College students use their clothes or style to express themselves, although many University of Maine at Presque Isle students are using a different form of art to show off their personalities with tattoos. Tattoos are not just permanent ink on someone’s skin. Tattoos can focus on student spirituality or symbolize something in their life. Tattoos can also represent a meaningful moment or story from student lives. Several UMPI students shared stories behind their tattoos and what they mean to them.
Zach Amnott, a sophomore at UMPI, has one tattoo on his left arm. “My buddy Alfredo knocked on my door and said, ‘Hey, I am going to get a tattoo. Will you come with me?’ I agreed. I went with him to get his and got mine at the same time. I only had about a half an hour to think about it,” Zach said. Zach said he does not regret getting his tattoo and hopes to get another, but with a little more preparation. A spontaneous moment led Zach to get a tattoo last minute, but many other UMPI students went through months of arrangements before getting their first tattoo.
Sophomore Ana Diaz has two tattoos. She has coordinates on the back of her right elbow and another on her forearm. “The coordinates on my elbow are for my hometown, so I always remember where I come from. The ocean, palm tree and compass are in a diamond on my forearm, which represent home. The compass in the tattoo matches the one my brother has, which means that no matter how far we are from each other, we’ll always find our way back to one another,” Ana said.
Whether a student’s ink is simple or complex, each tattoo is unique. A variety of tattoos can be used to express someone’s feelings or passion. Words can be used, from song lyrics or quotes. Pictures of symbols can also be displayed on a student’s body to represent a certain person or moment from their lives.
Alyssa Merone, an UMPI sophomore, has two tattoos: one on her forearm and the other on her bicep. The tattoo on her forearm is the word strength with a rose. The second is a wave and a palm tree, representing her love for the beach. “My strength tattoo means a lot to me. The word strength is a symbol of the strength I have throughout all my weakness. As long as I have strength, I can get through all the hard times in my life. The rose is a symbol of my grandma who passed away when I was 4. Rose is also my middle name,” Alyssa said.
Jessy Devoe, a junior from New Canada, has three tattoos. Jessy has a tattoo behind her ear, one on her bicep and another on her wrist. “I got ‘I love you’ on my bicep in my dad’s handwriting because I am very close with him. We do everything together. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and the idea just popped into my head. I had him write I love you with a heart next to it and surprised him a week or so later with it,” Jessy said. “He is not one to show emotion, but you could tell he was really touched by it.”
Tiffany Smith, an UMPI junior, has four tattoos across her body. “I got my first tattoo when I was 18. I’d been planning it for months and doing research because I wanted to get it on my foot. This tattoo is of my favorite Bible verse and it runs along the side of my right foot in black script,” Tiffany said. Her interest in zodiac signs and constellations drove Tiffany to get a second tattoo, her Scorpio sign behind her right ear. “I got it because, in a way, it signifies my essence. I’m a spiritual person and it reminds me of my birthday month and that I am always me in this great big universe,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany’s third tattoo is on her right wrist. “It’s the first tattoo that I got spontaneously. Some of my family came up from Alaska, including one of my cousins. Myself, my cousin from Alaska and a few of my other cousins from home decided that we should get tattoos that day for no reason, other than that we were all together. All my ink is sentimental to me and this one, despite being spontaneous, is no different because it’s attached to a memory,” Tiffany said.
Her fourth tattoo is a rose on her back. “The rose is my biggest tattoo. I think it’s about nine inches long and five or six inches across on the flower part. This one is in color and definitely the most painful tattoo I’ve had. It took 1 1/2 hours, but it was worth every minute,” Tiffany said.
In a society where tattoos can be seen as unprofessional or inappropriate, students show off their ink with confidence and power. Whether they are symbols or messages being told through ink, all of these pieces of art mean something to the people who bear them. When they look at their tattoos, they are reminded of a certain moment or story from their lives that brings them joy or strength.