Tat-Tuesday: Students share stories behind their ink


Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

Nathan Leclear

Graduate student Nathan Leclear’s grandparents were a huge part of his childhood. Leclear said he remembers always feeling close to his grandparents because of the large hand they had in raising him. When they passed away, he felt that a tattoo would be a good way to remember their love.  

“I got it when my grandmother passed away, and  (my grandparents’) name was Hopper,” Leclear said. “She was the last of those grandparents to pass.” 

The Hoppers’ memory live on in Leclear’s mind—everytime he looks down at his leg, he’s reminded of some of the fondest moments of his childhood.

“(My favorite memory of them was) canning apple butter with grandma and playing Wiffle Ball with grandpa,” Leclear said.

Emily Rees

A lifelong love of coffee and biology led graduate student Emily Rees to get a tattoo that would combine both of her interests.

“It’s basically all the biology of coffee,” Rees said. “I study plant biology, I got a BS in Biology and a BA in Chemistry, and coffee has always been a large part of my family.”

Growing up, Rees’ family wouldn’t gather around a dinner table or in front of the  television, but around a pot of coffee. Each person was forced to learn to like the taste of black coffee with the exception of one.

“Whenever our family got together socially, it was always around a coffee pot,” Rees said. “But the only person allowed to put cream and sugar in my household is my grandpa. Everyone else had to drink it black because my mom believes that it is wasteful.”

Sydney Benator

When nutrition junior Sydney Benator’s grandmother passed away, Benator’s mother wanted a tattoo to commemorate her passing, but it took a few years and Sydney’s accompaniment to join in. 

“We got it in honor of my grandma, who passed away five years ago,” Benator said. “My mom has been wanting a tattoo for 10 years, and I got it with her.”

The tattoo of the words “that’s nice” comes from a story Sydney’s grandmother used to tell. It involved two elderly women having a prolonged conversation, with one woman bragging about her worldly possessions and the other woman, who does not care, continuously responding “that’s nice.” 

“Essentially, when she’d say that in a Southern twang type of way, it meant ‘fuck you, I don’t care,’” Benator said. “And it was my mom’s way of saying ‘fuck you, I don’t care’ to all the women who told her not to.”

To Sydney, the tattoo closely relates to her own view of the world.

“I try not to look at how people think about me. I don’t think there’s any need to talk about what you have,” Benator said. “Talk about stories, things that have happened to you, pop culture, political culture. I love to talk about food.”

Levi Joseph

After Levi Joseph’s roommate made a joke about giving a free math-related tattoo, the Plan II and business junior took him up on the offer.

“This past summer I discovered that I really like math,” Joseph said. “And my roommate has a joke that he’ll give any tattoo for free as long as it’s a math tattoo. So I just asked my roommate, and he gave me a tattoo on my living room couch.”

His roommate had previous experience with stick-and-poke tattoos, a time-consuming but easy method of tattooing which uses a sterile needle, tattoo ink and drawing dot-by-dot.

The most impactful meaning of his tattoo comes from an analogy he heard once involving a line’s slope mattering more than its intercept.

“The idea of slope beats intercept is kind of long-winded, but it’s a powerful analogy,” he said. “So there are two lines, and if the slope of one line is greater than the starting point of the other line, it’ll eventually overcome it.”