Dean Jones

Friday, October 5, 2007 | 3:00 p.m. CDT; updated 7:26 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Dean Jones, co-owner of Living Canvas Tattoos got his first tattoo on his 18th birthday, in a Silver Eagle
Tour Bus fashioned as a state of the art mobile tattoo parlor. "It was called J.D.'s Body Art," recalls Jones. "People who didn't know him would ask for J.D. If you knew him, you called him Sam." Since then, he's covered his body in tattoos, hidden under regular business clothes.

Sitting on a lime-green couch in the lounge of Living Canvas Tattoo Body Piercing and Art Gallery, co-owner Dean Jones is a study in contradictions. He’s friendly, he’s polite and he carries himself with an air of casual but deliberate professionalism. But then you notice his ears.

Plugs as thick as ballpoint pens adorn Jones’ stretched earlobes, the only overt indication of his passion for body modification. That is, until he puts on a muscle tee or a pair of shorts.

By his own estimate, 70 percent of Jones’ body is covered in ink. “Tattoos are my first true love,” he says, but he prefers a slightly more clean-cut look when conducting business. So the tattoos stop at his upper arms and lower neck, making Jones appear tattoo-less when he wears pants and a short-sleeved T-shirt.

Unusual? Yeah, he is. But not quite as unusual as you might think.

Body art demographics are changing in Columbia. The bulk of Jones’ clients are still 18-25, but business from older clientele is on the rise, he says, and Living Canvas recently tattooed a 79-year-old woman. He believes this trend may indicate a shift in attitude toward tattoos and body piercings.

“There’s a diehard in me that hopes it will always be counterculture,” he says. But as tattoos increase in prevalence and society begins to see them as a genuine art form, he believes acceptance in the workplace may happen naturally.

“I’d like to see every industry become more tolerant,” Jones says.

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