Jan 17th, 2018, 02:15 PM

Tattoos of AUP: Volume VI

By Elizabeth Nguyen Son
Despite The Abundance Tattoo
Image Credit: Emily Davidson
"We used water and cigarette ash to make the ink and a paper clip to poke it in."

Name: Ali Benzerara
Age: 24
Country: California, USA
Number of tattoos: 3

Image Credit: Gabriel Green

"I got a dragon on my right bicep and shoulder in 2012 when I was 18. It started off as a funny dragon head because it was a $60 random. You pull out a piece of paper with a word on it and whatever the word is, the tattoo artist draws up a tattoo and you can either get it or pay the $60 anyway and not get it. I got the body a year later after my tattoo artist traveled around South America. He grabbed four different colored Sharpies and drew the body free hand in forty-five minutes and it looked great so we went for it. It took like five hours. The dragon is a representation of having the courage to do something new and following through. The dragon represents different things in each culture.

Image Credit: Gabriel Green

"I got a saxophone on my right inner forearm in 2013 because it was the first instrument I learned to play. It inspired me to continue down a musical path for fun. I taught myself how to play the acoustic and electric guitar and the piano. It took an hour and a half to complete but I got it on a thirty-minute lunch break. My boss was cool with it though. That same day my younger brother got into a car accident that should have killed him but did not.

"The rose was done by the same tattoo artist as the dragon. It’s a cross between the Sailor Jerry and the Ed Hardy style. It probably has the most meaning, honestly, because I got it after a big rough patch in my life where I was partying a lot and making bad decisions. The white rose in many cultures represents a new beginning. I got it as a reminder that I’ll never go back to what I was. I also got a thorn in it because every rose has a thorn in it and every situation in life has something that you can’t control that might set you back. Everyone is always asking, 'are you going to get that finished?' and I’m like, 'Nah, it’s a white rose.' I had it filled in white but because of my skin color it fades out super-fast so I just leave it now.

Image Credit: Gabriel Green

None of my tattoos hurt. I love the feeling. I fell asleep during the rose. I’m definitely planning on getting more tattoos. I’m going to get “Always Forgive, Never Forget” on my right forearm in between the saxophone and the white rose. My three tattoos were done in California so I’m going to get this one in Paris. I might get it in French too - I've been thinking about it but I'm not sure yet. I’m also going to be finishing my dragon with anime-style Japanese clouds so it looks like the dragon is coming out of the clouds. I’m planning on having them on my right arm so I can build up a sleeve. I’m also planning on getting my name in Arabic on my chest. Here’s a fun fact though: I got a stick and poke tattoo in my hand. We used water and cigarette ash to make the ink and a paper clip to poke it in. Disclaimer: I got it when I was in jail and that’s how they do tattoos in jail. It only lasted like two months. It was fun though."

Image Credit: Elizabeth Nguyen Son

Name: Leona Caanen
Age: 19
Country: Hilversum, Netherlands
Number of tattoos: 2

"I have a swallow and three dots on my left wrist. I got swallow almost a year ago – in February it will be a year – and the dots I got in April. The swallow is based on a tattoo my dad has. He has five swallows on his right arm because he has four children and one grandchild. The tattoo was originally four swallows and he added the fifth one a year and a half ago to represent his new grandchild. I got it because last year in January my dad was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. I wanted to get it with him so that we would do it together because you never know what could happen in life. I went to the Netherlands to get it and my eldest sister spontaneously got one as well. She got hers on the outside of her left wrist.

Image Credit: Leona Caanen

The other one was done by Riki Davis, another student at AUP, and it is a stick and poke. It was very spontaneous. No one knew I was going to get it. I asked her about it during spring break and we just did it. I hid it from my family for a while because I was worried about what they’d think since they’re not big on tattoos, but I eventually told them. Once it’s on there, there’s not much they can do about it anyway. In the end, they were all supportive. The tattoo is based on a concept that my mom taught me. It stands for body, mind, and soul. It’s the idea that they should always be equal and balanced. If one is thrown off, it affects the other two. I’ve struggled with that a lot, especially in 2017, and so it’s a really good reminder to have.

I would like more tattoos but I told myself I wouldn’t until I get back from my trip after the summer. I want it to mean something to me and not be something random. I’m walking 780 kilometers this summer from the South of France to the North of Spain – it’s the Camino de Santiago walk. I would really like to get it on my left rib cage but I don’t know what I want yet. I’ll definitely know before I go and get it but I’m willing to spend a lot of money on it because I want it to be of good quality."

Image Credit: Elizabeth Nguyen Son

Name: Emily Davidson
Age: 19
Country: Michigan, USA
Number of tattoos: 1

"It says 'despite the abundance' and it’s from a poem called Snow and Dirty Rain by Richard Siken. The poem is two pages long but that specific part comes from my favorite stanza and I really liked what the lines, surrounding it, say. I didn’t want to get the whole paragraph because it would’ve taken up my whole arm. I’m an art history major but I read a lot of poetry and he’s my favorite poet – I own three of his books.

I definitely want other tattoos and I’m open to getting different things. I’ll probably get some sheet music at some point. But I think for my first one - even if I don’t think tattoos have to have a deeper meaning or anything - I wanted to have one for my first one. I’ve known that poem for years and I’ve had that quote up on my wall for a long time so I thought “this was it.”

The font is Jane Austen and it was in the big book of fonts at the tattoo parlor. I didn’t know what font I wanted when I went in and I thought it was really pretty. The fact that it was called Jane Austen made me love it even more. I got it in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One fun fact about it is that this was not a planned tattoo. I went with my best friend when he got his tattoo five days before I came to AUP. I was there and I was like “might as well get my first one while I’m still at home, before I head to Paris.” I sat there thinking about what I should get on my body and the quote on my wall flashed in my eyes and thought that it was perfect."

“We have not touched the stars
Nor are we forgiven
Which brings us back to the hero’s shoulders
And the gentleness that comes
Not from an absence of violence
But despite the abundance of it”
- Richard Siken

If you haven't already read the antecedent articles from this series. You can find them all here.