"Any part of the body can be tattooed," said Chris Jordan, artist and owner of Magic Skin Tattoo.
Matt Findlay of Greencastle went to Jordan's shop Saturday for his ninth tattoo -- an eagle tearing through the skin on the calf of his right leg.
Findlay says having his body inked is an "anti-drug."
"I don't do drugs or party, so I spend my money on tattoos," he explained.
Humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. These permanent designs -- sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate but always personal -- have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment.
The stigma of tattoos started to change during the 1960s, when celebrities -- particularly women -- began inking their bodies. It is more accepted today and places tattooists in the category of "fine artists."
Mikey Jones has been using skin as a canvas for nine years and is a tattooist at Design Line Ink. It began for him through the hobby of drawing, which is something he has done since the age of five.
"It is a lifestyle," he says.
Drawing, too, runs in the family of Dan Modesitt, a tattoo artist at Design Line. Their favorite tattoo is one drawn free hand because it gives them creative freedom. Jones was a mentor to Modesitt and the pair do all they can to perfect their craft.
"We were those guys in high school who drew on their notebooks," said Tim Wells, a current piercer and artist-in-training at Design Line.
Beginners are encouraged to take a course in Occupational Safety and Health Administration bloodborne pathogens and cross contamination and disease transmission through Red Cross.
Gary Evans, owner of Design Line, says customers need to be aware of their right to receive a tattoo without worries of contracting hepatitis or other blood diseases.
In Putnam County, the health department does not inspect tattoo shops on a regular basis. The biggest challenge for Evans and Jordan to open their shops was zoning.
Jordan says he wishes the "board of health was more involved than they actually are."
Suggestions for identifying a good artist are look for a portfolio; clean shop, tools and one-use needles; and certificates in bloodborne pathogens, cross contamination and disease transmission.
Magic Skin Tattoo is located at 1011 Indianapolis Road. Jordan, who is the only artist and piercer, started it in 1999. The front of Jordan's business is a coffee shop with free wireless Internet.
"I love coffee," he remarked at the idea of having espresso and tattooing in the same shop.
Design Line Ink is located at 1149 Indianapolis Road. They offer piercing by Tim Wells and tattoos by Modesitt and Jones.
Evans started Design Line in August of 2004.
"The idea started because Putnam County needed one (tattoo shop) with a good group of people tattooing," Evans said.