Rowan students ink-up at annual Villain Arts Tattoo Covention

The main hall of the Villian Arts Tattoo Convention in Philadelphia. - Staff Photo/ Chris Bludell

Everyone has a different reason why they have a tattoo inked on their body forever (unless perhaps they undergo a painful removal), as evidenced Saturday night at the Villain Arts Convention.

Three women in their early 20s drove down from New York to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the event. Among the trio, there was a noticeable difference in the level of excitement regarding the event.

“It’s my grandma’s handwriting on my ribs,” Michelle Chiudina from Brewster, New York said about a tattoo she got a while ago.

Chiudina had her grandmother’s handwriting traced out by an artist as a way to cope with her abrupt passing. Her mother didn’t approve of this, and to this day it’s Chiudina’s only tattoo.

“My dad had six tattoos, so he was into it,” said Monique Lawler of Paterson, New York.

She has three tattoos, also including a quote regarding a lost grandparent. The tattoo was a saying of her late-grandfather, “Never say goodbye comes with bye means forever.”

“My parents don’t like tattoos, but I got them anyway,” Marissa Dimperio of Stamford, Connecticut said with a laugh. She has six tattoos.

Taron Hampton, a 19 year-old guard for Layfette College’s football team, also attended the convention. Hampton lost a teammate and friend, Ryan Gilliard, his sophomore year of high school while attending St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, a private school in North Philadelphia.

“I got the hawk, which is our mascot, and then in the cross that it’s holding, I have R.G. for his name and number,” Hampton said.

The Delanco, New Jersey native only allowed himself to get a tattoo as a memorial but hinted to possibly an Eagles tattoo if they can get the job done once again.

Outside of sentimental appreciation for tattoos, there are other ways to enjoy them.

“[At] skateboarding and hardcore shows, everyone’s got tattoos and it looks sick,” said Hunter Elm of Richmond, Virginia.

Elm now lives in New York City and works in a tattoo parlor. He made the move a little less than a year ago and has been in the business for a few years. Hunter is unsure of the number of tattoos he has.

Coming from Brooklyn, New York was a married couple of two years, Andrew Hendrix and Jen Winterbotham, who have been together for ten years total. Hendrix has ten or 11 tattoos, and Winterbotham has nine.

“I guess my favorite one is probably my octopus, and my first one is a fish,” Hendrix said.

“My first one was technically a toe tattoo. I got it when I was like 14. Like one of those stick and poke things,” Winterbotham said.

At the Villain Arts Convention, tattoos are celebrated for their creativity, sentiment and novelty. Whether parents approve or not, getting inked is a expression that’s here to stay.

For comments/questions about this story, email or tweet @TheWhitOnline.