By Randy Schafer – Associate Editorself-expression. No one is going to have the tattoos I got in the same place,” said Jermaine. (Bottom left) Future GPC student Maggie Voigt with her blanket of stars side piece. (Bottom right) Alpharetta stu- dent Aaron Highsmtih representing his chest arm and side tattoos. “I have a tendency to blow through my money and at least this way I have some- thing to show for it,” said Highsmith jokingly. (Photos by Randy Schafer)”]”]
Whether it’s homage to a deceased loved one, a tribal armband, calligraphy, or a piece of comedic value, students’ skin is becoming more and more etched with ink.Tattoos becoming a social norm or remaining socially taboo can be debated by GPC students and society alike, day in and day out. For now, it seems many students have taken the needle and ink filled path without cause for alarm.
“It’s not just for hookers and sailors anymore,” said Southern Star Tat-too artist Bill Conner.Among the tattoo-clad GPC students of each campus, the perspective on getting tattoos resonates with their outward appearance; it’s a form of permanent art that is a conduit of their self-expression. “I get them because they mean something to me,” said Dunwoody student Leslie Rock. “I think it’s beautiful to have permanent walking art.”
“Everything on my skin is about me, there’s a story about every piece that’s on me,” said Alpharetta student Tina Weatherly.You walk into any tattoo shop and you will be welcomed by the buzzing of tattoo needles, music blaring in the background, and the smell of antiseptic and lotion. Most likely you’ll be greeted by tattoo artists predominantly covered in ink from head to toe and customers rifling through tattoo pictures and cracking jokes with one another. Imagery such as this is, can be found with the same color and candor at Southern Star Tattoo in Atlanta.
“The thing I like best about working in a tattoo shop is that everyone is equal. You can have doctors and lawyers rubbing elbows with gangsters and criminals and nobody’s above anybody else,” said Southern Star Tattoo artist Keet D’Arms. D’Arms also commented on the stigma related to tattoos. “There’s always been a criminal element or an outsider’s society… I remember a time when having your forearms tattooed you were crossing a line and saying ‘I’m not like you’,” said D’Arms. With tattoos growing in popularity, some people may question if getting tattoos is addictive. Some students say the pain of getting ink is a rush; others say that once you get one tattoo you keep getting more ideas. “It’s like potato chips and sex, you don’t want to stop after you start,” said Conner. “If you could just slap on a tattoo like a sticker, I don’t think it would be as important, you got to earn it… It seems like you want it more and more after you test the waters.”