In 1997, U.S. News and World Report declared the tattoo industry to be the nation’s sixth-fastest-growing retail business, expanding at a clip of more than one new studio a day. But as you can imagine, not all those tattoo parlors are evenly distributed throughout the U.S.
TotalBeauty.com pored through the AAA Tattoo Directory and Tattoo Yellow Pages to calculate the cities with the greatest and fewest number of tattoo parlors per capita. Salina, Kansas, won the award for Least Tattoo-Friendly City. (Salina also landed on Business Week’s 2010 “Best Place to Raise Your Kids” list, which could put it on a collision course given the new craze for mommy tattoos.)
Chilly cities like Anchorage (Alaska), Helena (Montana), Grand Forks (North Dakota), and Sioux Falls (South Dakota) also make a showing for the fewest tattoo parlors per capita. Why bother to get a tattoo when it will hide under bulky winter clothes for most of the year?
Of course, even in the nippy north, not everyone is hiding under their clothes. Portland (Oregon) and Flint (Michigan) rank among TotalBeauty’s Most Tattoo-Friendly Cities, just ahead of Austin. Sunny Miami Beach tops the list
And just as those tattoo parlors aren’t so evenly sprinkled across the map, some Americans are wearing a lot more art than others. Adults in the west (think Portland) are twice as likely as those in the midwest to be tattooed. Half of those with tattoos report more than one, boasting an average 4.7 apiece – a number that’s surely skewed upward by the guy with 60.
Younger generations are more likely than older Americans to be inked. But could the tide be turning?
A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that, while the portion of those who admit to considering a tattoo steadily increases with each new age group, the youngest Americans show the widest gap between those who have thought about getting a tattoo and those who have actually followed through.
Meanwhile, Harris Interactive reports that the portion of all American adults with tattoos declined from 16% in 2003 to 14% in 2008. Those ages 18-24 saw the sharpest slide, a drop from 13% to 9% that puts them in a dead heat with their grandparents.
Like grandma’s tattoo, the allure may be fading.