By Evangeline Fox
Expression at a young age is vital to growing up. When people learn how to be vulnerable from a creative standpoint, they can also learn how to become confident and grow. Tattoos are one of the many ways people choose to express themselves. Body art can hold secret meanings or defining stories which showcase the individual in a deeper way. At a young age, several Arundel students have gotten pieces on their bodies to cater to their own personalities and share a side of them that outside perspectives might not ever know.
McKenzie Meehan, a senior and a star on Arundel’s volleyball court, has a simple lotus flower tattoo next to a Bible verse on her wrist, open for her and all the world to see. The story behind her tattoo is just as beautiful as the art itself. It starts with her middle name, Mei-Len, which is “beautiful lotus” in Chinese. According to McKenzie, it represents “self-awareness, rising out of suffering, patience, and a lot more.” The Bible verse, Luke 1:45, also chips in to the self-awareness theme, as it states, “Blessed is she who believes that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” The placement of the tattoo was crucial for her, because she wanted to see it so it would be a constant reminder of encouragement. Like McKenzie, many other students also have tattoos placed on their forearm.
Senior Mathew Hutzelman has a multilayered skull and dagger tattoo. From afar, you mainly make out the skull with a dagger going through the top with bits and pieces, like flowers, surrounding it. As you get closer, its vibrant color shines and an image of a snake and jewels pop from the tattoo as well. “The flowers represent my mother as well as the jewels; they’re her birthstone,” Hutzelman said. As for the rest of the tattoo, he explains that he got it because he admired its style.
One common theme for students at Arundel who have tattoos is mortality. Seniors Mikey Brewer and Jackson Nicholson (also known as Jackson Dean) have tattoos with completely different styles that represent the same philosophy. Looking at Mikey’s, its main image is of a traditional style grim reaper, and like Mathew’s, it’s full of color. Mikey even joked that “Mathew got the color in his after seeing mine done.” The tattoo also has a rose, which signifies life and how it changes. Mikey had an artist add flames and a cross to the piece to contribute to the whole entity. Overall, the tattoo is appealing to the eye with its clear images and its dynamic colors.
Jackson, known to many for his burgeoning country music career, chose a different direction for his mortality-related ink. Placed on the left of his chest is a massive skull, dressed in a Native American head piece. Its realistic style is black and grey, with hard lines that emphasize every crack in the skull and each line in the feathers. His reasoning for such distinct styling is because of family background and heritage in the Native American culture. Many of his other tattoos follow the theme as well. He even got to partake in drawing some of the designs which ended up on his body.
From a more inspirational standpoint, senior Sarah Post had a beautiful phrase inked on her forearm to remind her of what matters in life. The quote, “Vievere la vita che ami,” in cursive type text, is an Italian quote which means ‘live the life you love.’ “I went through a lot of emotional stress and my mental health was at its worst,” she said. “I was in and out of the hospital; it was such a hard time for me.” So, Sarah got the tattoo to “remind her that life isn’t going the way she wants it to, and that she needs to change instead of making bad decisions.” Her tattoo not only has inspirational meaning behind it, but it also matches with one of her father’s tattoo which is “Ama la vita che vivi,” which means “love the life you live.” The tattoo created a new connection with her father, which she feels is significant because she doesn’t see him as often as she once did.
Similarly, Max Soumah also used his ink to connect with his family. Placed on his right bicep is text containing his mother’s name, Michelle, alongside roses. He reveals that his “Mom is the most important person to me, so I got her name and the rose to symbolize eternal love.” Max’s grandfather also loved roses too, so the tattoo doubles as a tribute to him.
Senior Natalie Clark got a red balloon on her forearm in appreciation of her grandparents. It represents her grandparents because “when they died [her and her family] started writing messages on red balloons and letting them go for their birthdays and anniversaries.” The tattoo also contains the number 26, which represents her 26 cousins.
Aside from the deep-meaning tattoos, some Arundel students sport more playful ones. Senior Josh Sherbert recently got several tattoos for their look; one being a fierce eagle with hard lines placed on the upper inside of his arm, and the other being a dagger that looks like it is going through his skin. He mentions maybe adding color to the dagger later. Josh liked the way they looked, he says, but he also wanted to embarrass his grandma.
As for senior Julia Furmage she was motivated to get hers out of a combination of appreciation for its appearance and its positive meaning. Placed on her ankle is a silhouette of a palm tree, representing her love of the beach. Julia got her tattoo during her sophomore year of high school and is now a senior. She got it at an early age because she always had an admiration for tattoos, and at the time her mother was getting inked as well, so she asked her mom, and it went from there.
Each student interviewed had a good experience in the tattooing process, and say they felt little to no pain. Many of them went to Red Octopus Tattoo for their tattoos and had fun little details, like being able to watch “The Office” whilst getting inked. One of the students described his experience as being “radically fully cool” and having had a good time with the artist. For these students, getting a tattoo meant sharing themselves through an art form that would be with them throughout life. With certain emotions attached to each piece, they are less likely to be regret than a beautiful memory.