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Tattoos: form of expression for college students

Posted in Piercing News at 6:58 pm by admin

1.jpgSome artists use a blank canvas, others a drawing pad or a pottery wheel to create something to express their creativity.

However, the growing palette trend of artistic expression has become the human body.

“I think it shows individuality and creative expression to the individual,” third-year English graduate student Lori Beth DeHertogh said.
Thornton says people decide to get a tattoo for an array of reasons.

“They get tattoos to remember someone who has passed away, or to remember a certain time or place,” Thornton said.

For DeHertogh, the hummingbirds on her back remind her of early childhood memories in North Carolina.

DeHertogh has four tattoos on various parts of her body and is not alone in expressing her artistic ingenuity.

In 2006, the American Academy of Dermatology found that 24 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 were tattooed. That percentage is equivalent to almost one in four.

Mike R. Thornton, a tattoo artist at Ink Link Tattoo & Piercing on King Street, estimates that with all tattoo artists combined, Ink Link sees around 200 students per week.

Most of these students are freshmen and sophomores, Thornton said.

Thornton has been a tattoo artist for 28 years and has owned and held positions at various establishments in Gastonia, N.C. and Tampa Bay, Fla.
“…I grew up in this area and I saw hummingbirds at my grandparents, feeding on the birdfeeders,” DeHertogh said. “So I sort of grew up with the image of these really cool, little energetic birds, so I always wanted a tattoo of one of them.”

Some other students use the process of getting a tattoo to unite an inner journey with an outward expression.

“I felt like I wanted to bring a physical change, as well as a mental and emotional change, back from New Zealand,” senior psychology major David S. Grove said.

Grove studied abroad in New Zealand during the 2006 spring semester.

“I really didn’t want a tattoo until I found something that really meant a lot to me,” he said.

The word ‘tattoo’ comes from the Polynesian word ‘ta’ meaning “striking something” and the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ meaning “to mark something,” according to

Tattoos have had a transforming reputation and an origin that dates back to over 5,000 years.

According to the Smithsonian Magazine in Washington, D.C., the first evidence of tattoos was in Egypt on several female mummies.

The American view of tattooing emerged in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. At first tattooing had a negative connotation but has transformed dramatically since the 1960s, according to

“Negative views on tattooing are very old school. Everybody once looked at people as bikers if they had tattoos,” Thornton said. “[Tattooing] has come a long way since it evolved 20 years ago. Now it’s a form of art – just body art.”

The bearer of three tattoos, sophomore undecided major Michael S. Roberti, believes some students take tattoos too seriously.

“More often times or not, it seems like people have some sort of taboo against tattoos,” Roberti said. “I mean that’s understandable but really, it’s art. So why not get art for art’s sake?”

However, DeHertogh has a different take on weighing the decision to go under the needle.

“I think it’s up to the individual. And I think you shouldn’t just get a tattoo because you think it’s cool or the thing to do while you’re in college,” she said. “You should get it because you want it.”

Thornton advises a student to never settle on their tattoo design, but to get something they really want.

“The ones who settle are the ones who regret it,” he said.

College students may want to think carefully about the placement of their tattoo when considering future career choices.

“Think about professional implications,” DeHertogh said. “If someone is in college to get a degree in business and then they get a big ‘ole arm band tattoo, it might be harder for them to go work in a law firm or accounting firm or something like that.”

Grove suggests placing your tattoo somewhere you won’t see everyday.

Some professionals already working in their careers are already sporting tattoos, covered or uncovered.

“An assortment of people are receptacle to it,” Thornton said. “I’ve tattooed police officers, judges and pro-baseball players.”

Society may judge students who are willing to bare their ink to the public.

“Socially they do affect you. I get a lot of the same reactions,” Roberti said. “A lot of times parents will hold their kids closer when they see you. They think you’re going to tattoo their kids or something, but tattoos aren’t contagious.”

Ink Link Tattoo & Piercing is an east coast chain and going on its fourth year of establishment in Boone.

According to an article in U.S. News and World Report, a tattoo establishment is being added to the country almost everyday.

Americans should not see a change in the steady growth of tattoo art, especially with so many satisfied with their decision.

“Do what makes you happy. If tattooing makes you happy, get one,” Thornton said. “It’s not bad. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something that a lot of people can’t.”


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