Behind the Ink: Tattoo Art Around THS

I acquired my first tattoo at the age of seventeen.

It was a dark, cold January night. I sat in the kitchen of a friend who did tattoos on the side. I was nervous.  Not nervous of the permanence, but of the pain. The kitchen was decorated with roosters and sunflowers; it looked like your typical granny kitchen. What wasn’t typical was the buzzing of the tattoo gun. Thirty minutes later, I had a new addition to my body: my deceased mother’s signature written on my chest. I decided to get this tattoo so I could be reminded even more, every day, of my mother. I often say jokingly, “My mom had to sign this work of art she created.”

DeVaughn’s Mic. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn.)

I recently got a second tattoo of a microphone on top of a music staff. To me, this represents my love and passion for music and the mic represents my love for rap and lyricism. I got this because I want my love for music to be broadcast to the world. I feel it’s a constant reminder of what I want out of music.  My newest ink really made me start to think about other people’s ink at Talawanda. A handful of people, both instructors and students, have tattoos. Since receiving my new ink, It made me think about why people permanently mark their skin.

Sophomore English and speech teacher Ashley Sammons has more than 10 tattoos, the exact number not disclosed.

Many people get tattoos because they are addicted to it. However, tats do something other than feed an addiction for Sammons.  “I do not like the process,” she said.  “I use tattoos to remember someone or something important in my life.”

Sammons’s Heart and pins. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn.)

One tattoo Sammons has is a heart with pins, a matching tattoo she got with her deceased husband. “It’s a design from a Tim Burton book. He got it first.  He loved Tim Burton,” she said.

Sammons’s first husband, Casey Calvert, died in 2007 after only being married a short time. She said the heart tattoo now serves as a reminder of him.

After some time she got remarried and had a daughter.  Now, she is planning on more tattoos. “I plan on getting more, one for my husband, and a few for my daughters.”

One would assume having all of that ink would gather looks at work,school or on the street, but Sammons said, “I don’t hear anything at work, but once my husband and I were swimming and an old couple were speaking of how gross tattoos are, and they didn’t know why young people would do that.”

Sammons’s Lady of Guadalupe. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn.)

On the back of her leg, Sammons has “Our Lady of Guadalupe” depicted.

“We went on a class trip to Mexico,” she said.  “I got to see the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She’s a strong female figure, plus I’m Catholic.”

Sammons’s Cross. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn.)

The first tattoo Sammons got is of a cross located on her foot. “I got this when my high school principal and longtime family friend died in a car accident. He was also a priest.”

Aside from  being an awesome teacher, Sammons’ tattoos make her unique. She’s the only teacher I’ve had that has over ten tattoos.

But, Sammons isn’t the only one at Talawanda with tattoos.

Caroline Millard, student teacher at Talawanda, has one tattoo. She got it after high school while attending college. “I got it because my parents wouldn’t let me in high school.”
It has the saying “Ezer Kenegdo,”

which is Greek for “God is the counterpart of man.”

Millard’s Tattoo. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn)

Millard often jokingly says it means, “Get rich or die trying.” The fish in between the text is pretty much just a fill in.  “The text was too small and it was going to bleed together, so [the tattoo artist] suggested to put an image to separate the words, and my friend was getting the Icthus fish.  I got it,” said Millard.

Millard wants another one, but she believes you should really think about it before you get it. “If you think you want one,” she said, “draw it out, place it in a box and leave it for five years. If the picture appeals to you still, get it. If I didn’t follow my advice, I’d have a lot more,” she said.

Millard loves English. “I love phrases and wordings. I tend to carry them around in my pocket, so I like the idea of carrying around something.”

Kalinde Webb, junior English and CCR teacher, has two tattoos that turned into one piece.

Webb’s Butterfly/Ying-Yang. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn)

She first got a butterfly in 1991 in Denver while in college.

“The butterfly is a symbol of how life is short, and fleeting,” Webb said.  “Embrace moments. live for today, Carpe Diem.”

Her second tattoo was done in Cincinnati. It’s a Yin-yang symbol located right next to the butterfly.  “I got the yin-yang because it represents an attractive idea, it represents balance in life, balance between action and contemplation, balance between work and play.  It is hard to achieve,” said Webb.

Webb is interested in getting more ink, “I want to extend it, I want to make it bigger and more prominent,” she said.  “I might get some added for my 50th birthday, or my 25th wedding anniversary.”

Angie Parrett, special education teacher at Talawanda, said her tattoo represents her grandmother.  “It’s for my grandmother, she was really special to me,” said Parrett.  It reads ‘Sunshine” and is located on her wrist.

Parrett’s Sunshine Tattoo. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn)

Olive’s flower, diamond and waves. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn.)

Krista Olive moved to Ohio from Florida when she was in 8th grade. Olive designed her own tattoo, which is located on her back and is of a flower, and a diamond that’s surrounded by waves.

“The flower is the Florida state flower,” Olive said.  “The waves around the diamond and flower represent the ocean. Eventually it’s going to be a whole back piece.”

Olive has five tattoos total. “I’m addicted, it’s art and I love art. I designed all of mine,” she said.

McClellan’s Ohio. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn)

Remembering your roots is also important to senior Eli McClellan, who has the state of Ohio on his forearm.   He’s planning on starting a sleeve from it.

“It’s my roots, it’s where I’m from,” said McClellan. “Tattoos represent you as a person, they make you unique.”

Not only do older seniors and teachers get inked, but so do some underclassman.

Chelsea Ashdown, a sophomore, has three tattoos.  She has a butterfly flying around flowers

Ashdown’s butterfly tattoo. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn)

Ashdown’s wolf/tribal. (Photo by Joseph DeVaughn.)

and a wolf with a tribal tattoo.

“I got the butterfly because butterflies can fly away, and I want to fly away at times,” said Ashdown.  “But, my family and friends keep me here just like a flower’s pollen keeps a butterfly.”

Ashdown drew the wolf and tribal design herself.  “I based it off of a photo I found online. I got it because everyone in my family has it,” she said.

From students to teachers, tattoos are more than just a picture–they signify passions, serve as remembrances, and they make us unique.