Click to read about the best places to eat on campus, freshman packing tips, and how to keep in touch with friends.

Permanent self-expression

For many people, the love of art is skin deep. Pictures, words and symbols, among other things, are permanently inked onto their flesh.

But why would someone do that?

“Boredom – maybe their parents don’t love them,” said Micah Dunn, an Artistic Armor Tattooing employee, failing to keep a straight face.

“To make themselves feel better about themselves,” said Artistic Armor tattoo artist Tim Kenney, while Dunn laughed in the background.

A more-serious Dunn explained, “It’s an accessory – like wearing clothes – you don’t always have to have a meaning behind it.”

Nick McGurk, a junior at USF, has four tattoos and plans on getting more. The reasoning behind his leg tattoos of Jack and Sally Skellington from A Nightmare Before Christmas boils down to a love of body art.

“I’ve liked them since I was a kid,” he said.

McGurk isn’t worried that his tattoos will hinder him from future employment opportunities. He gets them in places he can cover up when he works at the bank where he’s employed.

Because of the area they work in – Artistic Armor is on 30th Street just south of Fowler Avenue — Dunn and Kenney see plenty USF students — sometimes even faculty — coming to get inked. Kenney said he has even done USF logo tats, as many as 20 in the past six months.

But for the most part, Kenney said, “The average college student will get some type of symbol, whether it be zodiac or frat letters or something like that.”

The most common spots for guys to get inked are the arms or legs, while girls usually ask for a “tramp stamp,” which Dunn professes to be the industry terminology for a tattoo on the lower back.

The most painful places to put the needle are the neck, stomach, ribs and inner thigh.Some of the craziest tattoos Kenney has ever done include a “666” on top of a man’s head and blackening in someone’s nipples. Kenney said he really wasn’t sure about the reasoning behind either one.

Whatever the motive behind getting a tattoo, Kenney says research is the key to a successful inking. While some people do choose something off the wall of a tattoo shop, most people get custom designs. Research into the design and the tattoo artist are important considerations before sitting in the chair.

Kenney encourages tattoo seekers to look at their artist’s portfolio and talk to them about what it is they want to have done.

One reason Kenney advises against is getting a tattoo to correct blemishes.

“If you plan on covering up stretch marks or scars, it doesn’t work. It just makes them stand out 10 times worse,” he said.

He also said tattoos should never need to be touched up. Fading is caused by negligence in caring for the tattoo, especially in the critical healing time in the weeks following the job. Sun exposure, swimming and picking at the scabs all cause imperfections in new tattoos.

So whatever the reasons and wherever the body part, those in search of ink should research the design and artist, take special care of their new fleshy pictures and always tip their friendly neighborhood tattoo artist.