BODY ART or a stupid mistake? A form of self-expression or permanent mutilation? There's no doubt about it, tattoos are an opinion divider. Loved by many to the point of extremity, and frowned upon by many others.

"Tattoos aren't a barometer of what a person's personality and stature are, but an expression of ones creativity and persona."

I remember coming home with my first tattoo.

I can still picture the horror on my mother’s face when she realised it was not, as I had previously lied to her, ‘a tiny rose on my hip’ but instead a large shaded sketch spanning most of my ribs, stomach and hip. What I considered a masterpiece, she considered a disfigurement. She didn't seem impressed when I went on to get two more either.

My 'it's my body and I can do what I want with it' defiant teenage attitude was met with a look that summed up wisdom and she might as well have said 'you'll live to regret it'.

Tattoo FailLive without 'regets'? Think this might be one...

Tattoos are a tricky subject for today's society, particularly when thinking about getting a job. Whilst a potential employer might not specify why they aren't hiring you, if your face or hands are covered in tattoos then it could well be one of the main reasons for a rejection letter landing on your doormat.

In fact, increasing your chances of employability is one of the main reasons for tattoo removal.

John Johnson, of Tattoo Removal Manchester, has seen many walk through his clinic doors in a bid to get a job. "I had a young guy who had a couple of small tattoos on his hands and needed to remove them quickly because he was applying to the police and they do not allow tattoos there," explains Johnson.

'A little rose on my hip''A tiny rose on my hip'Johnson has seen his business grow in recent years as tattoo removal becomes more and more popular. So why are people looking to remove what should have been a lifelong commitment? 

"Due to the increase in celebrity culture tattoos have been getting a lot of media attention due to many getting inked," says Johnson. "This combined with people wanting to be like their idol has meant an increase in tattoos in certain groups of people. This is also evident with younger people when they go away on holiday and get a tattoo when intoxicated.

"From a purely mathematical approach, the numbers tell the story. More people are getting these types of tattoos and there are a lot of tattoo regrets which means people are looking for effective ways to remove their unwanted tattoos. This is where laser removal clinics come in."

Drunken mistakes are bound to be a reason for removal, nobody wants to keep 'Malia 2013' emblazoned across their arm or 'I love Becky' when they can't remember who Becky was. The best holiday tattoo I've ever come across was a girl who'd drunkenly decided that 'insert here' with an accompanying arrow should be tattooed on her lower back above her backside. I'm sure that was a horror of a hangover to deal with, and an interesting holiday souvenir to bring home.

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A work of art or a hideous mistake? Cheryl Cole's recent tattoo divided many.

So drunken sketches aside, are tattoos becoming more of a norm? For some, the answer is still a definite no.

"Even though tattoos are becoming more socially acceptable, there still are prejudices," explains Danny Heeney, a tattooist in Northenden. "I haven't been offered jobs due to my tattoos. Another example is people crossing the street to avoid me and if these people were to get to know me, they'd find I'm a polite and approachable person. Tattoos aren't a barometer of what a person's personality and stature are, but an expression of ones creativity and persona."

Heeney as a tattooist has seen many people walking through the doors wanting to 'get inked' or 'tatted up'. Even with many now apparently turning to having their tattoos erased, as a whole we seem happy to part with our cash for a permanent design on our bodies. "The whole tattoo scene seems to have grown over the past few years," explains Heeney. "I don't know a decent tattoo studio that are struggling, so it seems like a lot of people are still getting tattooed."

That said, are there any tattoos that Heeney would advise us against?

"I'm not saying 'don't get tattoos' I'm just stating that I think, until society completely accepts tattoos and they don't become an issue in a lot of workplaces then some of the future generation need to think about what they're doing before getting highly visible tattoos."

Johnson urges us to be sure of a design before having it permanently etched onto our bodies. "Simply put, try not to get influenced by the media, other people or peer pressure," he urges. "Find yourself first and then if you have had an image of a tattoo you want in your mind for a significant time, get inked. Don't do it on a whim."

Think before you ink, or at least find out who Becky is before getting her name on your skin.

Follow Niamh Spence at @missnspence

If you're considering tattoo removal, contact John Johnson at Tattoo Removal Manchester via their website:

Or contact them on Twitter: @TattRemovalMcr