Out-of-state students surprised by quality of Utah tattoos

Kenzi Wissler, a Utah native who is working on becoming a tattoo artist, shows off her ink. Because of Utah’s predominantly religious culture, some out-of-state students at Westminster College said they have been surprised by the number of tattoos Utahns have and by the quality of their ink. Photo by Christian Anderson.

Kenzi Wissler, a Utah native who is working on becoming a tattoo artist, shows off her ink. Because of Utah’s predominantly religious culture, some out-of-state students at Westminster College said they have been surprised by the number of tattoos Utahns have and by the quality of their ink. Photo by Christian Anderson.

Nearly half of Westminster College's student body comes from out of state. Though there cultural surprises often come when moving states, some of these students said one thing they didn't expect was Salt Lake City's tattoo culture, which boasts more than 30 tattoo shops they said have high-quality tattoos for a reasonable price.

Daniel Devore, a sophomore mathematics major, said he got his first tattoo in Pennsylvania before he knew about the quality and price of tattoos in Utah. 

“When I got to campus as a freshman, I was amazed at the tattoos I was seeing,” Devore said. "The quality is the main difference with the tattoos here. The tattoos here are colorful and big in size, without killing your pocket too much from those who I asked about the cost. Back home, some of the bigger tattoos will cost you. I kind of wish I got mine here, but I didn't think anyone would have any.”

Assuming people in Utah, with its dominant religion influences from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would not have tattoos, Devore said he waited until he went home for his first break to get tattooed. 

“With me living in the dorms, I saw how many people on campus had tattoos, and a bunch of them were from Utah,” Devore said. “So when I got home, I got my first tattoo. I wanted it to represent where I go to school, so I got the Griffin tatted on me.”

Kenneth Woodward, a justice studies graduate from Westminster, said he has also noticed the difference in tattoo quality compared to his hometown of Richmond, California.

“Where I’m from, you can get a tattoo for really cheap,” he said. “The quality might not be there, but most people back home don’t care about that; they just want to have a tattoo. I noticed for the most part that in Utah getting a tattoo is more of a process and the quality of the tattoos are better."

Harrison Jones, a sophomore from Spokane, Washington who is studying pre-med, doesn't have tattoos but said he was surprised when he noticed how many students on campus do.

“Where I live, tattoos aren’t exactly the hottest trend," Jones said. "I also would just hate for me not to get a job in the future because of a tattoo. One thing I noticed in Utah is that a lot of people my age on campus have at least one tattoo by now, which took me by surprise.”