Tattoo Tuesday: Beyond Simple Ink

Student pictured smiling at CSUN
Dominic Johnson, a 22-year-old sociology major got his first tattoo when he was only fifteen years old. (Ashley Grant/The Sundial) Photo credit: Ashley Grant

Dominic Johnson, a 22-year-old sociology major, created his second tattoo by combining his family’s heritage with various meaningful aspects of his life.

At the age of 15, Johnson stepped into his friend’s garage and got his first tattoo, but for his second he decided to go to a shop.

“The tattoo took three hours,” Johnson said. “The guy went through it really fast because I had already drawn it. All he had to do was copy it and put it on my skin.”

During his senior year of high school, Johnson began to draw up ideas for his next tattoo and after a couple weeks of back and forth, he found himself creating a work of art that held deep, sentimental meanings.

“My best tattoo is an Ankh, which is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic,” Johnson said. “The pharaohs would hold this symbol in the hieroglyphics to show that they had a connection with God and a connection to eternal life.”

Johnson didn’t stumble upon the idea of getting an Ankh, but was inspired by his family members that had it already tattooed on them.

“A lot of my family members have the Ankh as a tattoo so I wanted to incorporate the it with a lot of stuff going on in my life,” Johnson said. “I originally just drew the Ankh and filled in the rest later.”

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Johnson’s tattoo has more than eight different symbols intertwined within a traditional Egyptian Ankh. (Ashley Grant/The Sundial) Photo credit: Ashley Grant

The outside of the Ankh appears traditional, but for the inside and the area that surrounds this hieroglyphic, there is much more to the tattoo than an eye can see.

At the bottom of the Ankh is Johnson’s nickname, DOM and right above the small script is an eye.

“The eyes are the windows to the soul,” Johnson said. “Whenever you see me I hope you can see not just me, but know about me as I look back at you.”

Above the eye lay three letters: TJW, which represents Johnson’s two parents, Tracy Johnson and Warren Johnson.

“My father passed away when I was fifteen years old,” Johnson said. “That was about the time I got my first tattoo.”

In the horizontal piece along the Ankh is an electrocardiogram or EKG pulse symbol that reminds Johnson that life is short and that he must focus on his health in order to live a full life.

“I have a heart issue called supraventricular tachycardia. It basically means that I have an irregular heartbeat that forces my heart to stop,” Johnson said. “There has actually been a couple times where my heart has stopped while I was playing sports.”

After the near death experiences, Johnson knew he had to start to live his life to the fullest, but still pay close attention to his health.

Toward the top of the tattoo, Johnson has three symbols that keep him balanced and constantly reminded to enjoy all that is life.

“I have two grains of wood on the top of the Ankh that symbolize that I am always growing and on the left and right side of the wood there are two music symbols to say that there is always music playing and to keep rhythm in my life,” Johnson said.

Johnson enjoys telling people about his tattoo and about all the meanings he was able to incorporate in his personal ink masterpiece.

With just two tattoos, Johnson is content with what he has, but hopes that he will continue to remember the meaning behind each aspect of his ink.