South Lakeland sees rise in popularity of tattoos
3:50pm Wednesday 6th April 2011
SOUTH Lakeland tattoo artists have seen a boost in business as firemen, pop fans and grandmas all succumb to the body art craze.
Owners of Sweeney Todd in Kendal say they have seen an increased interest sparked by celebrity endorsements and more open industry practices.
Their appointments register is currently booking up a month in advance — and it is not just men who are opting for ink body art.
“It’s become a fashion statement,” said the shop’s co-owner Harmony Keenan.
“We’re seeing an influx of young women and we’re even starting to get people as old as 80.”
“Now we’ve had Rihanna and David Beckham in the press, we get 20-something women and Lake District businessmen wanting copycat designs or their own bespoke pieces done.
“The industry has lost the stigma it once had — where you go into a back room to get them done.”
mrs Keenan, 36, along with husband and tattoo artist Tam Keenan, 41, work up to 12 hours a day to keep up with requests from customers seeking Japanese and Chinese symbols and Celtic knotwork.
the pair have created full colour scenes that can take several months of four-hour sessions to complete.
Their Kendal firm’s success follows a national tattoo trend, with an estimated 20 million people in the UK now inked. Sweeney Todd’s co-owner Luke Babester, 37, said it was the sign of a generation who viewed the tattoo as an art form and fashion statement.
“I’ve lost track of the amount of tattoos I’ve had done by the pair I work with. It’s certainly something people become addicted to.”
Tam Keenan studied art in Glasgow and worked as a graffiti artist in New York before moving to Kendal to begin a career as a tattoo artist.
“My sketch books are full of work I’ve done for people. Our designs are custom, we can do much more than just a copy.”
Paul Shuttleworth, 38, came to Sweeney Todd’s on a friend’s recommendation to have a previous tattoo covered up.
the Morecambe fireman had writing on his arm, which he wouldn’t reveal but said he now regretted, covered over with a custom full-colour sailor scene, which took nine hours to complete.
“It’s not about being hard, it’s really great to see unique art being hand-designed,” he said.
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