Body Art

The modern-day “Starry Nights” on students’ skin


JoshuOne Barnes

SRJC communications major Carlos Soto displays his tribal tatoo

A black widow creeps along her bikini line, three frogs hop on her back and a tribal design runs down her shoulder. These are the tattoos of former Santa Rosa Junior College student, Leila Pichon, 34.

Pichon is one of many SRJC students decorated with serious ink, all of them with different designs and stories.

For Pichon, the meaning behind her tattoos vary. The black widow she got as a joke. The first frog she got to match a tattoo with her best friend; the other two because she loves frogs. A friend of hers from out-of-state tattooed her tribal design with a single guitar string in a friend’s living room.

Daniel Barkley, 32, has two tattoos on each shoulder. He got them because he always wanted short sleeve tattoos and had his friend design them. He said most people he meets think his art is cool.

For some students, tattoos have a deep, and sometimes spiritual, meaning.

Santos Gonzalez, 21, has two tattoos. For the first, Gonzalez chose to tattoo a rosary on himself. His second tattoo on his right arm is a machine gun camera.

“It’s got smoke on the lens, the film is coming in, bullets coming out. [On top] It’s going to say ‘Respect the Shooter’ because I’m a photographer,” Gonzalez said.

And for some, tattoos can be a sign of rebellion.

Lena Ballard, 18, has a script tattoo on her side that says “No Regrets Just Love.” When she was younger, she never thought she would get a tattoo, until her friend inspired her to get one. She also felt rebellious, because she grew up in a Christian family that doesn’t approve. She thought the meaning was both deep and funny, and she has no regrets.

While all have their different reasons behind their tattoos, they all cope with the stereotypes that come with body art.

Ballard has received negative responses when people find out she has a tattoo. She feels it’s weird when people judge her for the ink on her body, and said her tattooed friends are judged just for having them.

“I’ve had people ask ‘why would you ruin yourself?’ I hate when they do that because I love tattoos,” Ballard said.

Some have told Gonzalez that the rosary is too close to his hand and that he couldn’t get jobs because it doesn’t look professional. However, that has never happened to him. He hopes to add more tattoos, like his baby’s heartbeat or footprints, but does not plan on getting another any time soon.

Pichon has gotten some wandering eyes with her tattoos. She said when she talks to someone while wearing a long sleeve shirt, the reaction’s fine, but when wearing a tank top she notices people staring at her arm and feels judged. The best response she’s gotten is when people stop and admire them, some showing their own ink.

Despite the stigmas of tattoos to non-tattooed, the old adage of once you start you just can’t stop, definitely applies.

Pichon plans to get more ink, like adding exotic flowers around her tribal tattoo, more frogs on her back and hip and the word “Oneday” on her wrist.

Ballard loves both traditional and old-school tattoos, like roses. She plans to get a tattoo on her leg, a rose for each member of her immediate family, with double meaning because her sister’s name is Rose. On her side, she plans on getting koi fish as well as a cherry tree with her grandparents’ names on the trunk and cherry blossoms below her chest and back.

Barkley plans on getting another on his leg of a movie poster from the film “It Follows,” without the text on it. He says getting them didn’t hurt much. The line work felt like someone pushing on him with a fine tip pen and shading felt like a piece of plastic getting pushed into him real hard.

Some parts of your arm hurt more than others to get tattoos on. “That hurts more but it’s not really bad. Your adrenaline kicks in and you don’t feel much of anything,” Barkley said.

A tattoo requires a commitment. While there are ways to remove them, these methods may leave scars.

“[Students] need to make sure they really want [a tattoo]. Gonzalez said. “I’ve seen a lot of people who regret tattoos and later have to cover them up with another one and sometimes it can be something that can’t be covered up.”

Pichon says students who plan on getting tattoos should think it through and not get just anything on their body. She also advises to think before deciding what tattoo to get. “Make sure you get it done by somebody who knows what they’re doing and make sure you get something that you really want,” she said.

Barkley’s advice for students who want tattoos is get them bigger than you would normally would because big tattoos are awesome.

Body art is all the fashion, indelibly marking the personalities of SRJC students._MG_7993_1 _MG_7996_1 _MG_7997_1 _MG_7998_1