IF MORE people took the motto “Think before you ink” to heart, Mark Woollven would be out of a job.
But business is booming for the Inverell-based tattoo removalist after cornering a rapidly-growing market.
With an estimated one-in-eight Australian adults now adorned with ink, tattoos are no longer taboo in polite society.
Inevitably, this proliferation of body art means there are plenty of people who, for a variety of reasons, come to loathe their designs.
Sensing an opportunity, in 2012, Mr Woollven left behind his career as an engineer and enrolled in a tattoo-removal course.
He now travels the North West with his laser machine zapping unwanted ink into tiny particles that can be passed naturally by the body.
“It’s really popular for people to get a fade-down, because they’re not unhappy with having tattoos, but it might be that style isn’t fashionable any more,” he said.
“Tattoos now are much more detailed, as the tattooists have got better, and tattoo designs change fashion as well.
“Spelling mistakes in the tattoos is quite a common reason for removal, and even older ladies who don’t want to be (judged) because of their tattoos.
“And because the police are stopping you having (visible) tattoos, a lot of young lads come in to have them done.”
Mr Woollven, who makes regular visits to Tranquillity on Marius to ply his trade, said technological advances meant tattoo removal was more effective and less painful than ever.
He said the number of sessions required to remove a tattoo varied depending on the size, age and intricacy of the design.
“It can be completely gone, but most people consider 95 per cent a good result,” he said.
“Green is by far the hardest colour to get out completely.”