Tattoos and the human canvas

Sean Asuncion

Tattoo signifies the music of Sean Asuncion's being

GROSSMONT COLLEGE — Every day, every minute, and every second a tattoo is being made; a piece of precious art that can be erased but, many choose not to. Tattoos are made by inserting indelible ink through three layers of skin into the dermis where the ink bonds with the tissue and dyes it whatever the color of ink is being used. A needle is inserted electronically into the skin at about 50-300 times a minute; every time the needle is inserted it places a drop of insoluble ink. The sensation is similar to being scratched by a cat.  Some places that are particularly sensitive to pain during tattooing are the head, ribs, and elbow.

Although professional artists charge between $50 and $200 dollars an hour for a tattoo, many can’t put an exact price on tattoos themselves. After being made, tattoos become valuable pieces of art; tattoos hold sentimental value similar to a lifelong family heirloom. Tattoos are pieces of art that remind wearers everyday who they are, and can illustrate whether the person cares a lot about his or her family, has a hard or wonderful life, and is a terrible or good person.

Donovan McGee's tattoos honor his mother and grandmother

Tattoos are made so wearers can show rather than tell who they are.  Through tattoos people are given an open invitation to know one another. For example, Grossmont students Richard Ledferd’s koi fish tattoo says, in effect,  “I want luck and luck will come to me.” Sasha Mollon’s tattoo suggests “I love my dog as much as I love my own family,” and Donovan McGee’s tattoo relates that  “My Mom and Grandma are the two most important girls in my life.” Tattoos can illustrate the “5 W’s and the H” of a person’s life, who, what, where, why, when and how. Who are you, why are you the way you are, where do you want to be in life, how did you become who you are today and what place did you come from; all these questions can be answered without having to say a single word.

When you look at my tattoo, it can tell anyone who I am immediately; a musician who loves to write music and enjoys music in general. My tattoo is the bass clef, tenor clef, percussion clef, and a quarter rest in a straight line going down my right forearm in black and grey.

My story is when I was growing up I had a very depressing childhood, for many years I was bullied until I was able to beat up the bullies, I didn’t get high enough grades so my family decided I would be the lowest ranking child and I wasn’t able to get out of the house. I felt like a prisoner only waiting for the day I would be able to see freedom. The one thing that played a humongous part in my life was my music. When I put my headphones on I was able to escape into a world where I was happy. When I sing, I’m able to express my emotion in an artistic way that I can share with others. I came to know that music would be the only thing in my life that would stay by my side and never leave me.

Through music I became a lead soloist along with a few others at Morse High School’s advanced choir, where I gained a new family. Many people suddenly knew who I was because I was known as the guy with vocals. People would come up to me astonished because they didn’t believe a person like me had a voice at all. Girls would suddenly come up to me and ask me to sing for them.  Music was my gateway to a new life, where I was able to be happy through jam sessions, rehearsals and performances. Music saved my life and I will never forget how music made me the person I am to this day. Every time I look at my tattoo, music just flows through my mind and body and I’ll either sing or dance because I’m passionate about both. My tattoo shows me every day what I love and will always love; music.

Even though tattoos are valuable pieces of art, they can be a big part in determining a person’s career and future. A person looking for a partner, temporary or permanent, will encounter two types of people: Those who like or dislike tattoos. A person looking for a job may have a hard time because this generation still has the old, anti-tattoo generation in a dominant position in the work force.

People of  past generations often don’t accept tattoos, believing them to be either unprofessional or dirty. Many people do not see the artistic value of tattoos and make life a little harder for people with them.  In some cases, tattoos may determine whether a person receives a salary of over $100,000 a year, or between $20,000 and $50,000.

Tattoos have a big risk but, many people would rather be with someone, or work in a place that accepts them and their bodies for what they are. A person may be thought of as a gangster through tattoos like tear drops, spider webs, dragons, or tigers. A person can be shown as artistic through tattoos like a microphone or a paint brush. A family man can be shown through a portrait of a child or parent. Whatever the case, tattoos provide priceless memories and reminders of people who played a big role in their lives, or of  a certain event that happened that changed their life or certain items that influenced how they become the people they are today.

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Asuncion is a student in Media Comm 132A.  He may be contacted at [email protected]