SOCIAL acceptance and new techniques are driving the growth of the tattooing industry with one Gold Coast tattoo parlour more than doubling its staff in just two years.
Phresh Ink, founded by Joshua Kuhne in 2013, tattoos up to 40 people each week, with some of its tattoo artists booked out three months in advance.
"Having a tattoo isn't as frowned upon anymore compared to what it used to be - it has definitely become more common," says Kuhne, 24.
"Even with jobs, more employers are more accepting of people with tattoos and as long as they don't have them all over their neck and face, they don't mind hiring people with tattoos on their arms."
An IBISWorld report indicates the evolution of popular culture has moved tattooing from underground scenes and criminal associations, bringing it into the mainstream as a form of fashion, art and expression.
It also shows the growth in demand for tattoos is driven by rapid advancements in laser removal technologies.
"Even technology and laser removal has done nothing but grow the industry because tattoos are seen as less permanent," says Kuhne. "And you will find that people who do get laser removal, will get another tattoo over the top."
Esteem Medi Spa Gold Coast has invested in a $420,000 PicoSure tattoo removal machine, with Gold Coasters lining up to remove the evidence of a wild childhood or, in many cases, looking for a clean slate.
"There is huge demand here on the Gold Coast because there is a huge number of people on the Gold Coast with tattoos," says Dr Terrence Scamp, practicing plastic surgeon at Esteem Medi Spa.
"Tattoo regret runs at about 60-80 per cent, so two out of three people who get a tattoo wish they hadn't.
"Some of those people wish to change it to a different tattoo but most are either self-conscious about a tattoo or it is something that was cool but isn't now."
Demand for tattoo services is expected to continue to grow over the next five years with revenue forecast to increase by an annualised 2.6 per cent to total $109.7 million in 2019-20.
PicoSure uses pico-second pulses which are 10 times shorter in pulse width than that of the older machines which offer nano-second pulses.
"What is wrong with a tattoo is you have big clumps of ink and your white blood cells can't eat it, it's too big," says Scamp.
"A laser usually treats things by heating them up and they go up in dust, but unfortunately with tattoo ink, the clumps are so large that if you heat them they can heat the surrounding skin too much which can cause a burn, scar or loss of colour.
"The idea here is you deliver the energy in a very short period of time and the shockwave effect breaks it up rather than heats it up."
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