Honolulu consistently ranks in the top 10 most tattooed cities in America, according to totalbeauty.com. A new exhibition at the Honolulu Museum of Art opens Thursday.
It showcases some of Hawaii's best tattoo artists, and links them to a rich tradition of ink here in the islands.
For tattoo artist Billy Whitney, his passion for tattoos has gone through a maturation process.
"It was the subculture, but now it's for the artwork. Before, I just wanted to hang out with punk rockers and criminals as a kid," said Whitney.
Now, his one-time hobby and the work of nine other contemporary tattoo artists are being displayed at the Tattoo Honolulu Exhibition.
But it's his chance to connect with the history of tattoos in Hawaii that's making a bigger impression.
"These are Sailor Jerry original paintings of flash. Anybody who knows of tattooing knows this is awesome," said Whitney.
Sailor Jerry and Don Ed Hardy are just a couple tattoo icons that blazed a trail in the tattoo world, with deep connections to Hawaii.
"In the 1950's tattoos were crude and really basic. Sailor Jerry came around and really made it artistic with details. He made American tattooing what it is today," said Whitney.
The mix of American military, Polynesian, Hawaiian, and Asian cultures has influenced a unique tattoo culture in the islands. The various works of these artists will be on display during the six-month exhibition.