“A little taste of normal life”: How tattoos are getting students through quarantine

Luca Tondin shows his "You'll Never Walk Alone" tattoo. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

When Hannah Blosser was locked down at home in College Park this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, she decided to browse online to find a tattoo gun starter kit. 

“I just wanted to feel normal and I used to always go out and get tattoos,” she said. “It’s kind of my thing.”

Blosser, a senior communication major, said the kit came in an artsy, black briefcase-style box that was covered in rainbow packaging when she opened it up. Along with the tattoo gun, the kit came with fake rubber skin she could practice on. 

Blosser describes herself as an artistic person who enjoys painting and music. Being creatively inclined, she was excited to assemble the new kit and start using it, even though she said drawing is not one of her strengths. 

“If you would open up someone’s high school math notebook and see a bunch of doodles, that’s just what my fake skin looks like,” said Blosser. 

Even though it’s hard to get the hang of, it’s a hobby Blosser enjoys — and something she can do from her bedroom. 

Other students have also been getting tattoos and expressing themselves through tattoo art during quarantine to help regain a sense of normalcy or bring themselves some joy and excitement during uncertain times. 

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Luca Tondin, a senior electrical engineering major, said he’s wanted a tattoo for about four years, and being quarantined over the summer gave him more time to plan a design. He was able to play with fonts on a Microsoft document to see which seemed most fitting for the phrase “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the song covered by Gerry and the Pacemakers. 

Tondin, a “massive” Liverpool fan, said he this phrase is “near and dear” to his heart because the soccer team plays this song before every game.

Tondin set up an appointment at Kent Liberty Tattoo so he could get his first tattoo on his way home for the weekend in mid-September. When Tondin walked into the shop for his appointment, he noticed everyone was wearing masks and the workstations were kept at a 6-foot distance. 

He also noticed there was one other appointment going on when he was there: A man was getting a pornographic tattoo. Seeing that eased Tondin’s mood, he said.

“It was definitely nerves the first five minutes,” Tondin said. “But then hearing those people talk about what tattoo that one guy was getting … took the pressure away.”

After spending about 20 minutes deciding where to put the design, Tondin finally chose to get it on his forearm. After that, the inking process only took 10-15 minutes, he said.

Although quarantine gave him more time to think about his tattoo, Tondin said the timing of the appointment was for another strategic reason. 

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He was on his way home that weekend, and his parents had made their opinion of tattoos clear. 

“My thought process was: if I get it and they end up seeing it, they can’t get mad at me, because it’s the weekend of my sister’s wedding,” he said.

Tondin said getting the tattoo was a fun experience overall because it was something permanent and personal.  

Georgianna Georgopoulos, a senior physiology and neurobiology major, got a stick and poke tattoo on her arm with independent artist Faulty Ears in Baltimore. She said she found an entire page of scorpion-themed tattoos in a book of the artist’s designs. She decided to go with a small circle with a scorpion in the middle because her astrological sign is Scorpio.  

Georgopoulos said she was excited to finally be able to have this experience again because many stick and poke artists are no longer traveling through the area. 

“There’s not really much to look forward to right now and there’s a lot of limitations put in place in order to keep ourselves safe,” said Georgopoulos. “Being able to do something that’s new and exciting, like getting a tattoo right now, it feels extra special.”

Georgopoulos said she and the artist were wearing masks, and the studio required customers to use hand sanitizer upon entering. She was not allowed to bring anyone with her. 

“It was nice to be able to get a tattoo right now and feel safe doing so,” she said. “It’s like a little taste of normal life.”

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