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TATTOO FACTS & STATISTICS





Tattoo Facts & Statistics has been compiled and updated since 1999 and contains the best available data on the prevalence and occurrence of tattooing and basic information about tattoo culture. This information is shared on our web site as a public service and as a resource for those interested in tattoo culture and its study and research. Please feel free to use this information, but also please acknowledge your source, www.vanishingtattoo.com

Emerging from their often unsavoury reputation of the recent past, tattoos have gained increasing prominence in the past decade. Life magazine estimated in 1936 that 10 million Americans, or approximately 6% of the population had at least one tattoo. Harris Polls, done in 2003, 2008 and 2012, shows those numbers at an estimated 16% (2003), 14% (2008) and 21% (2012) of Americans now have one or more tattoos. For a complete breakdown of the Harris Poll numbers and trends, see below.

Thirty-six percent of those ages 18 to 25, and 40 percent of those ages 26 to 40, have at least one tattoo, according to a fall 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center. (see pdf of tattoo poll numbers)

The National Geographic News stated in April 2000 that 15% of Americans were tattooed (or approximately 40 million people!)

Esquire Magazine estimated in March 2002 that 1 in 8 Americans was tattooed.

The Harris Poll done in 2003, estimated that fully 36% of those aged 25-29 had one or more tattoos. The Harris Poll done in 2008 showed that same age group had dropped to 32% with one or more tattoos. The latest Harris Poll done in 2012 showed that same age group has nowdropped to 30% with one or more tattoos.

According to the American Society of Dermatological Surgery, they stated in 2005, that of all the people they treat with laser and light therapy, only only 6% are getting a tattoo removed.

A 2006 a study done by the  Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 24% of Americans between 18 and 50 are tattooed; that's almost one in four. And the survey showed that about 36% of Americans age 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo!

Make no mistake about it, the tattoo industry is hot property. There are an estimated 20,000+ parlors operating in the United States, according to a U.S. News & World Report article, which said, on the average, an establishment is being added in the country every day. The article ranked tattooing as the sixth fastest growing retail venture of the 1990s, right behind Internet, paging services, bagels, computer and cellular phone service.

TATTOO INDUSTRY SPAWNS POPULAR OUTGROWTH

*Search Engine Lycos, ranked the Top 50 search terms every week. "Tattoos" was the third most popular search term in 2002, the fourth most popular search term in 2001, seventh most popular search term for the year 2000, and the eleventh most popular search term in 1999. "Tattoo and tattoos" is one of only seven search terms to never fall out of the Top 50 Search terms in the 199 weeks since Lycos has been keeping track. The other six are Dragon Ball, Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Las Vegas and the WWE/WWF.

*In July of 2002 "tattoos" reached its highest ranking ever, coming in as the number two most requested search term on the internet. "Tattoos" was requested more often than Britney Spears, marijuana or Kazaa, illustrating that skin ink is more popular than "sex, drugs and rock n' roll!"

Lycos dropped the term "tattoos" from it's Poll because the term was so popular. According to Lycos, tattoos rarely drops out of the top ten search terms requested on the Internet and Lycos dropped the term because they wanted to make room for other searches.

Search engine Ask.com found these stats about tattoo searches:

LA fashion week reminds us once again that trends come and go. But, while the Devil may wear Prada, Search Engine Ask.com reveals that tattoos have been stealing the scene as the #1 searched beauty term since 2003. No longer taboo, the popularity of tattoos prove that skin is always in.

-- Virtually every language is searched for in tattoo designs: from Aztec sayings to Russian phrases, but Japanese and Chinese characters/symbols are among the most frequently searched.

-- Location, location, location: Backs rank the highest in searches (lower, upper and all over). But, not far behind: necks, arms, wrists and ankles. Unmentionables also rank high.

-- Angelina's number, choice and types of tattoos rank the highest in the celebrity category. Ask.com searchers are also intrigued by other celebs. Most notably, Nicole Richie, Alyssa Milano and heavy metal
rockers Metallica.

-- As for who searches for tattoos more: given the top five ranked designs, which are tribal, cross, stars, butterflies and fairies, we'd say women.

Check Out Our NEW Vanishing Tattoo Blog!

