Once the mark of the outlaw, an anti-social brand that set a man apart, tattoos have experienced a fiery rebirth. They are now seen as a rite of passage, and a commonplace means of self-expression. Increasingly, they are also becoming a respected art form.
There will always be colorful characters like Dennis Rodman or Mike Tyson, representing the extreme end of the spectrum, but plenty of today's hottest stars have gone under the needle without the need to show the entire world or become a walking punchline.
From the young Hollywood party crowd to the top names in rock and roll, andfrom hip hop stars to celebrated thespians, custom tattoos are becomingHollywood's favorite way to express individuality. A partial list includesRobert De Niro, Jaime Pressly, Ashlee Simpson, Carson Daly, Jessica Alba andKate Hudson. The hot tattoo celebrity artist of choice is a guy named MisterCartoon, who specializes in the old school black ink fine line work thatevolved out of the prison system.
The prevalent style these days is arguably new school, or neo-traditionaldesign. New school will take a classic design like a heart with a dagger andupdate it with bolder, brighter colors and basically try to present a familiaridea in an unfamiliar way.
Another style that is a current favorite is the traditional Japanese styleknown as Irezumi, popularly characterized by icons such as koi fish ortsunamis. Also popular are neo-tribal tattoos and tattoos with Celtic motifs.Artists at the top shops tend to be familiar with many tattoo genres, but eachwill have a personal specialty that develops into a distinctive style.