Who’s inked at SNU? The significance behind the tattoos

Tattoos can be great conversation starters and an artistic way for self-expression, but safety and permanence are important considerations. (Photo provided by Cindy Benton)

By Ronna Fisher, Assistant editor

It is not uncommon to see collegiate peers with tattoos.  In fact, according to Statistic Brain, in 2012 36% of US adults from ages 18-25 had at least one tattoo. But students are not alone in their ink love. Many faculty and staff are also joining the leagues of inked up bodies.

Jessica Bowie and her father Jody Bowie are two examples. Jessica, a sophomore, and Jody, instructional designer in the Online Resource Center, both have tattoos that mean more to them than a simple accessory.

In an email correspondence with The Echo, Jody explains his multiple tattoos that symbolize love, family, faith, and career.  “I’ve got one that is a kind of Celtic knot that has Michelle’s name below it . . . [It] is symbolic of my unending love for Michelle . . . I’ve got a picture of the Earth from the Moon with a verse from Job below it in Latin that says, ‘He hangs the Earth on nothing.’ . . . [It] is kind of one that symbolizes how science and religion can co-exist while having two different purposes. It’s based on an actual photograph taken from the physics of how the Earth is physically located in space . . . Since I teach/taught physics and astronomy, it seemed a logical subject matter.”

For both Jessica and Jody tattoos are a form of self-expression and identification.

“Tattoos are just a remembrance of who you are right now.  They aren’t for everyone, but for some people it’s just a form of self expression,” states Jessica.

Jody agrees, “It’s simply a way for me to express myself. To be different. I’m from a very conservative background, and it was a way for me to self-actualize. I got my first one when I was about 25, which was about the time I truly began to think for myself . . . “

Dr. Frank Johnson, a professor in Cultural and Communication Studies, also uses his tattoos as a form of self-expression. His tattoo of a road bicycle symbolizes a “commitment to working hard to live a healthier life.”

“I gained 50 pounds over a 10 year period. I have lost 2 pounds since I started biking . . . I like the thought of other bikers looking with envy at my tattoo as I zoom past them. So far, the zooming has not happened.”

While most people do not regret tattoos, approximately 17% of people with tattoos have some regret (http://www.statisticbrain.com/tattoo-statistics/).

Jody cautions anyone who is considering a tattoo, “Two of my current ones are cover-ups of previous ones. Think long and hard about what you want before you do something. It’s pretty permanent. They are very hard to cover and even harder to remove.”

Though many students might only consider price or coolness of their tattoo, both Jody and Dr. Johnson implore students to consider safety and trust in the artist.

“Go to someone you trust, and don’t be afraid to ask to see pictures of previous work.  Also, ask to be able to contact previous clients.  I’ve used five different people, and there’s only one person I’ll use right now,” says Jody.

When asked what is the most important factor when considering getting a tattoo, Johnson replies, “Safety, safety, safety, artistic ability of tattoo artist, safety.”

Tattoos can be great conversation starters and an artistic way for self-expression.  Look around campus; you may just be surprised to see who has a tattoo.  Don’t be afraid to ask about it; almost every tattoo has a story behind it.

Editor’s note: Check out the April 5 issue to see how well you can match tattoos to their SNU owners.