It’s a trend that won’t stop growing. Instead of putting pen to paper, artists now are putting pen to people.
The business of tattoos is not only lucrative, it’s reaching new heights.
“We’re not thugs or rock stars,” explains Bobby Real owner of Cartel Ink in Carmichael. “We’re art-geeks. We carry pencils, not guns.”
Tattooing is a billion-dollar industry nationwide, with about 15,000 shops across America. Nearly 40 percent of 18 to 40-year-olds have at least one tattoo, and with the recent technological advances what can be done on the skin is nothing short of amazing.
“You’re gonna see more people, the general public, demanding high-art … you know, fine-art on their bodies,” says Real. “That’s gonna naturally weed out a lot of the people who simply do this for a quick buck.”
Profits from high-end shops like Cartel Ink are hardly skin deep. Artists routinely charge $100 or more an hour for pieces that can take several hours, over several days to finish.
“You know, we’re about making people happy forever, not just til they leave our shop,” laughs Real. A lot of people just kind of look at it like this hobby that we do. It’s anything but.”