws in the Old Testament, every man would have a beard that he could not trim, hair he could not cut, we would be unable to wear many modern clothing blends, there would be no barbeque or bacon, and women would leave for a week during and after their period.

The point is that the Bible prohibiting gay marriage is not the real issue.  The real issue has to do with continual hate and refusal to learn or understand how other people act.  This was a problem with the blacks during the civil rights movement, and women during the Seneca Falls Convention, and has even caused centuries of violence between Christians, Jews, and Muslims.  Simply put, people dislike anyone that is not just like them.

The Super Bowl…a Silly, Overpriced Entertainment

The Super Bowl…this game seems to be the most important event of the year for just about every American. The best of the best professional football teams battle it out to see who wins the AFL–NFL World Championship Game. Aside from the fact that Americans would create a “World Championship” game that only invites American teams, why is this game such a big deal to our kindergarden country?
Sports are very important in our country, and the world, however the level that people get worked up to for a game that is played by people are getting paid obnoxious amounts of money to play.
Fans at the game paid around $2000 for a “cheap” ticket while expensive tickets went for over $12000. These costs are often 10 times the face value of these tickets, however the demand is so high that costs are driven up. This, combined with the ridiculous average advertising cost of $3.5 million per 30 seconds shows that the Super Bowl is simply an insane money making ploy.
As the rest of the country is plunged in a recession, billions of dollars are sunk during this one game. While many billionaires make their money providing a valid service, professional football makes gobs of money for players and owners, yet returns nothing tangible for the viewers, aside from entertainment value that could be obtained for a great deal less money.

Day 147…What Now?

It started with 1000 people in New York City in Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2010.  The protest, which exploded into the crazy Occupy Wall Street movement, or #occupywallstreet, was planned from the start by Canadian non-profit magazine company, Adbusters.  Since that day, it has been 147 days and the movement has spread exponentially.  The movement has been criticized for not having a strong defined purpose, and later on for the levels of crime from within.

Acording to, there have been 6509 confirmed arrests from 110 different cities across the United States. The arrests have only served to undermine the efforts of the movement and give cause for concern to politicians who have allo

wed it to continue. While OWS is still in operation according to Adbuster’s official OWS website and in its 147th day, the actual activity would say otherwise.  On the 140th day, February 3rd, police in Washington D.C. cleared out one of the last Occupy camps, arresting seven people. Adbusts is far from giving up, and issued a call for 50000 protesters to Occupy the G8 Summit on May 1st.

The main issue that has arisen with this movement is the question of its
thing is changed as a result for possibly several years.value. To answer the question simply, the movement succeeded in creating awareness of the issues at hand, especially the unequal distribution of wealth.  We will not know if any

Another thing that OWS proved is how far laws can be bent and broken before repercussions. The idea that procreated among the Occupiers is that Americans have the fundamental right to protest, which is not actually a fact.  The first amendment gives people the right “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government f

or a redress of grievances.”  Nothing about illegally camping, or “Occupying,” prohibited grounds and tearing up public parks is peaceable. Police did not arrest Occupiers because of the protest itself, it was simply for the crimes.

In many cities, large assemblies must have proper permits for the safety of everyone involved. Camping is prohibited on most federal and state government grounds. Public urination, defecation, and fornication are illegal.  The fact of the matter is t
hat many Occupiers did not follow certain laws, which resulted in their arrest

Santorum Takes Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado Caucuses

In the race to the White House, Rick Santorum made great progress last night as he won caucuses in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. In Minnesota, Santorum took home 44.8 percent of the vote, being trailed by Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich with 27 percent and 11 percent respectively.  On the day of the vote, Santorum told the people, “Minnesota, you don’t need to settle for second best. Pick the best.”

Even though the caucus in Missouri was not binding, Santorum won 55 percent of the vote.  His next leading competitor was Mitt Romney would took home less that half the votes that Santorum did, with only 25.3 percent.

In Colorado, the race was a little closer, however Santorum won with 40 percent of the votes, just 5 percent more than Romney.  The next challenge will be Maine on February 11.  While winning these caucuses certainly puts Santorum in a good place for racing against President Obama in November, he is still quite far from Romney. The states will make their final decisions during conventions in the coming months.

Election Central


Denver Post

Info-graphic from The Wall Street Journal