BODY ART — DeLand tattoo artist Brittany Arizona, above, is among those petitioning DeLand for a change in its zoning laws regulating tattoo shops like hers. BEACON PHOTO/ELI WITEK


I have been in or near DeLand since 1993, and I have seen a lot of changes. It was such a sleepy little town back in the 1990s.

We used to joke that at least DeLand was a grid, whereas Deltona was a big loop so that all the retirees couldn’t get lost, because they would always circle back to home eventually. I was young(ish) and craved the excitement of Orlando over the sleepiness of Volusia, but it was home.

I’ve loved watching DeLand come into its own, like a shy little poet who finally found her voice. The cafes, the ice cream shops, boutiques and art are everywhere! I discover some new little artsy piece nearly every time I come Downtown. They are like Easter eggs just waiting to be discovered.

I love that the store owners know each other and know us. We wave to each other as we pass by on our way to coffee, lunch, dinner, ice cream or shopping. We know each other’s children by name and love to remark on how they’ve grown or “Say hi to your mom for me!”

DeLand has really blossomed. Inevitably, there have been growing pains; pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable, disagreements about our future, and some blemishes (the teen years are never pretty). DeLand is still growing and, for the most part, doing a damn fine job of it. She has found her path and is coming into her own.

The leaders of our sweet little town have done a good job over the past few decades of loosening the apron strings and allowing DeLand to become her own entity with her own personality. She is very different from her sibling towns Deltona, DeBary, Orange City and DeLeon Springs. She is the artsy, free-spirited daughter of Volusia County.

Sometimes, however, it seems our sweet DeLand’s Guardians of the Good Ol’ Days try to push back and force DeLand to “blend in,” to “be more like we remember back in our day!”

I guess some parents have a hard time understanding that change is inevitable and that all things grow, change and become their own individual selves.

DeLand is art. Art is DeLand. Whether it’s music, theater, sculptures, murals, painted rocks, culinary art, artsy cocktails, indie markets, or body art, DeLand is art.

To keep on the books an antiquated and absurd ordinance preventing Downtown DeLand from including every form of art is just pure spitefulness from the powers-that-be who don’t like that their dear sweet little DeLand is no longer the quiet and subdued DeLand of their youth.

These same Guardians of the Good Ol’ Days are perfectly OK with having vape shops with ugly neon signs and public cannabis-consumption dispensaries on “America’s Mainstreet.”

These eyesores are accepted with open arms, but an artsy little tattoo boutique is considered taboo? I call BS.

Some of the Guardians of Old DeLand need to consider retiring. Maybe they should go enjoy rocking on their porches, polishing their rifles and telling stories of the good ol’ days when women stayed home, men never cried, and only gang members got tattoos.

DeLand isn’t your vassal anymore.

— Adesso lives in DeLand.


    • Yeah but people are permitted to live on the park benches. And not punished for yelling sexual comments to would be shoppers or tourist, Smh. Yes a tatoo shop would be awesome.

  1. I agree. I born and raised in Lake Helen & I actually tattoo myself, though not a professional at it. But it is an expression of art. It doesn’t make you a hoodlum an/or a nuisance to society by any means. I’m All For It! If downtown can have Bars on every corner, then what the heck’s wrong with a tattoo shop in downtown? Give me a break, much bigger fish to fry than to worry about such meaningless things.

  2. It’s beyond my understanding why anyone would decorate, mutilate and debase their body with senseless diagrams, pictures ad nauseum. No one needs a downtown spot for these shops

    • If you don’t want tattoos don’t get any. It’s a violation of people’s first amendment rights of free expression to make that choice for them. You seem old and out of touch with reality.

    • You state, “decorate, mutilate and debase” which is a judgemental assumption of the motivation behind a personal choice. You identify this form of self-expression as “senseless diagrams, pictures ad nauseum” when in actuality more often than not, there is a reason behind the choice and the image is symbolic of a momentous event in the life of that individual. Beauty lies within understanding.

  3. Wow I did not know that about DeLand..I’m an old fart and don’t have a tattoo on me, though I would like one…why is it taboo..I think it would be a welcome place and a perfect area for such a shop

  4. I love your article and you’re totally right! 5 year olds can cross busy intersections by themselves to “go to school” yet you can’t leave a 5 year old “home alone”because they’re “too young” ….. basically everything is hypocritical….I am pro old school DeLand and PRO ART AND TATTOOS! What’s good for the goose is about to be GREAT FOR THE GANDER!

  5. I too believe that there should be a tattoo shop. As you said,they have all these cannabis stores now,why no tattoos. I have lived here for 34 years now and lone Deland. It has grown into a great city since I came and has added so much to the downtown. I don’t see a reason why they can’t add a tattoo parlor

  6. Another young person pushing grandma off the cliff after grandma and grandpa built and maintaim a beautiful vibrant town. Get involved and push for your visions, like grandma and grandpa did! Instead of telling them its time to go away. Get YOUR hands dirty doing the work required for constructive change. Newsflash! Its not just old people that might have the audacity to see things differently. And it is attitudes like this which show the shallowness of a generation.

    • Young people are pushing for their visions. What do you think this article is? Everyone working downtown has tattoos; business owners downtown and our local officials have tattoos. Change is happening right now so become comfortable with it.

    • I’m actually an actively involved 50 year old “grandma” who works diligently in several non profit, community based organizations in DeLand and as well as a resident since 1993. I also do not have any tattoos, nor do my husband or my kids. Just because you don’t personally choose something does not mean you should limit others from having a choice.

  7. I could care less if DeLand has tattoo establishments.

    You can’t change people’s bad decisions. If they want to cover there bodies in graffiti, go ahead. It’s sad that people who live paycheck to paycheck are so many. I have spoke with many that have restaurant jobs, yet they drink expensive IPA’s, have many tattoos, yet borrow money from check cashing stores to make ends meet. Our issues in society won’t be changed by tattoo parlors exclusions.

    We are doomed to a culture of nonsense.

    FYI. to those wanting tattoos, the reasons you choose your body art will fade away, they reasons don’t wear well with time, neither does your body art.

    • So if I get a tattoo for a family member that passed away that reason will fade away? What are you even saying here? People can spend their money on what they want. Stop trying to tell people what they can do with their own bodies when you know nothing about it.

  8. I am not tattooed nor have any body art. As a 57 year, if a Business that provides what people want and that are not illegal and can follow the building codes and city laws, I don’t see why this is an issue? The old guard may still be stuck with the mindset that Establishments that offer tattoos and body piercings attract riff raff and undesirables. That may be true at times but overall, I doubt it. Yea, I agree with this Guest Commentary and let the “Free Market Place” decide.

    • Thank you Nat. I’m also a non-tatted 50 year old woman. I own a business, and work with many community based non profits in town to work towards a better tomorrow. I completely agree with you. It’s time to look past these outdated and misguided preconceptions of body art. I’ve seen some beautiful work over the years. Hasn’t changed my mind about wanting a tattoo, but I have definitely grown in my views about the people who both do the art and wear the art. They aren’t gangs, or ex cons. They are doctors, and teachers. They are artists, and business owners. It’s time to accept art as art.


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