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UM Ink

“Okay, take off your pants first”

“Okay, take off your pants first”

Yuri Meesen (27), from Brunssum, is a junior journalist at Observant. He wrote the previous 18 instalments in our tattoo series. He has three tattoos himself, the most recent on his thigh. “My friends were shocked by the size of it.” Okay, take off your pants first. Good Lord. His right thigh is entirely covered. He got it on King&r...

“In Brighton, yellow mohawks, tattoos, piercings and brightly coloured clothing are the rule rather than the exception”

“In Brighton, yellow mohawks, tattoos, piercings and brightly coloured clothing are the rule rather than the exception”

Last autumn Esmee Halmans (21), a third-year student at University College Maastricht, traded in the familiar Maastricht for Brighton, England, where she went on exchange for a semester. To commemorate the experience, she got a tattoo of a wave on the inside of her left ankle. “Moving to Brighton was a big step for me. It was the first tim...

“If I keep on moving, a second sleeve will be unavoidable”

“If I keep on moving, a second sleeve will be unavoidable”

Second-year psychology student Anne Friesacher (21) is Austrian, but she has never lived there. For every country she has lived in, she has a symbol on her sleeve: a tattoo that covers her entire left arm. “My father works for Shell, and our family moved all over the world. I’ve always gone to international schools. Constantly changi...

“The feedback was that my accent was ‘too ghetto’”

“The feedback was that my accent was ‘too ghetto’”

Ridwan ‘Rid’ Babalola (24), master’s student in Economics from the UK, has a tattoo of the word ‘Free’ on his ribs. “After I finished my bachelor’s degree in 2015 I worked for a while as a recruiter in London. Before I started there I had to do several workshops and the trainer gave us feedback on things...

“When times are tough I just want to shut myself off in a cabin in the woods”

“When times are tough I just want to shut myself off in a cabin in the woods”

Paulus Dassen (48) has been a concierge at the Student Services Centre since the start of the academic year. Fifteen years ago, he got a wolf’s head tattooed on his left shoulder blade. “I’ve been through a lot in my life. In 1993 I lost my left index finger in an accident at work in a factory. It got trapped between the knives...

“All of a sudden DJ Hardwell showed up”

“All of a sudden DJ Hardwell showed up”

Dayten Crijns (19) is a first-year student of International Business. One year ago he had the name of his brother and the logo and motto of his own company tattooed on his chest. “Three years ago I started an event agency, Intensss Events. It’s already brought me so much that I wanted to have that reflected on my body somehow. When I...

“The jam jar reminds me of my grandmother”

“The jam jar reminds me of my grandmother”

Phil Blades (23, UK), a second-year student of Arts and Culture, already has quite a collection of tattoos, even on his fingers. One of the most recent is on the inside of his upper arm: a jar of jam and the words ‘No more bad days’, a song by the American band This Wild Life. “My family lives on a farm in the middle of Yorkshi...

“The tattoo took seven sessions of three hours each”

“The tattoo took seven sessions of three hours each”

In 2013 Nadine Hillwig (25, Germany), a third-year psychology student, took a life-changing trip to India. To make sure she never forgot it, she got a ‘backpiece’: a tattoo of an elephant covering her entire back. “My then boyfriend and I had booked a trip to India. Two days before we were due to leave, he sent me a text messag...

“Life seems very bleak and I don’t see the joy in anything”

“Life seems very bleak and I don’t see the joy in anything”

Marta Rusakiewicz (20, Poland), second-year student of European Law, got a tattoo of a compass rose on her ribs when she was 18. It was something she felt she ‘had’ to do. “I’ve been a sad person my whole life; my brain doesn’t produce happy hormones. Life seems very bleak and I don’t see the joy in anything. ...

Not one missed Dutch Springsteen concert since 1985

Not one missed Dutch Springsteen concert since 1985

Philip Kalisvaart (57) is process coordinator for collection management at the University Library and, in his own words, an “extreme fan” of Bruce Springsteen. In 2016 he had the words of two of Springsteen’s songs tattooed on his upper arms: ‘Thunder road’ on the right and ‘Two hearts’ on the left. &ldq...

“They thought it was a subcutaneous worm"

“They thought it was a subcutaneous worm"

Thomas Fuller (41), PhD candidate in the Department of Clinical Psychological Science at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, has on his side a tattoo of a bird’s-eye view of the River Thames and several London parks. It is done entirely in white ink. “I was a social worker in London from the age of 24 to 26. I’m from Au...

“Good parents to me, but horrible to each other”

“Good parents to me, but horrible to each other”

Greek-Italian Rita Platanos (19), a first-year student of International Business, always wanted a tattoo. She took the plunge when she moved out. On her left upper arm she has a traditional-style tattoo of an open hand encircled by a snake. “My parents divorced when I was less than a year old and have had a bad relationship for as long as ...

 "I was surprised we were still alive"

"I was surprised we were still alive"

Johan Strijckers (48), project leader of programmes and new media at the Maastricht city council, got his first tattoo in 2001. Today, they cover a big part of his chest, back and both his arms. His right forearm, both top and bottom, is filled with the image of a broken hourglass, the Death card of the Tarot deck pierced by a dagger, a pair of win...

“Getting high marks isn’t everything in life”

“Getting high marks isn’t everything in life”

Erik Kikas, second-year student of Psychology and Neuroscience from Estonia, is just 21, but he already has an impressive collection of tattoos. The second one he had done runs from his shoulder halfway down his right arm: an owl with a clock and the words ‘Enjoy every moment’. “When I was thirteen and fourteen I was so stresse...

“My mom and I always fight, but when she’s not here, I miss her terribly.”

“My mom and I always fight, but when she’s not here, I miss her terribly.”

On the upper left arm of Elif Erkul (20), third-year Economics and Business Economics student from Turkey, is an image of a crescent moon with a pair of arrows pointing to two sets of coordinates: those of Maastricht and of Ankara. “When my mother and I are around one another, we always fight. But when she’s not here, I miss her terr...

“It wouldn’t do for them to confuse me in court for the suspect”

“It wouldn’t do for them to confuse me in court for the suspect”

Legal psychologist and researcher dr. Henry Otgaar (34) has no shortage of tattoos, the most meaningful of which covers his entire chest. When he leaves his top two buttons open, it can be seen peeking out from his shirt: a tiger head with a kris – a traditional Indonesian dagger – and a pair of crossed machetes. “I’ve be...

"By cutting myself, at least I felt something"

"By cutting myself, at least I felt something"

Raneesha De Silva (24) is a master’s student of Forensic Psychology. On the inside of her left wrist is a tattoo of an infinity symbol and a semicolon covering a number of scars. She started cutting herself when she was fifteen. “People tend to think this kind of self-harm comes from mental disorders, depression or stress; that wasn&...

A metal arm, 32 stitches, and a body full of bruises

A metal arm, 32 stitches, and a body full of bruises

George Srouji (19), a first-year psychology student from Greece, was a hooligan of the AEK Athens football club during his early teens. On his left arm he has a tattoo of a lion’s head. “After matches we’d fight the supporters of rival teams or arrange to meet in quiet places to have a brawl. For the adrenaline and for fun. If ...

"Every time I look at my tattoo I think of the life lessons I learnt in Africa"

"Every time I look at my tattoo I think of the life lessons I learnt in Africa"

Marieke Hopman (28), PhD candidate at the law faculty, has a tattoo on the inside of her left wrist, the size of a euro coin, of the silhouette of a bird of prey. “In 2016, I went to the Central African Republic (CAR) twice to do fieldwork for my research on children’s rights, the right to education in particular. One time I was talk...