Tattoo of the Week: Inked in England

Kynslie Otte

Junior brings home permanent personal souvenirs

Junior urban studies and anthropology major Tony Sperruzza considers his two tattoos as souvenirs from a study-abroad trip in England. At age 19, he got both tattoos at the same time, which illustrate a tree on his arm and an equal sign on his wrist.

Though both tattoos are personally symbolic, Sperruzza said his tree tattoo is most significant. His inspiration came from observing an Egyptian papyrus while traveling in Egypt.

“The papyrus was of a tree with different birds in the branches in a circular pattern,” Sperruzza said. “The birds were meant to represent the different stages of life. I really liked it, so I kept the tree and circular pattern, but cut the birds.”

The papyrus illustrated a deeper personal meaning for Sperruzza.

“To me, the tattoo symbolizes how life goes on, the balance of life and peace,” he said. “I also feel that trees are simultaneously masculine and feminine, sturdy and rough, yet grow delicate leaves and flowers. They are a bit of a paradox; deeply rooted in the ground, yet reaching up and forward.”

The smaller equal sign tattoo on Sperruzza’s wrist stands for equality and humanity.

“For anyone who happens to be gay, the coming out process is always a difficult time,” he said. “Getting the tattoo really helped me come to terms with the fact that I am gay and also getting through the coming out process.”

Since he got his tattoos in Canterbury, England, the tattoos cost 80 pounds, which Sperruzza estimated to be roughly $140.

1When asked if there was anything specifically memorable about his tattoo experience, Sperruzza said, “Besides the fact that I got my first tattoo in a foreign country, I just remember some of my fellow student friends coming and staying with me the entire time.”

Sperruzza considered his tattoos painful, especially on the tender area of his wrist.

“It is having needles continuously jabbing you in the skin,” he said. “However, I will say, after getting the one on my wrist, the one on my arm was a walk in the park. I have not very many times felt more pain than getting a tattoo on my wrist.”

The reception of the tattoos by Sperruzza’s family was fairly mild, especially since his tree tattoo can easily be hidden by even short-sleeved shirts.

“When I first came home, my mother was fairly upset, mainly because I paid for them with her money, but she got over it relatively soon,” he said. “Some of my family members still forget I have them, they just always say I am not the kind of person who has tattoos.”

Sperruzza’s friends reacted similarly to his family. He said most people didn’t perceive him as someone who would have tattoos based on the way he dresses and carries himself, but he considers his ink’s personal significance to be worth it.

If you or someone you know has a significant tattoo and would like to be featured in the “Tattoo of the Week” column, contact Mal Hartigan at [email protected] for more information.

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