Markings, meanings, everything In between: students tell the stories behind their tattoos part 23

Let’s talk about new beginnings and fresh starts. 

Change is inevitable, but making change in order to open new doors takes real courage. Along with recently transferring to the University of Rhode Island as a third-year, Emmett Cummins from Providence, R.I. made the permanent decision to get a tattoo. 

The reason for getting tattoos varies widely from person to person, and there’s no one-size-fits-all explanation, but for Cummins, it didn’t take much thinking. Inspiration for his tattoo sprouted from his mother who is an artist, as well as his dad being a musician, exposing him to lots of different types of music and expressing himself through art, he says. 

His love for music led him to getting the album by “Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall.” He loved the album and the cover art for it, which prompted his tattoo of the line drawing.

“My mom knew I was going to get it and she loved it. On the other hand, my dad had no idea, and isn’t really a fan of tattoos so I was nervous about what he might think,” he said. “but he loved it when I showed him.” 

Cummins said that the combination of his favorite artist from his favorite genre and his favorite pianist being Thelonious Monk led him to decide it would be a good idea to get it as a tattoo. This way, he’s able to showcase his appreciation for the two things that he enjoys the most in life. 

“I got the tattoo this summer kind of impulsively, I had the idea for a few months, then one morning decided to just do it. I called Wakefield Tattoo and got an appointment that same day,” said Emmett. 

His tattoo was done by Zander at Wakefield tattoo and due to this spontaneous decision, Emmett had no choice but to get this tattoo by himself. Nevertheless he met up with his girlfriend Jasmine afterwards so she could see his new ink. 

“The pain was about what I was expecting, it wasn’t too bad, but it was super quick. It took only 15 minutes and Zander kept a little bit of a convo with me while we did it so it went smoothly,” he said. “Immediately after, I though ‘I have a tattoo now this is really permanent,’ but then after a few days I was like ‘I want 100 more.’” 

Jazz artist John Coltrane, was Cummins first musician to jumpstart his love of jazz which led him to discover his enjoyment of pianists. Cummins emphasized the beauty of John Coltrane’s creation.

“There is no vocals needed when he is playing the saxophone as they take over that role, he plays with lots of energy and emotion and his music just captivates me very well,” Cummins  said. 

Certain individuals view their bodies as canvases and use tattoos as a way to display art and creativity. For some, tattoos often carry symbolic meaning, representing important life events, loved ones, or personal milestones. For others, tattoos can be a form of personal expression, allowing individuals to showcase their interests, beliefs, or values. 

Self-expression is not a problem for Cummins as he is a fine arts major. He spent his first two years of college at Bridgewater State in Massachusetts. He’s currently in the process of switching his major to landscape architecture and having fine arts as his minor. 

Along with letting his ideas come to life on the daily, Cummins plays basketball, he loves to draw and occasionally creates sculptures. He enjoys hanging out with his friends and his girlfriend in his free time. 

People handle change differently. For some, getting a tattoo can be an empowering act, allowing them to take control of their body and make choices about its appearance. They can also serve as permanent reminders of significant moments, such as births, deaths or cultural purposes. The way an individual regains their confidence and control of this fast paced life, can be a reminder of how much we can achieve. 

Cummins’ story is a reminder that you have the ability to take control of your life, it’s not too late to do what you love and get on the right track to achieve your dreams. If you’re passionate about something it’s important to talk about it. For some of us it’s enough to permanently have it tattooed into our skin, that way you’re not only saying it, you’re showing it.