Proposed Rules Could “Damage Culture Of Proud Tattooed Soldiers”

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Joey Knuckles runs High Street Tattoo in the Short North. "I look at it more as it’s almost damaging a culture of proud tattooed soldiers," he said of the proposed rules.(Photo: joeyknuckles.com)
Joey Knuckles runs High Street Tattoo in the Short North. "I look at it more as it’s almost damaging a culture of proud tattooed soldiers," he said of the proposed rules.(Photo: joeyknuckles.com)

The U.S. Army is considering new rules that would clamp down on tattoos for soldiers, and at least one local tattoo artist fears the new rules could do major damage to the tattoo culture.

The U.S. Army is mulling over the new rules that would restrict such work below the elbows and knees.

“If you’re willing to die for me, I’m more than willing to tattoo you, man,” says tattoo artist Joey Knuckles. He’s been tattooing for 10 years, but he’s been around the business for much longer than that. He grew up watching other artists at work, honing their craft, specializing in classic American folk designs.

Now Knuckles has his own shop, High Street Tattoo in the heart of the popular Short North neighborhood.

He says members of the military were among the first to make tattoos popular in the U.S. and played a major role in developing the culture, especially the Asian-influenced designs.

“You know these guys would travel over there,” Knuckles says, “and either get tattooed over there or they would see people with other tattoos or see tattoo imagery or like the beautiful dragons and stuff like that and come back and those with artistic skill would reinterpret those designs and draw them themselves.”

The new rules would grandfather-in any current soldiers who already have tattoos below the knees and elbows, and service members are reportedly flooding tattoo shops to get one last piece of work done before the rules are finalized.

While that may ramp up business for shops like High Street Tattoo, Knuckles says it’s not worth the long-term consequences.

“Me looking at it like ‘There’s business coming in because guys are getting tattooed more right now because they’re not going to be able to get tattooed much’ is very short-sided.

“I look at it more as it’s almost damaging a culture of proud tattooed soldiers.”

The new rule is under final review. If approved, the restrictions would go into effect about 60 days later.

Comments
  • Ajinomoto

    Tattoos are a sign of alcoholism, sadomasochism, and hard drug abuse.