Part II: Got Ink?

An inside look at UCR’s tattoo culture

By Natalie Burduli

Did you enjoy reading about your fellow classmates and their unique tattoos? Did you maybe feel inspired to hit up the nearest tattoo parlor to try out this amazing art on yourself? Or do you need a few more stories to really get you thinking about getting some ink?
Well if that is the case, we have you covered! Here are a few more tattoos that will leave you saying “I will spend all my money on tattoos and live off of ramen noodles for the rest of the semester”.


“My tattoo is of a lady with a life preserver around her neck, it was inspired by my mum, although she isn’t a huge fan of tattoos. The design was on a shoebox she kept because she thought it looked cool. It represents gratitude, gratitude to my mum, and gratitude towards the people who took me diving (hence the life preserver). They were like a second family who I spent my time with under water. They made my adolescence bearable, if not exciting.

So you might be asking yourself how does this show gratitude, fun story. So I wanted the word gratitude written on the life preserver, but my overexcited, dyslexic, nervous self managed to miss the fact that it was misspelt until after it was on my arm. Me and the artist decided to cover the word instead of trying to pull it off as purposeful, so on the preserver you will see the word “graditude” very faintly, as it heals you see it less and less. If a tattoo is supposed to reflect yourself, I hit the nail on the head. Overexcited, impulsive, dyslexic, and nervous. But I love it none the less, and am glad I can be reminded of the people who shaped me in a positive way. Shout out to the real MVPS, Barbados Blue crew and mi madre.”

Alex Cole, Class of 2019, is a Biology Major from Bridgetown, Barbados.


“It was during a difficult time in my life when I got this tattoo, in fact, getting it was the only thing I was sure I did right at the time! I was looking at some kind of music stuff when I had the idea for this tattoo, for people who don’t know that much about music, the music note on my tattoo is a quaver, which stands for a half count of a quarter note (basically not a full count), and the word quaver stands for when there’s a nervous tremble in someone’s voice.

I guess for me both meanings worked. When things go bad, I get nervous and don’t express things very well, and half a count stands for a metaphor of things not going to plan. But the important thing is to remember that life still goes on, hence the EKG tracing in the note, a symbol of a beating heart. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s the whole idea of everything coming together, like different notes to make a song, and therefore, you just have to make the most of whatever life gives you. It’s rather interpretive, so take what you want from it, really.”

Ariel Teo, Class of 2020, is an Interdepartmental Major from Perth, Australia.


“The one on my thumb, it’s actually a cover up tattoo. I originally had three dots in a straight line but people kept telling me it looked like a gang sign, even though it didn’t.

But I thought some people would really think I was in a gang, so I found a cool picture on Pinterest and covered up the three dots.”


“The rose was the second stick and poke I did on myself after the three dots. I just chose a picture of a flower and modified it to how I liked it. It didn’t originally look like it does now, I traced over it like 4 times over a period of 3 months, and made it better. It doesn’t have much meaning in terms of symbolism, but it will always remind me of studying at UCR.”


“The two lines with four dots is the Mayan number for 14, the day I was born. I did it because I am half Guatemalan, where the Mayas lived.

I have never been to Guatemala, though, but I really want to go someday.”

Erica Con, Class of 2019, is a Anthropology and Law Major from Nebraska, USA. 


“The meaning behind my phoenix on my leg is related to mythology. In a mythological sense, phoenixes rise from their own ashes when they die. It reminds me that no matter what hardship, what diseases or which challenges I have to face in my life, I can always rise from my ashes and come back from it.”

Ximena van Keulen, Class of 2020, is a Anthropology and Psychology Major from Nieuwegein, the Netherlands. 

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