One in Five U.S. Adults Now Has a Tattoo

Yet over two in five without a tattoo say adults with tattoos are less attractive

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Feb. 23, 2012 -- There is a lot of culture and lore associated with tattoos from ancient art to modern expressionism and there are many reasons people choose to get, or not get, permanent body ink.  A recent Harris Poll looks at the number of Americans who currently have tattoos, and what those tattoos may say about them.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,016 adults surveyed online between January 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive ®

Currently one in five U.S. adults has at least one tattoo (21%) which is up from the 16% and 14% who reported having a tattoo when this question was asked in 2003 and 2008, respectively.  Tattoos seem to be most prevalent in the West — 26% of adults in that region report having at least one — compared to fewer in the East (21%), Midwest (21%) and South (18%).  Adults aged 30-39 are most likely to have a tattoo (38%) compared to both those younger (30% of those 25-29 and 22% of those 18-24) and older (27% of those 40-49, 11% of those 50-64 and just 5% of those 65 and older).  Women are slightly more likely than men, for the first time since this question was first asked, to have a tattoo (now 23% versus 19%). 

Among those with a tattoo, most have never regretted getting a tattoo (86%) and three in ten say it makes them feel more sexy (30%).  One-quarter say having a tattoo makes them feel rebellious (25%), 21% say both it makes them feel attractive or strong, 16% say it makes them feel spiritual and fewer say it makes them feel more healthy (9%), intelligent (8%) or athletic (5%). 

However, among those without tattoos the opinions differ:

  • At least two in five say that people with tattoos are less attractive (45%) or sexy (39%);
  • One-quarter say that people with tattoos are less intelligent (27%), healthy (25%) or spiritual (25%);
  • However, having a tattoo seems to make little difference in non-tattooed people's perceptions regarding strength and athleticism (82% say it makes no difference); yet,
  • Half of those without a tattoo say people with tattoos are more rebellious (50%).

This idea connecting tattoos with rebelliousness is not new, however, it may be waning.  In 2008 among all adults (whether or not they had a tattoo) almost three in ten said that people with tattoos are more likely to do something most people consider deviant (29%) while 2% said people with tattoos were less likely to do something deviant and 69% said it made no difference.  Today, the number of people who say adults with tattoos are more likely to do something most people consider deviant has dropped to 24%, and the number of people who say it makes no difference has gone up, to 74%. 

Looking at some other forms of body art or expression, currently 49% of U.S. adults have pierced ears, which is consistent with the 50% who reported having pierced ears in 2008.  Although ear piercing is fairly common, other piercings are not: only 7% say they have a piercing elsewhere on their body and 4% report having a facial piercing not on the ear.  Only 1% of U.S. adults say that they currently have a henna, or non-permanent, tattoo.

Although tattoos may be gaining popularity (or at least frequency) among U.S. adults, the majority think that one should be an adult before being able to get a tattoo — 84% of U.S. adults say that young people should be between 18 and 21 years of age before they are able to get a tattoo without parental permission.  8% think those 16 or 17 should be allowed to get tattoos and 6% say that the age limit should be 22 years or older.

So What?

Tattoos have long been a hobby for some, and with the recent proliferation of tattoo-related television shows, it seems interest in them may be broadening.  Today 21% of U.S. adults report having a tattoo which is up from previous years.  It seems that with the increasing number of adults with tattoos this permanent body art is becoming more accepted — fewer people think it is related to deviant behavior than before — yet among those without tattoos there are still several negative stigmas associated with having tattoos.  It will be interesting to see how these trends evolve in the future — if more people continue to get tattoos will the negative connotations decline, or will the percentage of Americans with tattoos begin to stagnate or wane and the stigmas hold?

The Harris Poll® #22, February 23, 2012
By Samantha Braverman, Sr. Project Researcher, Harris Interactive

Check Out The World's Hottest 101 Tattooed Men!

TABLE 1
WHO HAS TATTOOS?
"How many tattoos do you currently have on your body?"
(People saying "one or more")

Base:  All Adults

2003 2008 2012
% % %
All Adults 16 14 21
Region      
                East 14 12 21
                Midwest 14 10 21
                South 15 13 18
                West 20 20 26
Age      
                18 – 24 13 9 22
                25 – 29 36 32 30
                30 – 39 28 25 38
                40 – 49 14 12 27
                50 – 64 10 8 11
                65 + 7 9 5
Sex      
                Male 16 15 19
                Female 15 13 23
Race/Ethnicity      
                White 16 15 20
                Black 14 7 21
                Hispanic 18 15 30
Party I.D.      
                Republican 14 13 17
                Democratic 18 15 22
                Independent 12 13 21

TABLE 2
REGRET HAVING A TATTOO?
"Do you ever regret getting a tattoo?"

