Every tattoo tells a story

With seven tattoo parlors in a 10-mile radius, Athens is a prime example of the tattoo revolution that has swept the United States. Whether for the sake of art, in remembrance of a loved one or of a drunken night, behind every tattoo is a story.

Larissa Bradford, senior geography major


“To live would be an awfully big adventure.”

“I’ve been obsessed with J.M. Berry and Peter Pan since I was a wee thing,” Bradford says. “But … I’m four years older. … Being obsessed with Peter Pan is a different thing as a little kid than as an adult.”

Did she think about it before she got it?

“Yes, I did actually,” she laughs. “Well, for a couple months at least.”

Bradford waited only months after she turned 18 to get her tattoo, but she says she wouldn’t go back to the same tattoo place again.

“They didn’t take into account that I stretch,” she says, reaching over her head to show the tattoo getting bigger and smaller. “I would change the placement, maybe the wording, but not the words themselves.”



Shawn Hawks, owner Skin Hooked Tattoos


When “tattoo artist” come to mind, Skin Hooked Tattoos owner Shawn Hawks might not be what you’d picture.

Hawks is a former Marine and competitive bass fisher. He has six relatively small tattoos, each with a special meaning.

Skin Hooked has a strict no-drunk-tattoo policy. They also will not tattoo the face. Hawks says he encourages people to draw the tattoo they want in permanent marker and see if they still like it a month later.

“We get a lot of first-time tattoos in here. It’s definitely an act of rebellion, but we try to talk them out of getting  anything that would prevent them from getting a job. We’re here to make money, but I have kids. I have an 17-year-old son who aggravates me every day for a  tattoo and I say, ‘Not until you’re 18.’ Those are the rules I live by.

“I got my first tattoo when I was 18 going into the Marine Corps. Went to some guy’s garage. It looks horrible, but I haven’t covered it up because it’s part of me.”



Yumeng Zhang, junior physics major


Yumeng Zhang and her boyfriend are eating lunch in Ginger when she discusses her tattoo.

“It means fearless,” she explains, taking off her coat to reveal the small tattoo on her back.

Why “fearless?” What made her want this tattoo?

She and her boyfriend talk in Chinese, with him translating and her smiling and gesturing. They snicker at the language gap.

She replies, “I am fearless.”



Trevor Marburger, senior outdoor recreation major


“I’d just like to say for the record that I don’t regret getting this tattoo,” Marburger says. “I regret getting a tattoo, yes, but there are a lot stupider things I could have gotten than a Polo guy.”

Marburger went on to tell the story of how he and a friend dipped out one Friday in high school in hopes of driving to New Orleans. They drove to Atlanta instead and were shown around the city by a homeless man.

“He told us his name three times and each time it was a different name,” he says. “Then at the end of the tour he suggested that if we didn’t pay him he would stab us.”

His story took a sudden turn towards Atlanta’s Alien Touch Tattoo.

“I don’t usually take much care in my clothes, but for some reason I was wearing all Polo that day, and I just thought, in my drunken head, ‘I’m going to get a Polo tattoo!'”



Trisha McCulloch, Decorative Injections receptionist


A simple question, asked at Decorative Injections:  Anyone have a favorite tattoo they would like to share?

One worker deflects the question, saying there’s stocking to be done. Another runs out the door. Literally.

Everyone in the room has several visible tattoos. Anyone have a funny or weird tattoo?

Trisha McCulloch offers to share her newest addition.

“I have a funny one!” she says. “It’s a Boo-bie! I got it on Halloween this year.”

Were you drunk when you got it?

“No. Someone from the shop drew it up a year ago, and I still wanted it.”



Miranda Riddle, senior psychology/physical therapy major


“It’s white ink. Some parts it looks white, and some parts it looks scarred, which I like,” Riddle says, rolling up her sleeve.

“I got it after my uncle passed away. He used to tour with a music group, The New Christy Minstrels … they’re pretty famous with old people. My mom is a singer and she sang for 20 years. They toured around the Cleveland and Toledo area. And I play music.”



Allison Hunter, editor-in-chief WOUB Public Media


“I got this in ’97. My husband — ex-husband now — has the same tattoo. Our love will stand the test of time, just like the pyramids, and the ankh is the symbol of everlasting life.”

“We had names on there. … Then we got divorced. The relationship changed, but our love still stands the test of time. We’re still good friends and we have children. I added our children’s names to the back side of the tattoo because they are the symbol of our love and friendship.”




Jacob Hangman, student services specialist


“It means ‘Judah’ in Hebrew, my son’s name. Judah is considered a biblical name, and in the Old Testament he is introduced as ‘Judah, son of Jacob.'”

Jacob Hangman started getting tattoos as soon as he hit 18. He says he doesn’t mind giving the artist artistic rein when he’s getting inked.

“Tattoos are a very fun but painful hobby to have,” he says carefully. “It’s one of the best investments you can make for your body because it lasts forever.”




Do you or a friend have a tattoo you want to share? Post your tattoo pictures/stories below!


Alyssa Pasicznyk is a senior journalism student in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. When she’s not wielding a camera in people’s faces, you can find her playing with her two dogs or eating Pita Pit. Follow on Twitter @AlyssaPasicznyk.