Tattoos are no longer looked at as sign of rebellion or a subculture as they once were, but as art. The Atlantic said, “Roughly one in five Americans have one, and that rate is much higher for millennials than their boomer counterparts.”
The process of tattooing or receiving a tattoo can be a ritual to some; you are essentially engraving a symbol into yourself. Today’s society is becoming more and more acceptable to the idea that tattoos aren’t just for convicted criminals or people that are in gangs. Tattooing is an emotional, physical, spiritual and mental experience, and is truly permanent on every level.
People have tattoos for all different reasons and meanings. The 1,000-year-old art form and the stigma against it have started to fade in the workplace, and the enterprise is building.
“Nothing is worse than a poorly planned tattoo,” said Keene State College senior Arian Deihim.
He continued, “I believe that tattoos should reveal something about ourselves; they should be works of art, not rites of passage or rebellion.”
Deihim said he puts a lot of thought into his tattoos. Each line represents a different person who has touched his life, or an emotion that has scarred him in his psyche that seemed to be etched into his flesh.
Deihim has been working on his back piece for the past three years and has had a total of 10 sessions. “The lower half is the Greek titan Atlas. He fought Zeus and lost in the war of the gods and was punished by dooming him to cradle the world on his shoulders for all eternity,” Deihim said.
He represents the crippling loss that Deihim has experienced in his life and the burden of carrying loved ones through their own losses.
“My sister in particular is a gear source of grief for me; we lost our parents early on and it caused her to develop a psychosis that eventually triggered her schizophrenia. It has been very trying on me to try and help her through life since she can’t care for herself, while also trying to deal with my own pain without someone helping me,” Deihim said.
Deihim always knew he wanted a depiction of Atlas on his back, but didn’t know how to represent the world on his shoulders.
“One day after my father passed, while going through his belongings I found a giant book – A Tome of paintings by a Persian artist named Mahmoud Farshchian. His work is hauntingly beautiful, the kind of work that tricks the eye and has hidden faces and symbols. I opened the book to the natural seam of the book, where it stands to reason my father spent the most time looking. The painting I opened to is the top half of my back piece,” Deihim said.
He continued, “It’s an angel and a demon and they are in a yin-yang shape, painting each other onto existence with ethereal lower halves yet to be completed. This part of the tattoo represents my father and mother, all of their good and bad, and the way they spun my sister and I into existence from a spool of cosmic thread. The idea of dark and light is present in my two angel arm pieces as well, and will eventually be tied into the back piece with shoulder sleeves.”
KSC senior Shannon Summers has three tattoos, and said she just recently got her third a few days ago.
Summers first tattoo was a silhouette of a cat. “It had a little red ball of yarn with string that makes a ‘B’ for Brittany. My sister and I got them together. Hers is a different silhouette and her ball of yarn makes an ‘S’ for my name. We got them because we love cats,” Summers said.
She continued, “But the story behind it is we used to have a pair of sibling cats who always went outside together and came back together and would eat together. We would joke how they always looked out for each other and one day neither of them came back. My tattoo symbolizes my sister and how we’ll always be looking out for each other.”
For her, second one she has three lillies, a rose and a cancer ribbon on the side of her ribs. “The flowers are in black and white and the ribbon is purple. It’s for my grandparents on my mom’s side that both passed away from cancer,” Summers said.
For her final one, Summers has “I’ll stand by you” written on her bicep. “I got it done with childhood friend. We used to always sing the song I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders. Then there’s another song Stand By You by Rachel Platten, which we also liked. So hers is a lyric from that song ‘I’ll walk through hell with you’ basically it’s for our friendship. We can go months without actually talking or hanging out but it’s one of those friendships that we know we’ll always be there for each other when we need it,” Summers said.
Like Summers, KSC junior Aliza Guerrero has three tattoos as well.
“Well my first tattoo is on my ribs and it’s in Hebrew,” Guerrero said. She continued, “It says, ‘to the one carried strength, gave love, and shared a passion,’ and it’s for my grandpa. To me it’s a way of expressing the love I had for my grandpa and just a sign of showing that he’s always with me,” Guerrero said.
“My second tattoo is a bull with my zodiac sign, which is a Taurus. It was something I knew I would want eventually, and I mostly wanted it because it represents the type of person I am: strong headed, aggressive, a fighter, etc.,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero said she got her final tattoo with her sister. “My third one was a little random, but it’s three triangles that at each point of intersection of crossing they mean different word,” Guerrero said.
She continued, “And my sister and I thought that each word expressed that type of individuals we are, and they definitely each relate to our sister relationship. The triangles are carved into a maple tree because growing up we had a tree house that was in a maple tree. We felt that, since it was going to be a sister tattoo we wanted something that represented our childhood, as well as something that made us happy when we were younger!”
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