Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Getting Inked Out

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Getting Inked Out

Article excerpt

They ran the gamut -- from Hell's Angels to grandmas, undecided browsers to stoics getting inked in full view of strangers, a young mom contemplating her first tattoo to a man whose body is 80 percent covered in colors. They all rubbed shoulders Saturday at the Inked Out New Jersey convention in Secaucus.

The event, presented by tattoo luminary Mario Barth, had drawn approximately 6,500 attendees by early evening. It featured 300 exhibitors and tattoo artists with portfolios filled with all sorts of potential images, from skulls and zombies to such famous people as Salvador Dali, Jesus Christ and Marilyn Monroe.

Like the myriad tattoo designs on display, those attending the convention, which runs through tonight at the Meadowlands Expo Center, are a reflection of how much has changed in the world of tattooing, Barth says. They were once the domain of sailors and Marines, who got theirs in dingy harbor-town shops, he says. But thanks to the Internet, tattoo-flaunting celebrities and vastly improved technology, tattoos have crossed over.

His clientele has included Lenny Kravitz, Sylvester Stallone, Tommy Lee and Usher.

"Basically, the criticism is gone. Now, people start focusing on the actual artwork," said Barth, whose Starlight Tattoo empire is based in Rochelle Park. "And so, this is a new era for tattooing design."

Mona Sattar, manning the booth for Scott Hill Tattoos in Closter, agreed.

"I think it's become a lot more mainstream, much more acceptable," said Sattar, a graphic designer, as she watched husband Scott Hill tattooing a rhino on a man's thigh.

"You find pretty much everyone has something, even if it's like the size of a quarter."

Debbie Hansen of Paramus conceded there was a time when she would not have thought of getting a tattoo. But then, on a trip to Las Vegas, she stopped at one of Barth's studios there and got a little butterfly tattooed near her waist.

"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing," said Hansen of that decision. …

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