Matt Campbell shows off his “family is everything” tattoo. Photos by Grace DeSanti.

Students tell the stories behind their tattoos

According to the, about 30 percent of college students have at least one tattoo, creating a subculture of art and expression with their canvas being the human body.

Matt Campbell, a senior communications major, already has two tattoos, one on his left forearm of a forest (pictured below) and another on his right bicep that reads “Family is Everything” (pictured left).

Campbell says that his second tattoo, the forest, was the first big purchase he made since earlier this year when his father passed away from a pulmonary embolism. He got this tattoo done at Jersey Ink in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and had this tattoo idea for five years before he got it done this summer. It was the only tattoo idea he had that his father had approved of. 

“For me, family is not just my immediate family, it’s all my close friends and everybody I love and care about,” Campbell said. “Without them I am not who I am. To me they are just everything in my life. I would move mountains for them.”

He plans on getting tattoo sleeves on both of his arms and possibly one on his ribs. Him and his two brothers are planning on getting a tattoo in memory of their father in the near future. Campbell has no doubts about his tattoo plans and no regrets about the two he already has.

“Everybody outside my immediate family was like ‘In 15 years you’ll regret seeing that on your body,’” Campbell said. “No, if I had any kind of inkling that I would regret it I wouldn’t have put it on myself because they are permanent and a lot of money.”

Like Campbell, Jack Cederberg, a third-year pharmacy student, had known he had wanted a tattoo for awhile before getting his first. He chose to get a tattoo combining a DNA strand with the tree of life on his right calf as a birthday present to himself for his 19th birthday (pictured below).

“I knew I wanted something that wouldn’t die off in two years and be irrelevant,” Cederberg said. “I figured unless they come up with a new tree of life or unless they decide that DNA isn’t a double strand helix, this one will last with the idea behind it.”

Cederberg found the sketch online and brought it to Josh Tores, a tattoo artist at the Piercing Emporium and Tattoo in Worcester, Massachusetts. Tores sketched out the tattoo in sharpie on Cedarburg’s leg before he endured a three-hour long tattoo session. 

The tattoo cost Cederberg $525, $175 an hour. According to Cederberg, he could have gotten it for much cheaper. However, the weight of knowing the permanence of tattoos convinced him to opt for a more expensive artist.

“I figure if I am going to do it, I want it to look good and I saw [Tores’] portfolio and it was really good,” said Cedarberg. “I would rather pay the money and get a good product. I could have gotten this for $80 somewhere and it would have looked like trash so I figured might as well invest.”