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Old method, new expression

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Students reflect on their first tattoo's and their meanings

Nina+Siefert+poses+with+her+first+tattoo.+This+tattoo+represents+her+love+of+animals.
Nina Siefert poses with her first tattoo. This tattoo represents her love of animals.

Nina Siefert poses with her first tattoo. This tattoo represents her love of animals.

Chloe Bockhorst

Chloe Bockhorst

Nina Siefert poses with her first tattoo. This tattoo represents her love of animals.

In years past, tattoos were widely frowned upon in a society more concerned with traditions. Currently, recent generations have found more and more ways to express themselves as the formerly strict social rules are broken. Culture continues to modernize itself, but everyone appreciates art from the past. Our generation has increased the number of tattoos inked on in early ages. Big or small, colorful or achromatic, students still in high school rush to get their first tattoo as soon as possible. However, they are still doubted by some with a traditional mindset. Those who oppose question as to why so many teenagers are rushing to get something permanent when younger generations usually have nothing in their life figured out. Undeterred by arguments like this, many students have an answer ready as to why they got inked so early. Senior Nina Siefert, who’s first tattoo is a dog paw on the inside of her wrist, tells why she got hers so early.

Chloe Bockhorst
Sam Shanley’s tattoo is small, but powerful. Her tattoo represents her faith in God.


“I knew that animals and dogs in general are something that’s a big part of my life, and I knew that’s not something that’s going to change.” Siefert said.
She, like many others who get tattoos in high school, have wanted to get their design tattooed for months or even years. Despite the negative stigma around tattoos and the decision making skills of teenagers, these students have put lots of thought into the art that is inked on forever. The design that is tattooed may be a cause someone is passionate about, or something they’ve loved since a child, or a part of their life that has deeply impacted them. This is true for senior Sam Shanley, who has a cross tattooed on the inside of her arm.

“Getting a tattoo is something that becomes a part of you, and mine represents my faith in God. That’s something I never want to just be able to take off and put away.” Shanley said.

Her tattoo represents something that she believes defines her, making it more than just ink. With such a special meaning, Shanley considers her first tattoo to be more special than any others she plans to get. While not everyone shares the same sentimental perspective, a good number of people do. Tattoo artist Christina Haller, notes that her shop does 1 or 2 first tattoos a day on average, and says most are special in multiple ways.

“What people choose to get done is so deeply personal to them that there’s a huge variety of designs we do as first tattoos,””

— Christina Haller


“What people choose to get done is so deeply personal to them that there’s a huge variety of designs we do as first tattoos,” Haller said. “I wouldn’t say any of them are typical especially for a first tattoo.”
Everyone has a reason that drove them to get the design they did, but all share the love of the art they get inked. Any design that resonates with a person, they can get tattooed to keep with them forever. Tattooing allows people to show their creativity in a unique way unlike any other form of expression. To senior Jackson Snell, getting inked was a matter of originality.

Nina Siefert’s tattoo is in a place painful to ink. To her, she was “paying for the pain.”


“They’re bold, they stand out, they catch attention and get people asking about them so that way you can vocalize the idea behind it.” Snell said. In a society that becomes increasingly more fleeting and void of ideas, students find it refreshing to have creativity outlets like tattooing available. Not everyone admires the idea of tattoos, but those who do see it as another way to create art.

“You can definitely [express art] in another way. Tattoos are just another outlet for it.” Snell said.

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Old method, new expression