Honored in ink


Feature Photo by Tyson Jamieson

Nikol Slatinska

Tattoos constitute symbols of significance to owners

As the artist’s needle scrawled away on her upper back, junior Jacy Highbarger knew she would have no regrets over the tattoo she was getting to honor her late father. Now she is the third person in her family with the morel mushroom emblem; her mother and aunt have nearly the same one in different locations. For Highbarger, the decision wasn’t just a last minute 17th birthday present.
My dad designed the actual tattoo. I’ve always thought about getting a tattoo to sort of honor him, and I’ve wanted the morel specifically for at least two years,” Highbarger said. “When my dad was alive, he really loved hunting morel mushrooms in the woods, which is something I love to do as well, so it just fit perfectly.”
Highbarger, who decided two years ago to wait until she turned 17 to get her tattoo, encourages others to do the same and avoid getting a permanent inscription on a whim. Most tattoo parlors, like Iron Tiger, do not recommend minors to get tattoos but will allow it under certain circumstances.
Iron Tiger, located on 11 North 10th Street, employee Gabe Garcia said getting a tattoo is a decision that can only be made by the person wanting the tattoo and their parent or legal guardian. Proper paperwork must be filled out and filed before the procedure can take place because the artist will not tattoo anyone under the age of 18 without proper documentation.
“If you are a minor with proper documentation, we may still refuse to tattoo you depending on certain factors,” Garcia said. “The tattoo must be tasteful, able to be covered by a Tshirt and in an appropriate area of the body for a minor. If you are under the age of 16 we won’t even consider tattooing you even with proper paperwork.”
Jessie Felix, an employee at Tattoo You, which is located at 1204 Rangeline Street, said tattoos are not for everybody, and getting something so permanent is a huge decision.
“Our advice to anyone thinking of getting a tattoo is to make sure it is something you can live with forever, make sure to go to a tattoo shop that has a clean and sterile environment, and make sure you look at portfolios and inspect the artists’ work to make sure they produce the style and quality of work you desire,” Felix said.
Senior Grace Jonas, who also has a tattoo, has the same advice. She stresses the importance of remembering that once a tattoo is imprinted on the body, it’s there for the rest of its owner’s life.
“Don’t get something on your body just because it’s your 18th [birthday] and you’re feeling spontaneous or rebellious,” Jonas said. “There are people who would say, ‘Don’t get a tattoo that means something, get something that looks cool because looking cool will never lose meaning,’ but if you want a tattoo, don’t just get one with meaning, get one with a lifelong meaning.”
Jonas knew her mother would always be important to her, which is why she got a tattoo on her ankle that says, “Bless Your Beautiful Hide,” the title of a song from the 1954 musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The song is significant to her because it reminds her of her mother, who had a breast cancer scare the summer of 2016 and previous health issues.
“My mom and I have had a routine before we go to bed, which we have done since I was very young,” Jonas said. “She will come in and kiss me goodnight and say, ‘God protect you through the night,’ and I repeat that back to her, and then she says, ‘God bless your beautiful hide,’ and again I repeat it back to her. It’s the way we say goodnight and ‘I love you’ all at the same time.”
Meaningful tattoos don’t just include those that honor loved ones. Senior Kailey Miller chose to get one of a quote from her favorite book, The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Etched onto her upper thigh, it reads, “One must understand all,” representing Miller’s love of learning and reading as well as the mentality that has guided her through most of her life.
Miller and Jonas both got their tattoos for their 18th birthdays, although Jonas had to wait a month after her birthday to get hers because she promised her director she would get it after the RBHS fall musical. She had no problem with that, especially since she wants to become a teacher and will possibly have to cover the tattoo for her job. Highbarger also took that into account before getting hers. Luckily, she knew what she wanted going into the process, but Miller advises those thinking about getting a tattoo to do their research.
“Make sure you’re getting [the tattoo] at a registered parlor and from an artist whose style matches yours. Don’t do a walk-in, especially for your first,” Miller said. “Have a consultation beforehand to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want and that you trust the person who’s doing it. Also, remember you’re getting what you pay for. Tattoos can be expensive, but they’re going on your body forever, so they’re worth the investment. You don’t want a $25 tattoo.”
Going along with Miller’s suggestions, Garcia advises potential clients to make sure their desired tattoos are something they can wear forever and to choose a style that is timeless, with clean lines, bold but smooth shading and vibrant, saturated colors.
“Tattoos make a bold statement. Do not be surprised if someone judges you negatively for having them. Some people are not meant to have them and that’s okay. Moreover as a young person it may be difficult to see where your life will take you.  We strongly recommend that anyone who does not know what type of career field they intend on going into to please get tastefully-placed tattoos from reputable artists in easy to conceal areas of the body,” Garcia said. “When you are solid in your career, know the requirements regarding having visible tattoos and know that they won’t negatively affect your career path then please, cover yourself in tattoos. Until then, be responsible with your body. Nothing is less cool than having a horrible tattoo.”