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From Tacky to Timeless: How Tattoos are Finally Being Recognized as Art

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

By: Amalie Rhebeck

A snake on a ribcage, a family name across shoulder blades or even a simple fine line rose on a wrist. No matter the design, style or significance, tattoos are increasing in popularity and acceptance in society. A lot of this can be attributed to younger generations who are challenging the norms surrounding body art.

According to YPulse, a market research firm that tracks data on Millennials and Gen Z, almost 40% of Gen Z reported having tattoos in 2022, which is an almost 20% jump from 2019. While there is no denying that more young people are getting inked, the cultural response to tattoos themselves is beginning to shift as well.

In the past, tattoos were considered irresponsible, dangerous and overly expensive by older generations. The idea of permanent art on your body was frowned upon in both personal and professional settings up until recently. But as younger generations are getting more tattoos, what was once considered rebellious and unprofessional is now starting to be considered a form of self-expression and art.

Today, people get tattoos for a variety of reasons, from symbolic pieces to funky designs that reflect their personal style. For Shoreigh Williams, a local Phoenix artist, designer and tattoo artist, tattoos represent a true dedication to oneself.

“Be yourself. That’s why I love tattooing, because there’s no going back” Williams said. “Commit to that bro [and] commit to yourself. That’s what tattooing is: committing to yourself. Period.”

Williams did exactly that Saturday, Sept. 16, when she launched her “Pleading Insanity Studio,” where her art is on display including on canvas, clothes and her tattoo studio, which is a designated and eclectically designed room just for her tattooing.

“I think that having the studio definitely set the tone for continuing to spread the artwork through all types of ways: clothing, print, tattoos, how ever I can reach the people,” she said.

Williams recognizes the space that is being created for tattoos in today’s society. She stressed how this movement is especially noticeable in the workplace, where traditional ideas surrounding dress codes and tattoos have continually been perpetuated well into the twenty-first century. It has only been in recent years that tattoos are no longer seen as a reflection of a person’s capability to do their job.

“So that means that if you want the tattoo, [and] if you’re thinking about a job and you’re thinking they won’t want you to have that tattoo, you probably don’t want that job,” Williams said.

Williams is the perfect example of an artist who is advocating for people to challenge the way that tattoos are viewed. She sees her creations as an opportunity to “reach the people” who appreciate tattooing for the art that it is. Now, as she looks towards her next steps with her new studio, she claims that decisions no matter how big (like opening her own studio) or how small (like taking the risk and getting a tattoo) all circle back to what she calls a “lightbulb” moment.

“This life is either all or it’s nothing,” she said, “So give it your all and you will definitely get whatever you want out of it.”

You can find Shoriegh Williams and her studio on Instagram @shoreighwilliams and @pleadinginsanitystudio. It is an appointment-only studio located at 1624 E. Washington St. Suite 5.

Photos by: Mj Emerson

What is your opinion on tattoos? Let us know on Instagram and Twitter or leave us a comment!


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