Aqua Butler, a junior art major at the University of Rhode Island has decorated her body in her own art. 

An artist from Providence, Butler has about eight tattoos in total. She got her first tattoo during her freshman year at URI, and in the past two years has grown her collection. 

“When you get a tattoo it’s like expressing yourself,” she said. “It’s something that you love.” 

Tattoos serve as a reminder to Butler for things important to her like family, mental health and peace. 

Her first tattoo, which she got done in December 2019, was a picture of flowers in a lightbulb vase that she drew herself. At first, being just in black and white, Butler went back in and added color later, making the lightbulb red and the flowers purple because she thought it would look nice.  

Butler got this tattoo because she wanted a vase of flowers, however she wanted to make her tattoo different from other ones she drew inspiration from on Pinterest. She decided that putting the flowers in a lightbulb vase is exactly what she wanted.

“When I think of a lightbulb, I think of intelligence,” she said. 

Butler mentioned that she draws a lot of her inspiration from nature. She said that nature reminds her to slow down and take a breath and she likes to incorporate flowers and butterflies into her tattoo designs.

Her favorite flower is a sunflower, although she feels a strong connection to dandelions because when they bloom, people make wishes upon them, and they are delicate and beautiful but don’t last long. 

All of the butterflies tattooed on Butler are monarch butterflies. She said when she was younger, she would raise monarchs, which is why she feels connected to them. 

Butler also said she thinks that life moves too fast sometimes. She mentioned that one day she could see herself designing tattoos for other people, however between school and work, she doesn’t have the time or resources to at the moment. Her main goal after graduation is to get into animation. 

For the time being, Butler relies on her own artistic vision to create her personal tattoos. She said when she gets inspired for a new tattoo, she will often look at reference photos from Pinterest and take what she likes from several different designs. She draws it out over time so she can add her own artistic flair, and perfect it to exactly what she wants to put on her body. 

Butler said she takes a while to design her tattoos because if she’s permanently putting it on her body she wants it to be well thought out. 

Butlers 8 tattoos consist of:

  1. Flowers in a light bulb vase on her left forearm. 
  2. A small heart on her right ear.
  3. Butterflies on her right wrist.
  4. 2001 on her right ankle with a sunflower and butterfly.
  5. Her little brother’s birthday in roman numerals on her right shoulder. 
  6. “God is good” on her right forearm. 
  7. “Love yourself” written in Japanese on her back with a butterfly.
  8. “Art” on her left shoulder.