Draw n into the T attoo Culture Anna Galadjian Cultural & Visual Anthropology Dr. Leanna Wolfe 01/13/09 51/50 Tattoo Parlor is located within the city of North Hollywood around eclectic surroundings: a bank, pool table store, a gym, chiropractor , sizzlers restaurant and clothing store.
The parlor is organized as one hallway that has doors to several separate rooms. These rooms allow for privacy to the customers, which is vital in making them feel comfortable. The feeling of comfort is one of the most important needs that this culture strives to satisfy.
Artwork created by the artists at 51/50 surrounds all walls of the parlor adding to the genuine feel of the place. The art has core themes of violence, sex and a sense of freedom. When the members of this culture are under this same roof with all this art surrounding them, it allows for the feeling of togetherness, helping to satisfy the need of establishing close relationships.
51/50 tattoo parlor has affiliations with companies like Monster Garage that adds to their image. Another aspect of the “tattoo” image is gauging the ear (stretching the ear lobe) and the equipment needed for that is sold here. This way, the customers can get the full experience by feeling less and less different from other members and more and more accepted.
When the customer wants a custom made tattoo, the tattoo first needs to be drawn and painted on paper to make sure that it is exactly what the customer is looking for. The use of a canvas, paints and paintbrushes show that tattooing is really a form of art.
One of the artists is mixing paints to create a custom color. His dress shows the standard dress in this tattoo culture: a simple t-shirt, gauged ears, and tattooed skin. This standard dress is shared by all of the employees and many of the customers creating a feeling of unification and of common understanding.
The “chief” tattoo artist works on a customer as part of the ritualistic behavior. It is obvious that a strong connection is present between the artist and customer, which is a very important part of this culture. This aspect again satisfies the need of feeling comfortable, as did the spatial layout of the parlor.
All types of magazines are present in the hallway. These provide information on the outside world that allow this tattoo parlor’s culture to “keep up with the times” by constantly changing. With these magazines, cultural behaviors and ideas are slightly tweaked with each day.
A major part of this tattoo culture is music, which ranges from rock to hip-hip. Music allows for socialization to occur as well as satisfies other needs mentioned before (such as the need to feel comfortable and unified). There also seems to be a subtle attachment to religious figures that, to the church, may seem unusual coming from a tattoo parlor. It just goes to show that all cultures are unpredictable in their own right.
One of the biggest cultural rules here is to give the customer choices, thereby maintaining the person’s sense of individuality in the larger society. There are stacks of notebooks filled with images such as these that a customer can choose from.
This is another example of giving the customers choices, by providing them with information on tattoo removal. This exemplifies that the tattoo culture’s main objective is for its members to be happy with their lives. It shows a great deal of maturity for any culture to realize that its ritualistic behaviors may be a mistake for some people.