Base:  Currently Have a Tattoo

  2003 2008 2012
% % %
Yes 17 16 14
No 83 84 86

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

TABLE 3
TATTOOS AND DEVIANT BEHAVIOR
"Do you think people with tattoos are more or less likely to do something most people would consider deviant?"

Base:  All adults

  Totals
2003 2008 2012
% % %
More likely 27 29 24
Less likely 2 2 2
No difference 71 69 74

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

TABLE 4
HOW HAVE A TATTOO MAKES ME FEEL
"Please complete the following sentence: 'Compared to not having a tattoo...having a tattoo has made me feel...?'"

Base:  Currently Have a Tattoo

    More Less No Difference
Sexy % 30 3 68
Rebellious % 25 3 72
Attractive % 21 5 74
Strong % 21 3 76
Spiritual % 16 3 82
Healthy % 9 3 88
Intelligent % 8 5 87
Athletic % 5 6 89

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

TABLE 5
HOW HAVE A TATTOO MAKES ME FEEL - TREND
"Please complete the following sentence: 'Compared to not having a tattoo...having a tattoo has made me feel...?'"
Those saying more

Base:  Currently Have a Tattoo

  2003 2008 2012
Sexy % 34 31 30
Rebellious % 29 36 25
Attractive % 26 19 21
Strong % 16 19 21
Spiritual % 20 13 16
Healthy % 4 4 9
Intelligent % 5 5 8
Athletic % 3 5 5

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

TABLE 6
ATTITUDES OF THOSE WITHOUT A TATTOO
"Please complete the following sentence: 'Compared to people without tattoos, I think people with tattoos are...?'"

Base:  All Without Tattoos                                           

  More Less No Difference
Rebellious % 50 4 46
Strong % 8 10 82
Sexy % 5 39 56
Athletic % 5 13 82
Spiritual % 4 25 71
Attractive % 4 45 51
Intelligent % 2 27 71
Healthy % 1 25 74

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

TABLE 7
ATTITUDES OF THOSE WITHOUT A TATTOO - TREND
"Please complete the following sentence: 'Compared to people without tattoos, I think people with tattoos are...?'"

Base:  All Without Tattoos                                           

  More Less
2003 2008 2012 2003 2008 2012
Rebellious % 57 54 50 2 3 4
Strong % 8 8 8 8 10 10
Sexy % 8 6 5 36 39 39
Athletic % 4 5 5 14 13 13
Spiritual % 3 5 4 29 25 25
Attractive % 4 4 4 42 47 45
Intelligent % * 1 2 31 27 27
Healthy % 1 2 1 21 25 25

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding; * indicates less than .05%

TABLE 8
PIERCINGS AND HENNA TATTOOS
"Do you have any of the following?"

Base:  All Adults                                                               

  Have Do not have Decline to answer
Pierced ears % 49 49 2
A piercing on your body, but not on your face % 7 91 2
A piercing on your face, but not on your ears % 4 94 2
Henna tattoos, that is tattoos that are not permanent % 1 97 2

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

TABLE 9
PIERCINGS AND HENNA TATTOOS
"Do you have any of the following?"
Summary of those saying "have"

Base:  All Adults

  2008 2012
Pierced ears % 50 49
A piercing on your body, but not on your face % 5 7
A piercing on your face, but not on your ears % 2 4
Henna tattoos, that is tattoos that are not permanent % 2 1

TABLE 10
AGE FOR TATTOOS
"At what age do you think young people should legally be allowed to get a tattoo without parental permission?"

Base:  All Adults                                                               

Age Total
1-10 % *
11-13 % *
14-15 % *
16-17 % 8
18-21 % 84
22+ % 6

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding; * indicates less than .05%

Methodology

This Harris Poll® was conducted online within the United States between January 16 and 23, 2012 among 2,016 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us — and our clients — stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600

The Harris Poll® #22, February 23, 2012
By Samantha Braverman, Sr. Project Researcher, Harris Interactive

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