The Creative Staple of the Modern College Campus

Tattoos have gone from trendy to taboo and back again ever since they came on the scene. Reina Garcia writes about how they’ve cemented themselves as a creative form of expression for young adults and those in the college community.


In a society run by trends, it’s not surprising that tattoos become more and more popular every day. In the young adult/college community, social media creates a constant flow of inspiration for trends as well as an endless creative database. Tattoos are an increasingly common form of expression on campuses and in our culture.

Three in ten American adults have a tattoo and 86% of those who reported having a tattoo said that they do not regret getting it, according to this Harris Poll. Tattoos originally made their way to the United States in 1870, when Martin Hildebrandt left Germany and opened a tattoo shop in New York City. Before Hildebrandt made his way to the states, however, ink was mostly found on sailors and soldiers who would tattoo each other as a symbol for good luck while away from their families.

For a period of time, tattoos became seen as symbol of wealth and being a part of the upper class. It was only after the tattoo gun was invented that they were accessible to everyone. Since this made them inexpensive, it ceased to be a status symbol. In 1961 New York City made it illegal to tattoo for almost 40 years, until it was legalized again in 1997.

Today, tattoos play a big role in mainstream culture. Rappers often have tattoos on their faces or sleeves up their arms, which can become symbols of recognition.  For example, 21 Savage’s forehead cross and Post Malone’s barbed wire are now defining parts of them and are features no one else in the business has. Tattoos have developed into a significant form of expression that appears in industries, cultural trends, and social media movements.

The millennial generation is the most tattooed generation of Americans today.

The millennial generation is the most tattooed generation of Americans today.

Young adults and college students often get tattoos as they discover their individuality. “I think that tattoos are an expression of creativity,” said Anna Hamre, a college freshman studying journalism in Boston. “For a really long time they were really stigmatized…but now it has kind of evolved into something that’s really beautiful.”

Max Collins, another college student, designed the first of his six tattoos himself. “I feel like it’s another way that I have of expressing myself...of expressing my interests, and the things that are important to me,” he said.

With each day more students begin to use tattoos as a defining feature, and campuses slowly become decorated with different works of art. Some have stories behind them, some have aesthetic purposes, but all have significance to those who got the ink. “Even if it’s not meaning in the design, there’s meaning in when you got it done,” said Collins. “I’ve seen so many people get tattoos for the sake of the art, and at the end of the day, I am collecting pieces of art on my body.”