The skin as canvass (courtesy of Event Horizon)

Thinking of getting a tattoo? Before you do, hear from JSC students who are already inked.

Spend 15 minutes looking around campus and it is clear: people here aren’t afraid of the tattoo needle.

Artwork decorates the bodies of many students on campus and it would seem that the choice to get inked is more than skin deep.

JSC student Alex Sears equates tattoos with art. For him, his body is a vehicle for displaying it. “I like to view my body as a scrapbook,” he said. “You have scars you know, that come with stories. Why can’t you do that with art that you want to put on your own body?”

Sears is an Outdoor Education major who sports what he calls an “Islamic compass” tattoo on his left bicep. The tattoo has a Halal symbol within the intricate compass, a well-known symbol in Islamic culture.

He said one of the reasons he chose this piece is that he wanted something “orienteering me, pointing me in the right direction.”

Sears is half Egyptian so this piece has cultural meaning for him. He is a huge fan of symmetry and has a similarly shaped tattoo on his other bicep and a compass dial over his heart.

Sears got his compass piece done at Ambrotos Tattoo in Silver Spring, Maryland. He described it as “a pretty sweet shop.” The parlor seems reasonable in price for how well known it is. Sears dished out $180 for the hour-and-a-half

it took to do. One can expect to pay $100-130 an hour for top-notch work.

Prices can vary based on location and amount of time under the needle, so research should be done before getting inked.

Sears gave this advice to those who are thinking about getting a tattoo: “Definitely put a lot of thought and effort into what you want to put on your body, because it is permanent.”

He said he does not regret any of his tattoos.

“Hick Chick,” reads another JSC tattoo. Crystal Clay, a sophomore, has a tattoo of an American flag behind an old Chevy Pickup. When asked why she chose this design she said, “I am a proud American and proud to be a redneck.”

Her tattoo, which is located on her back, only took 20 minutes and cost her $90. She went to Mountainside Tattoo in Bellows Falls, Vt. for her work. If she could go back in time, she said, she wouldn’t take it back, and would actually get more done, but she doesn’t know if she would want to sit through another session to get it colored in. She remembers the pain well.

“Make sure it’s something you like before you get it,” she said. “And don’t get your first tattoo on bone!” Grimacing she added, “All 50 stars are on my shoulder blade.”

Morgan Addy began getting inked when she was 18. This 19-year-old JSC student studies creative writing and psychology and already has ideas for more artwork she would like on her body.

For her tattoo she visited an artist named Eddie Shaw who works out of a parlor in Wallingford, Conn. called Tattoo International.

Like many tattoos, her work was split up into multiple sessions. Her first appointment lasted two hours and knocked out all of the outline work needed for her self-designed tattoo. She dropped $170 on this session.

The second session was for the color and took about an hour and 15 minutes. She spent another $90 bucks on this session.

Speaking about the second session she said, “At first it didn’t hurt as much as the first, but then it got dragged on and on and he went over everything so precisely, so I felt so much pain.”

“It’s on my ribcage,” she said. “It’s worth it though. He’s a good artist.”

Shaw’s biography on the shop’s website opens by highlighting him as an artist. “Bringing his experiences as an accomplished freelance fine artist, illustrator, and art instructor, Eddie draws upon a wide variety of styles and techniques to create custom-designed tattoos that combine both traditional and new school elements.”

Addy spoke of the importance of having a good artist when deciding to get a tattoo. “A good artist knows how to make it dimensional and make it look real,” she said.

Addy doesn’t regret her tattoo at all. She explained the piece as being infused with German heritage.

“It’s the German word for beautiful . . . and it has a flower that’s from Germany and it has vines and leaves” she said. “And it’s pretty,” she added with a smile.

“I love nature,” Addy said. “I have this really deep connection with nature and having it on me makes me feel like part of nature… I definitely feel like tattoos immortalize the beauty inside your mind. I mean eventually one day they will be gone, but being able to have a story without words on your body is kind of amazing.”

Chelsea Russell is an education major with a minor in creative writing. She has decided to put some of her passions into tattoos.

This JSC senior has a treble clef and a bass clef with flowers on her neck and a tree with ravens on her leg. Her leg reads, “Follow the ravens.”

Russell seems very confident in saying that she does not regret her tattoos. This comes as a bit of a surprise considering she did not have great luck with her first tattoo experience. “The first time it was done by a guy who had a license but didn’t own a shop, and he didn’t do a very good job,” she said. “The second time it was a similar situation but he did such a better job. He re-did all the lines and everything. Both times took about two hours.”

Many consider the pain when it comes to tattoos, and many consider the meaning. Another important thing to consider is placement of tattoos and how certain audiences will perceive the ink.

Ben and Meagan Cobane both have tattoos. Together they have spent dozens of hours getting ink and thousands of dollars on the art. Meagan works with elementary school children and Ben plans to work with children as well.

Ben Cobane said he has always wanted tattoos on his hands, but that he hasn’t because he knows he is going to work a “real” job.

“My rule is that I won’t get anything that I can’t cover with slacks and a dress shirt, even though I want to,” he said.

Cobane gives this advice to those thinking about getting permanently marked: “Make sure it’s in a place you can cover up unless you are okay with your tattoos always being seen. Some jobs don’t want to see your tattoos.”

Even tattoo professionals make mistakes when it comes to their own body. Brant Newton, the founder of a Burlington tattoo shop called Event Horizon, has been getting laser removal over the last few years.

When he was younger he allowed his friends and other aspiring artists to put ink on him. He is paying for it now, as he says the removal is just as expensive as new ink and it hurts even more.

Newton is getting tattoos removed so that he can get better work to replace it. “I want my whole body covered with the things I love,” he said.