Ten pieces of 8x6 pig skin costs $10.49 on Amazon. Who would want pig skin you might ask? Tattoo artists.
Today, about 38% of Americans aged 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo. This uptick in popularity can be attributed to millennials and Gen. Z’s as the rest of the tatted adult population in the U.S. is comprised of only 15% for men and 13% for women.
But, what does it have to do with the environment?
Behind the artistic beauty lying indelibly in your skin, a tattoo is derived from various animal products in addition to being practiced on pig skin. From incorporating glycerin from animal fat for pigment and charred animal bone for black ink, tattoos are not that animal friendly. But, is it eco-friendly? A single tattoo session requires single-use plastic stencil paper, sterilizing equipment, and disposable razors for some areas. In short, no it is not, but there are alternative green studios as well as artists who are seeking to save the lives of pigs!
Vegan Tattoo Studios champions a community of vegan tattoo artists by matching clients to their green studios. They even provide artist information, sample designs, as well as details on the process and informative articles on the practice. The goal of these green studios are not only to be animal friendly but to also minimize waste through renewable energy, reusing and recycling formerly disposable items (in a sanitary way), and going paperless.
Additionally, other artists have decided to tattoo live pigs in an effort to vocalize animal rights. The first artist, Andy Feehan, tattooed a set of wings on a domesticated Chester White piglet back in 1977 for this very purpose.
“I wanted to extract them permanently from the pig factory.”
Feehan article in Artlies magazine, 2000.
Wim Devoye continued this tattoo mission when creating an Art Farm in Beijing in 2004.
“When visitors turn around the pigs, observe it, I am happy. I feel like I’ve given them back their dignity.”
Devoye interview, 2007.
Not only is Devoye expressing the beauty of a pig typically associated with dirty, greedy, and glutenous traits, but he is also opening up a new market. These pigs are bought by tattoo artists to practice on, and as they grow, new skin also grows as well! Although some animal rights activists might find this controversial to tattoo a live pig, thus causing some discomfort and pain to the pig, this market is also keeping the pigs alive as their inked skin is not fit for pork consumption. Pigs outsmart dogs and have the same IQ level as our closest relatives, chimpanzees, so why not save them one at a time with tattoos! Ink Oink!