Skin & Ink: The Art of Tattoos at SHS

What is art? Often, people describe art as imagination or creation as it is a an expressive element in our world that has been practiced for decades. In the halls of Sterling High School, an artist lives and draws in her spare time, who is noticed now by her ability to draw intricate tattoos for students by request.

“Dylan Drier really jump started the tattoo idea for me because I think freshman year, he would have me draw pictures on his arms,” senior Anna Carroll said. “And so when he was beginning to get his sleeve, he said, ‘Anna, you’re a good artist and this is a very different idea, and I don’t want to copy something off the internet, so would you collab a few pictures and create a tattoo for me?’ I said sure, and I ended up making three more for him.”

Senior Dylan Drier has been interested in getting tattoos for many years, and has started a sleeve on his right arm with many tattoos signifying his norwegian background.

“I’ve had her [Anna] draw on me in the past with pens around freshman year,” Drier said. “We would just mess around in band and then she would normally draw on me. So I figured it would be fitting for her to draw one on me permanently.”

Carroll has been drawing for many years and has been in Derek Schneider’s art class all four years of high school.

“Me being an artist in general, what I use it for on the daily, is a calming therapy factor,” Carroll said. “School, as everyone knows, can be stressful and so whenever I start freaking out, I’ll just pull out my sketch pad and start drawing. He [Derek] has taught me a lot of techniques, and technique is very important in art. It helps you understand your specific style, and it helps you understand what you’re drawing.”

Carroll has won many awards for her art projects at local competitions, including many Merit awards, Judges Choice twice in which the judges go around and pick their favorite piece out of the whole art show, Students Choice once which is where the students go around and vote on their favorite, two first place awards, a second place award, and a third place award. Judges Choice and Students Choice are very important awards to recieve as they are the hardest.

“One thing that is very difficult for me is to accept awards and accept compliments and even to allow people to get my drawings done on them in the form of a tattoo,” Carroll said. “But it’s really encouraging to me because my style has gotten more detailed and better over the years. Just being able to see that though my progress and being able to look back on the awards that I’ve received is very special to me.”

On average, it takes Carroll roughly 10 minutes to 30 minutes to carefully draw the intricate tattoo.  

“The time I spend drawing tattoos for people depends on the piece and how dark they want it,” Carroll said. “Dylan’s seahorse skeleton tattoo took me about half an hour to do because I sketch it out first with just pencil and paper and then I use the micron pens that you can get from the art room. These pens are usually used when doing pointillism and so they have a very fine tip so you can get down to the last details where it is similar to a needle.”

Carroll plans to continue art after high school and even plans to apply it with her future career in mind.

“I will definitely keep drawing as time goes on, just for my own benefit, but I’ve thought about being a freelance artist,” Carroll said. “A lot of people are turning more towards digital work because it’s cheaper. You just have to buy an expensive tablet and pen instead of constantly buying new supplies every month. I have also thought about becoming a tattoo artist in the future, just as a side job as I hopefully go to college for film and cinematography. Art is expensive, but it’s definitely worth it.”