Tattoos: permanent part of student body

Tattoos are a permanent form of body art that have existed for hundreds of years. However, in recent years, they have dropped their tough-biker stereotype and gained popularity among younger crowds, namely college-age individuals.

A number of Geneseo students are inked.

"I like how people with tattoos look," said junior Elena Kurz, who has six tattoos herself. "It's a way of decorating my body and representing who I am or what I do."

Many individuals wait until college to get a tattoo because of their newfound independence, as well as the end of age-based laws that forbid tattoos until the recipient is 18 years old.

"Tattoos are a way to express oneself," said Jeff Todd, owner of Max Ink tattoo shop on Main St. "College students are at the age when you get your own ideas and own identity. It's a statement."

Though he is covered in ink, there is one kind of tattoo that Todd warned about.

"The worst tattoo you can get," said Todd, "is a boy or girl's name." The potential for instability in relationships does not mix well with the permanence of this body art.

Max Ink is the only option for students who wish to get tattooed while at school without driving to Rochester. Todd noted that the majority of Geneseo students who come in get piercings, another service offered by Max Ink. According to Todd, activity in the shop can range from no tattoos to over 20 in one day, depending on the size of a piece. The number of piercings in a day usually ranges from two up to 30.

"About only 40 percent of our business is from the college. There's a big misconception that the college provides more business than they do," said Todd.

Still, some students opt to go to Max Ink for their tattoos. Todd said that the most popular designs are "hearts, stars, roses - the same stuff that's been around forever."

"I based my decision [to go there] pretty much on availability," said freshman Grace Benton, who recently got a tattoo there. "I didn't have a car, and I wanted a tattoo."

Though Benton has no plans for more tattoos, she would recommend the shop to others.

Some students, however, prefer to get tattooed at shops at home. Students generally choose shops based on safety, cleanliness and the recommendations from friends who have gone there before.

"I trust my tattoo artist at home, and I knew others who had gotten tattoos there," said sophomore Jen Thorpe, who has two tattoos. "It's an important thing to feel safe when you're getting something permanently on your body."