In last week’s edition of Tattoo Tuesdays, we learned about Zach Luman and the stories behind his tattoos. I got so much positive feedback from students on campus about Tattoo Tuesdays and how much they love the column idea, so I’m looking forward to sharing more tattoos stories with you this semester!
This week, I interviewed senior Rachel Sutton about what her tattoos mean to her, and what she wants everyone to know about the meaning behind tattoos.
Jen Morgan: How many tattoos do you have?
Rachel Sutton: Two – my inner left foot and my ribs.
JM: Where did you get your tattoos and who is your artist?
RS: I got my first tattoo at End of the Trail in Middletown by Eric and my second tattoo at Atom Age in Mechanicsburg by Brian.
JM: Which tattoo hurt the most?
RS: The foot tattoo – I actually jerked away at one point!
JM: What is the most common question you get asked about your tattoos?
RS: “Did it hurt?” or “What do they say?”
JM: What is the most common misconception about people with tattoos?
RS: Probably that someone’s tattoo means one singular thing. I think with tattoos, the meaning evolves over time. It meant one thing when I got it, but it means something entirely different to me now. It’s an ever-evolving meaning that is still progressing.
JM: Which tattoo means the most to you?
RS: The one on my side because it was a very cathartic experience for me, which I was not expecting. It has lyrics from the song “The Adventure” by Angels and Airwaves. I had planned on getting it for a while, and when the day felt right, I just went for it. The physical pain kind of re-sensitized me after feeling numb for a while and to confront some things I had been carrying around emotionally. It was very liberating, and I wasn’t expecting that at all. That’s what made it really beautiful.
JM: What are your plans for your next tattoo?
RS: I made a drawing recently of some song lyrics, and so now I really want it as a tattoo, but it’s still in the works! I think with the next one, I’m just going to listen to when my body is ready so that I can have another powerful experience like with my second tattoo.
JM: Do you have a tattoo playlist? How do you handle the pain?
RS: I didn’t listen to music during either tattoo – only to the sound of the tattoo gun! To handle the pain, I thought a lot about the outcome and how awesome the tattoo would look to keep me focused.
JM: Do you go alone or with friends to your appointments?
RS: I went with one other person for my first tattoo and then alone for my second one. I think you should be selective about who you bring with you, since it’s such a personal experience, and you’ll remember that forever.
JM: What advice would you give to someone considering getting a tattoo?
RS: Don’t be afraid of the imperfections. The tattoo on my ribs is in my own handwriting, and so I think it’s fine to be creative and add your own touch, even if it’s not exactly perfect. This might be difficult to find, but search for a tattoo artist that has a light hand. It makes the pain more bearable than an artist that’s heavy-handed; see what friends recommend. Also, your tattoo artist might make jokes about how you respond to the process, so know that the humor is from a good place and can lighten the mood.
JM: What is one thing you wish everyone knew about tattoos?
RS: The meaning of the tattoo evolves over time. You will experience so much more with your tattoo(s) than you expect as you grow with them.
Stay tuned next week for another edition of Tattoo Tuesdays! Have more questions about what it’s like to get a tattoo? Tweet me @JenMorgan94 – I’d love to answer your questions.
Jen Morgan, Column Writer
Jen is a senior journalism major from Boston. She loves makeup, puppies, cookies, tattoos and magazines, and will never turn down a trip to Sephora or Starbucks.