Tattoos are more popular then ever, with many paying hundreds of dollars to have an artist create a personal statement. But many might now know the history of them. The oldest documented tattoo was found on the body of a man who died around 3300 B.C., according to mediazink and Pennstate, most people know him as Otzi the Iceman. Tattoos have been around for thousands of years and through out time their meaning and usage has evolved.

Some of the history connected to tattoos is not about the creativity or identity that it is today. During WWII, tattoos were used to dehumanize the people in concentration camps by tattooing numbers on their wrists; people were identified by the number on their arm instead of their name. According to McGill office of Science and Society , tattoos in the ancient Roman world were used on criminals and slaves as a form of punishment and shame, as well to better find them if they tried to escape. Japan would tattoo their criminals with a single line across people’s forehead for a first offense, an arch was added on for a second offense, and for a third offence another line was added which formed the symbol for “dog.” Tattoos were also used as symbols advertising membership in a gang or of having been to prison. Tattoos were not only seen or used in bad ways; but some tattoos were also related to one’s religion. They were seen to represent one’s commitment and loyalty to their religion.

Tattoos have evolved into the creative symbols of identity one sees today. They are more normalized and appreciated. Today, one can see tattoos regularly on anyone, according to Chronic Ink even our Prime minister Justin Trudeau. According to a article posted on Narcity written by Allysha Howse , Justin Trudeau’s tattoo on his left bicep is of Haida raven that is wrapped around the earth.

Riverside has its share of people sporting their tattoos. Here are some of their stories:

Marissa Turcsanyi

CLE and Woodworking teacher at Riverside Marissa Turcsanyi has one tattoo that she got three years ago. The tattoo is of a pink tulip on her right wrist. When Turcsanyi was little, her family would go to the United States during the Tulip Festival, which is a fond memory for Turcsanyi because she and her grandmother enjoyed going to see the tulips together. Turcsanyi decided to get the tattoo in memory of her grandmother after she passed away. The only thing that she regrets it not getting the tattoo bigger. Turcsanyi plans to get a sleeve, continuing with the flower theme and her son’s birth flower. Turcsanyi’s advice to anyone thinking about getting a tattoo is to make sure it’s meaningful to you and don’t get anything that would make it difficult for you to get a job in a profession you might eventually want, as unfortunately some professions still see tattoos as ‘inappropriate.

David Romani 

Riverside technology education teacher Romani has one tattoo that he got two years ago. He and his wife got matching tattoos that read “Love Always Wins” in Italian. His tattoo is located on his wrist and hers is on her side. Romani and his wife started dating 26 years ago. After dating for a few years, they parted ways but remained friends. Fate brought them together again years later, and they got married. “We call it second chances because you don’t always get second chances in life,” said Romani. Romani’s advice for getting a tattoo is that you should have a conversation with yourself, ask the 65-year-old future version of yourself if you would be happy with your choice.


Sharon McKay

Vice Principal of Riverside McKay has two tattoos; the first one is of an Orca whale which is on her back. McKay’s tattoo symbolizes her move from Ontario to British Colombia when she was finishing university in Ontario. The second tattoo is of a Canadian Maple Leaf, which represents her feeling of appreciation and honour from being a Canadian. McKay moved to Canada from England when she was 14 months old, and she has always been grateful for the opportunities from living in Canada. McKay is planning to get more tattoos but is not sure what she wants to get. McKay said many people comment on the colour and realism of the tattoo. McKay advice to anyone thinking about getting a tattoo is to make sure you know what you want because it will be on you forever.

Jordan Thies 

Gym and math teacher at Riverside Thies has three independent tattoos and a sleeve in the making; the sleeve is only outlined at this point, but will be shaded in. He says that he got his first tattoo when he was around 19 or 20. The first tattoo he got did not really have a meaning it was something he saw and thought looked cool. His second tattoo he got is of his grandfather’s name and the rose on his hand was an art piece Thies really liked. He also got it to commit to getting the sleeve done. Some of the things in his sleeve relate back to his family; it has elements in for his boys and there will be three doves added later representing other people in his family. Some advice Thies has for anyone thinking about getting a tattoo is to do your research, find someone who is credible, and make sure you have the money for a quality artist because you do not want ‘to cheap out on it.’ “If you are getting something meaningful, such as family or the loss of someone you knew, then go for it,” said Thies.

Maddex Marshall

 Grade 11 Maddex has two tattoos, one on his right wrist and one on his left. The tattoos were done right after his sixteenth birthday; Maddex’s first and favourite tattoo is of his father’s date of birth. He got it to honour and carry around a little piece of his father since he has passed away. The second tattoo is of a smiley face which Maddex’s mom asked him to get with her so they could have matching tattoos. Maddex’s does plan on get more tattoos, but he wants to wait until he gets older so as not to have regrets. Some advice that Maddex gives to anyone thinking or planning to get a tattoo is to not pick the first design you see and take some time to think about your decision, so you do not regret it later.


Olivia Knowles

Grade 11 Olivia has two tattoos on her right arm, which she has had for 8 months. Her tattoos were done by her older sister who is a tattoo artist. Since her sister was the artist, Olivia was more of a canvas, and did not have much choice over the art. The first tattoo was inspired by a childhood memory and her dog Appa. When Olivia was little, she would watch Avatar – The Last Airbender with her family. There was a flying bison named Appa in the show which Olivia loved. Olivia’s second tattoo is of a star filled in with a swirl design which she got because her grandfather loved stars. Two things Olivia loves about her tattoos are getting compliments from others and picking up girls with them. “I get so many compliments off them and chicks… kidding.” Olivia plans to get a dragon fly tattoo to honor her aunt, who is struggling with health issues. Olivia’s advice to anyone thinking about a tattoo is to plan and to never get a tattoo of a girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s name or initials.

Laine Spicer 

Music teacher at Riverside Laine Spicer has two tattoos, the first one is of a treble clef which is on her back. Spicer decided to get this tattoo at 18 because of her love for music. The second tattoo is of a willow tree which is located on her lower leg. Spicer got this tattoo when she was 32 and at 37 and added her sons names to the tattoo. There are plans for a future tattoo of a LGBTQ+ symbol behind her ear, but Spicer hasn’t figured out what that will look like. The process of getting both of her tattoos done was about thirty minutes to one hour long. Spicer’s advice for anyone thinking about getting a tattoo is to wait. “Even after you find something you want to get tattooed, take a few years to think it over because in a few years you might not like it any more. As well as, make sure you do your research for tattoos and tattoo artists to find one you like and see how credible they are.”


Feature photo courtesy of University of Victoria .