INKED: Tattoos take on a variety of meanings

By on October 17, 2006

Needles, ink, pain, a soon-to-be empty wallet or an upcoming and dreaded parental reaction. Upon hearing the song “Tattoo” by The Who, some can relate to or remember what was running through their minds when first stepping into a tattoo parlor.

Some walked out with a tremendous sense of pride looking at the newest addition to their bodies, while others walked out wondering how long it would be until their parents kicked them out of the house.

“I have always wanted a tattoo ever since I was 13,” junior Ali Quinn said. “But I didn’t really know what I wanted then so I thought I should get something with meaning and symbolized who I was. I got the first one which says ‘Carpe Diem’ with the shooting star over my hip. That was about a year after my dad died and it means a lot to me.”

Quinn’s latest inking came in the form of a lotus flower with two tears flowing from it. According to her, it symbolizes not only the loss of her father, but the loss of Quinnipiac student and friend of Quinn, Ricardo “Rico” Petrillo, who passed away last fall.

“The lotus flower on the small of my back symbolizes growth and development out of a struggle or hard times,” she said. “I got that after the death of Rico. It’s part of my healing process.”

Until recently, it seemed as though sailors and musicians were the only ones that brandished ink. It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that more people began thinking that tattoos were an acceptable trend in American society.

Today, getting tattoo seems to be as common as changing one’s hairstyle. Everyone from the lady down the street to your English professor are walking out of parlors with similar “tats.”

Like Quinn, senior Jay Driscoll decided to take the plunge and get inked for personal reasons.

“As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted a tattoo,” Driscoll said. “My dad has two half sleeves so I’m sure that had some influence on me, too, but I see them as art and a way to tell the story of who you are and your life.”

With four elaborate tattoos, including a Phoenix rising from the ashes on his left arm, Driscoll is no stranger to the commitment needed in getting a tattoo.

“When I first left the parlor I was all excited. But a day or two in, when I got my first one, I was like wow…this is on there forever,” Driscoll said. “I think for some people it’s appealing for different reasons. Some see it as art, some do it to rebel, others like the pain.”

Whether it’s marking a milestone or just plain rebelling against the system, getting a tattoo means something different for everyone. Upon strolling the campus grounds at Quinnipiac one can see an array of designs on the bodies of students, each with its own story.


About Garret Woodward