WAVELAND - During his 32 years in the tattoo business, Jack Donovan has seen major changes - some good, some not so good.
Donovan, owner of Jack and Dianne’s Tattoo Parlor in Gulfport, was the speaker in the PRCC Hancock Center Lecture Series on Oct. 15 at the center in Waveland.
“This will be the beginning of a lecture series we will have throughout the year,” said Raymunda Barnes, PRCC assistant vice president for the Hancock Center.
When Donovan first got into the business, customers were limited to certain groups of people but all segments of society sport tattoos today, he said.
“When I started, they were on the fringes of society,” Donovan said. “It’s totally different now. The oldest person I’ve tattoed was 90. She was in a wheelchair and got the Saints logo, the fleur de lis.”
The woman waited until after the death of her husband, who disapproved, to get the tattoo.
“A tattoo to a woman means much more than to a man,” Donovan said. “They’re more in tune with life.”
Safety in the industry has increased tremendously during his years in business but the wealth of designs available on the Internet has changed the creative nature of the art.
“When you see all those gorgeous pictures on the wall, the artist didn’t do them,” he said. “That’s one reason why we see poorly-executed tattoos. Our repair business has increased many fold.”
Donovan and other tattoo artists used to have to make their own stencils, ink and needles - extremely tedious chores - but quality ink is available for purchase and pre-made, sterilized needles are very economical today.
“There’s no excuse to reuse needles,” he said. “Gloves and needles are huge developments in safety.”
He urged students interested in getting a tattoo to do some research before spending their money.
“Look at portfolios, ask questions,” Donovan said. “Look is very important. Tattoos are ‘the’ look. The problem with that is fashion and looks go out of style. Is it possible that tattooing will become so cool and popular it won’t be cool and popular?”
He wonders about the impact if a major entertainment or sports star starts having tattoos removed. “What happens then,” he asked.
For students interested in becoming tattoo artists, he again suggested plenty of research.
“When I started, the tattoo artist knew every single part of the business,” Donovan said. “With the advent of technology, most of them have zero familiarity with what they’re doing. Tattooing is no different than any business. You’ve got to have a plan.”
Jack Donovan, owner of Jack and Dianne’s Tattoo Parlor in Gulfport, talks to students and staff at the Pearl River Community College Hancock Center on Oct. 15 about the history and impact of tattoos. Donovan was the first speaker in the Hancock Center Lecture Series.
PRCC Public Relations photo