By Amy Huber, Editor –
Tattoos are more popular today than ever before. About 36 percent of Americans age 18 to 25, and 40
percent age 26 to 40 have at least one tattoo, according to the Pew Research Center.
They’re also becoming more common on college campuses.
MCC student Cassie Johnivan embodies the concept of tattoos as an art form. She has multiple tattoos, both
visible and normally covered.
“The wings are my first tattoo,” she said. “I got them when I was seventeen. They were much smaller to
start, and over the course of about two years, I had them expanded and shaded in.”
She mentioned she is uncertain why she wanted wings, but had always envisioned them as her first tattoo.
Although she has multiple tattoos, each has a distinct meaning to her.
“The ankh and eyes were my next tattoos and they were done at the same time,” she said. “I’ve been deeply
interested in ancient Egypt and its mythology since I was in grade school, but that was only a part of the reason
I decided to get those.”
Cassie had found out she was sick, and because the ankh represents life and health she decided to get the
tattoo as way of telling the universe she was stronger.
“The eyes represent the wisdom and knowledge that I hope to gain throughout my life,” she added.
While some people have opinions etched in their minds regarding ink, and the reasons they envision for it,
Cassie is living proof that those are just preconceived illusions. Each tattoo is well thought out and calculated,
not some spur of the moment drunken whim, regretted in the morning.
“The large black and grey figure is a picture that I had drawn,” she said. “It’s a zombie that had taken me a
while and I was particularly fond of how it turned out. I decided to immortalize it on my body in case the
original got lost.”
More and more, that seems to be the case with tattoos. People are drawing up their own artwork, using
fingerprints, footprints and photos of loved one, and having them tattooed on their bodies so they will have
them forever. These tats mean something to them in one way or another, they aren’t just placed there on a
“The image of Brahma was important to me, not just because of my interest in the Hindu mythology, but
also because of what it meant to me at the point in my life when I got it,” she said. “I seemed to be hitting wall
after wall of some kind of problems, and I got the image put on me in that particular place on my arm to remind
me of that, even though things may not go as planned, they will always work out.”
As far as other people’s reactions to her tattoos, Cassie stated that she gets the usual questions of “Did it
hurt?” and “Where did you go to get it done?” She said that in general, reactions are fairly positive,
“considering some of the particular images I have on me.”
People tend to ask her what her tattoos are, and what they mean. She related an anecdote of an older couple
who mistook her zombie tattoo for Jesus before they saw the whole thing.
“Their reactions were kind of funny,” she said. “I do catch the occasional weird look, but it comes with the
Cassie added, “It does kind of create a bond with some people. The tattooed community are very open
people who are interested in the stories and the art in general. It often becomes a show and tell kind of thing,
which is fun.”
The only tattoo Cassie has that doesn’t mean something to her is the lady with the skeleton that she chose
because she liked that image. It simply makes her smile.
“I also have plans for many more tattoos,” she said.
Photos provided by Cassie Johnivan.