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Getting inked transcending spectrum of society – Bloomington Pantagraph

Posted in Tattoo Designs on Aug 11, 2017

BLOOMINGTON Sarah Bauer’s children can see artistic proof of their mother’s love every day.

It’s on her left shoulder, extending down her arm half way to her elbow and over her back to cover her entire shoulder blade.

It’s a tattoo of a phoenix, the mythical bird, complete with tail feathers to represent her son, Phoenix, 20; two swallows to represent her daughters, Brynn, 6, and Anna, 5; and a larger swallow to represent a child lost in a late-term miscarriage.

Don’t forget the tattoo on her right foot and ankle, an origami crane with her maiden name, “Sexton,” tattooed below the crane. That’s in honor of her parents, Tim and Deb Sexton of Bloomington.

“My dad does origami,” Bauer explained.

“Family is the most important thing to me,” Bauer said. “I wanted something to honor them.”

Bauer, 40, of Bloomington, represents a new generation of Central Illinoisans getting inked.

The stereotype of military personnel and bikers as the primary customers of tattoo parlors no longer works when more people getting tattoos are like Bauer, a mother and human resources’ systems supervisor for Country Financial in Bloomington.

“I’m seeing more of it, especially in the younger generation, but it’s across all demographics,” said Dr. Lamont Tyler, regional director of specialty care for the OSF HealthCare Eastern Region.

“It’s not just among blue-collar people or those who served in the military,” he continued. “We’re seeing it more in the white collar community. It transcends every spectrum of society.”

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 40 percent of respondents had someone in their household with a tattoo, up from 21 percent in 1999.

“There’s not as much of a stigma attached to it,” said Caitlyn Gagliano, 23, a tattoo artist and body piercer at Smokin’ Aces, a tattoo studio at 622 N. Main St., Bloomington.

“This generation seems more relaxed,” added Dre Willis, 36, a tattoo artist and manager at Smokin’ Aces.

Reasons are numerous. One is because more sports and pop stars have tattoos.

But another reason is because people can get almost anything tattooed now as artists grow in their proficiency and creativity.

“The tattoos that you’re seeing now, you didn’t see 10 years ago,” said Jamie Holtfreter, 43, a body piercer and owner of Exquisite, which offers body piercing and has offered tattoos at 409 N. Main St., Bloomington. “The quality of the work is phenomenal.”

As a result, “tattoos are becoming more acceptable in the workplace,” Holtfreter said.

“Back when I started in the industry, it was more tribal (design),” Holtfreter said. Now designs are as diverse at the tattoo artists themselves.

Today, tattoos are less about rebellion and more about family and other things important to the individual, artists said.

For example, Willis’ tattoos include his daughter’s name, Cheryl, on his right hand.

Gagliano’s tattoos include her favorite classic horror movie star, Vincent Price, and a phrase from her mother, “Strong Like Bull,” with her mother’s favorite flower, the lily.

Holtfreter’s tattoos include things she likes, such as Strawberry Shortcake (a childhood memory), Harry Potter and cupcakes.

“When I got my first tattoo on my foot (nine years ago), tattoos were more of an anomaly or a sign of rebellion,” Bauer recalled. Since then, tattoos have become more about decorative, colorful expressions of one’s self, she said.

Three years ago, Bauer had the larger swallow tattooed by an artist in Springfield in memory of a child who died by miscarriage.

In March and April of this year, Bloomington-Normal tattoo artist Ricky Sturdivant tattooed the phoenix and two smaller swallows.

Combined, all the tattoos took about 16 hours for the artists to complete and cost about $2,800, Bauer said.

“To me, it’s meaningful,” Bauer said. “Some people don’t feel the need to outwardly express themselves. But this is something my children can see. And they love to see it. It shows their importance to me.”

“When I first got it, my mom was worried about it being exposed at work,” Bauer said. “But the nice thing about mine is I can cover them up if I need to. I rarely do. If I’m meeting with executive leadership, I do cover it up as a precaution. But I’ve never been told anything (negative from her bosses) and Country has no policy on tattoos.”

When Bauer is out in public, she gets a lot of stares and occasional double-takes.

“It doesn’t bother me,” she said. “It’s a lot of color. There’s a lot going on. It takes awhile for people to figure it out.

“People who are uncomfortable don’t say anything. I do get a lot of compliments. People will say, ‘It’s so colorful. That’s beautiful. What is it?'”

“Some people will say, ‘I bet it hurt,’ which it did. It felt like a burn.”

The top layer of her skin in the area of the tattoo came off after several days. “You let it come off and then you moisturize it,” she said.

“People think ‘You’ll be an 80-year-old with a tattoo and you’ll look different,'” Bauer observed. “I don’t care. My children always will be my children.

“And it’s a body confidence thing,” she said. “It’s a way to tell my daughters ‘You need to be confident in yourselves and your bodies, whether they are decorated or not.

“I like them (her tattoos) regardless of what other people think.”

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Getting inked transcending spectrum of society – Bloomington Pantagraph

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