Behind the Ink: Wildcats Share the Inspirations Behind Their Tattoos

From quotes to symbolic imagery, tattoos are a way for some BOHS students to express themselves.


Alexis Alexander

Senior Kennedy Morrill and her jack-o-lantern tattoo that she got on her 18th birthday. Students use their tattoos to flaunt objects of personal importance that are etched into their skin permanently.

A tattoo needle pierces the skin — a sentimental quote, a set of significant numbers, a unique floral design. 

For many 18-year olds (the legal age to get a tattoo in California), tattoos express individuality, creativity, symbols of cherished relationships, and serve as milestones into adulthood. 

Senior Kennedy Morrill had “always wanted a tattoo that is meaningful and looks cool and cute” and on Feb. 24, Morrill’s 18th birthday, she acquired her first ink: artwork that reminds her of both her favorite season, fall, and her sister, Madison. Morrill’s tattoo – which is emblazoned on her left bicep – is a skeleton placing a jack-o-lantern on its head, an image from the 2014 cartoon Over the Garden Wall, a favorite show of the Morrill’s. 

(The senior, who got her tattoo in her family friend’s private tattoo studio, only recommends that other teens get tattoos, “if it’s meaningful or if it won’t be regretted in the future.”) 

“Chiquita Grande,” tattooed on senior Faith Knapp’s thigh, is a nickname given to her by her late grandfather. (Alexis Alexander)

Emily Wernli, senior, wanted a tattoo that symbolizes the bond she shares with her sisters Sarah and Hannah. “Whatever we go through, we will stick together,” Wernli said of their relationship. Wernli’s tattoo is located on her ribcage, where her sisters’ initials, along with her own initials, spell out “SHE.” The delicate tattoo reminds Wernli her of her sister’s support and the unity the three will always share.

Wernli got the tattoo at Trigger Happy Tattoo in La Habra, by a family friend’s tattoo artist. “I couldn’t be more in love” with the design and placement of the tattoo, Wernli said. 

Senior Faith Knapp had the words “Chiquita Grande” — a nickname her grandfather called her when she was growing up — tattooed above her knee. She wanted a “meaningful tattoo” to represent the bond she shared with her late grandfather. Knapp got her tattoo done by “a friend of a friend in L.A.”

A small tattoo of the sun adorns senior Mia Quintana’s wrist. The tattoo is special to Quintana because it matches her mom’s and sister’s tattoos. Her mom has “a sun, a moon, and a star” tattoo, so her sister got a moon, Quintana got the sun, and “eventually,” when her brother is older, he will get a star.

Senior Mia Quintana’s tattoo — a family tradition — of the sun. (Alexis Alexander)

Quintana was 16 when she got the tattoo. “I was younger and I wanted to get one and my mom said ‘yes,’” she said. Quintana was tattooed by an artist familiar to the family.

“I think that tattoos are fun, and I would get any tattoo, even if it wasn’t personal,” Quintana said. In the future, she would consider getting more small tattoos because she believes that tattoos are “fun and unique.” 

As an homage to his zodiac sign – Scorpio –  a scorpion is tattooed on senior Dylan Torres’s ribs. He chose to get his first tattoo because “it was something fun to do” and it’s something he’s wanted since he was 16-years old. He chose the scorpion because “it’s something meaningful that is never going to change.” 

Dylan Torres’s Scorpio tattoo. (Courtesy of Dylan Torres)

“My tattoo artist, Brian, [and I] sat down and designed the tattoo from scratch because I wanted it to be realistic and not very cartoon-like,” Torres said. The detailed tattoo — which he got at Action Tattoo in Yorba Linda — is located in “one of the most painful spots,” the side of his torso.  

“Tattoos are a fun way of expressing yourself,” Torres said. He enjoys “having artwork on [his] body” and recommends that others get tattoos to exhibit their personality in a unique way. 

For many students — like Morrill, Wernli, Quintana, and Torres — tattoos are a way to display their passions, imaginations, and personalities. Whether a quote or a symbolic object, the ink is an important means of self-expression.