When Alana Swaringen found out COVID-19 vaccines were coming, she wanted to celebrate. She got a tattoo of a smiling Band-Aid, right where she’d soon get her vaccine.
“For me, it’s a reflection of the crazy year we’ve had and a celebration of my strength and what I’ve gone through this past year,” the 22-year-old Syracuse University student said.
When the health care worker gave her the vaccine in the middle of her smiling Band-Aid, she cried.
“It felt like the start of something new, finally overcoming something,” she said. “And the tattoo is a constant reminder of that.”
Despite permanent closings of countless tattoo shops earlier in the pandemic, many that survived told USA TODAY they’ve seen increased interest over the past few months. Increased demand may not be related to the vaccine, they said. Instead, they pointed to multiple factors including stimulus checks, warmer weather and pandemic boredom.
The increase in business isn’t uncommon in the U.S. as spring hits, said Pat Sinatra, vice president of the Alliance of Professional Tattooists Inc., a professional international business league of tattoo artists, studios and apprentices.
“In many parts of the world and especially in the United States, warmer weather increases the interest in getting tattooed,” he said.
Sinatra added: “Also, with the receipt of tax refunds and stimulus checks and assuredly, the vaccine, we all will hopefully return to business as usual.”
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Duffy Foster, owner of Spokane’s Tiger Tattoo, one of the oldest tattoo shops in Washington state, said the increased interest he’s seen since reopening in June is likely due to people being bored.
“With no one going to restaurants, bars, sporting events, or music venues, I believe that tattoos have become the new ‘feel good food,’”