Tattooing is an art traditionally performed and perfected by only the most skilled artists who have undergone extensive training, apprenticeships and practice. They can draw designs that bring your vision to life, imprint them carefully in to your skin like theyâ€™re painting a canvas, then make your heart stop when they quote you for the session.
So is there another way to get inked and still be able to pay for tuition?
There sure is, rebellious ones!
Do-it-yourself tattooing is a growing trend around the world as people realize that all they need to get a tattoo are some cheap supplies, a relatively high yield for pain, and a touch of artistic ability.
In my quest for inspirational and interesting stories hidden under the skin of my fellow tatted-up Colorado State University students, I was surprised how many people had DIY tattoo work around campus.
Two formerly-featured CSU Inkers don DIY artwork: Hunter Reece and Justin Hill, who both utilized somewhat crude methods, but with very different motives.
Reece received his â€œartâ€ during a phase of experimentation while living in the dorms with his buddies his freshman year. With the clever use of an electric toothbrush, a mechanical pencil, an eraser and an old guitar string, Reece successfully added a freckle to his skin.
Thatâ€™s right, he tatted an entire dot right on his arm, didnâ€™t cry or anything, and that suckerâ€™s not going anywhere.
The reasoning behind it in his words was â€œthe dumbness of being a college freshman.â€ Hey, weâ€™ve all had experience with that, right?
Hill, on the other hand, put a bit more thought in to his piece. His DIY tattoo of an encircled â€˜Aâ€™ and encircled â€˜Eâ€™ stamped on to either of his thumbs signify the ideology of a philosopher he admires, and the artist behind the work was his younger brother Austin.
â€œI went back to New York over Christmas break, and we decided we should tattoo each other,â€ Hill said. Justin had previously tattooed a bass clef on his brotherâ€™s hand, and now it was his turn on the operating table.
The brothers used a common style of DIY tattooing called Stick â€˜n Poke, which Justin described as a rather crass technique.
â€œWe looked it up and itâ€™s really easy, you can go to any craft store and buy India ink, which is what they use at tattoo shops, and then you take a pencil or anything thatâ€™s straight really, and take just a regular sewing needle, and rubber band it to it. Then you take sewing yarn, and you wrap it down the needle, leaving just a little bit of the tip, which is the tip of the needle thatâ€™ll go in (to the skin),â€ Hill explained.
â€œWhen you dip it in the ink the yarn soaks it up so that when youâ€™re poking the ink drips down from the yarn, into the poke that you made. If you do it right it can be clean, and itâ€™s actually not that difficult to do if youâ€™re careful,â€ he said.
If the Stick â€˜n Poke style sounds a little too primitive for you, there is always the option of forking out some cash for your very own professional tattooing needle and setting up shop at home.
Former CSU student Carl Hudspeth recently started to explore the realm of tattoo artistry, using a tattoo gun he bought online. He tattooed his roommate for free, only asking him to split the price of supplies.
â€œIt was fun but my work needs work before I get too crazy,â€ he admitted. â€œItâ€™s cool to take my drawing in to tats. I love tattooing now.â€
Graphic design major Tim Oâ€™Connor, or Timmy Baby as he prefers to go by, uses his own body to hone his tattooing skills.
â€œI got my own machine and decided to expand my medium and tried it out. I made a carbon copy stencil, hand-traced the design and had my little station set up in my basement and did some work on my legs,â€ he said. â€œIt wasnâ€™t a fun process, but itâ€™s one of my favorite pieces.â€
Already a talented artist, drummer and skater, Timmy Baby may also have a future as a tattoo artist. The Don Ed Hardy-style piece he successfully inked upside-down on to his own thighs with no formal training is undoubtedly impressive.
Unfortunately in the tattoo world, tatting out of your home can potentially damage your credit and present a serious liability.
â€œI started talking to Freakshow and they actually told me to stop everything until I become an apprentice,â€ Oâ€™Connor said. A tattoo mentor can be hard to acquire, so until that day comes, â€œIâ€™ll just use my thighs as my sketch pads.â€