Tattoo Tales: Joshua Woolcott

Hannah Perry, Arts & Life Editor

“Tattoo Tales” is an ongoing series that features BVU students’ tattoos and the stories behind them.  

Freshman Joshua Woolcott is not the type of person to get anything random permanently marked on his body. With the two tattoos on his outer bicep and inner forearm, a lot of thought and meaning went into the artwork.   

Woolcott spent a year and a half concocting the concept for his first tattoo. Inspired by his favorite bible quote, he resorted to the internet to find an image to pair it with and decided on a cross made up of multiple nails. Despite having an idea that was seemingly set in stone, he quickly learned that there were more hurdles ahead of him.   

The only person in Woolcott’s family who does not have tattoos is his mother. Ironically, she was the most lenient when it came to him getting one when he was 16 years old. On the other hand, his father, with over eight tattoos, rejected the idea in fear that he would regret his decision when he was older.  

“To get my first tattoo, it was actually easier to convince my mom versus my dad,” Woolcott said. “It took 15 minutes for me to convince her, but my dad said ‘absolutely not, we are not letting you get one when you are 16. You should think about it more.’ Eventually, I showed him my design and that it stayed consistent for a long amount of time.”   

Seeing how committed his son was, Woolcott’s father finally agreed to let him get his first tattoo and offered to be there with him. Since Iowa maintains a strict policy of not tattooing minors, the next step for the father-son duo was to find an artist in Nebraska.   

Setting off on a two-hour drive to the neighboring state, they searched for studios that would tattoo minors with parental consent. After multiple failed attempts, Woolcott felt discouraged, so they decided to start driving home. 15 minutes later, he received a message from his older brother asking for an update. He explained the situation and was met with a suggestion.   

“I told him that we couldn’t find a place that would do it because they don’t tattoo minors,” Woolcott said. “He said that his wife knows a place where she was tattooed before she was 18, so I looked it up and we went there.”   

As they arrived at the referred studio, Woolcott explained what he wanted on his right inner bicep. Although he had spent so long crafting the perfect design, he allowed the artist to take creative liberties with the shading and font.   

Within the two years since getting his first tattoo, Woolcott was already thinking about his next one. This time, it took much less traveling and convincing.   

“I have always been a fan of armband tattoos,” Woolcott said. “By my 18th birthday, I had already been looking at armbands for about a year and found some I really wanted. I went to Warrior Tattoo in Waukee and had a consultation with them where I gave them my design and idea. I scheduled my appointment for my birthday—it was a gift to myself.”  

Woolcott was presented with several designs with geometric patterns on the day of his appointment. After choosing his favorite, he spent a large chunk of his day at the studio, which started to take a toll on his tattoo artist.   

“This one took about five hours,” Woolcott said. “Him staring at the shapes so closely for so long gave him a headache, so he had to take breaks every now and then.”   

Stopping at two tattoos is not Woolcott’s plan. He does not think he will be covered head to toe, but his goal is to have artwork on each limb. For his upcoming tattoo, he has drawn inspiration from his love of technology.   

“The next tattoo I’m planning on getting is on my back that’s based on computers, so it will kind of look like a motherboard. It will start centered on my back where my heart is and branch out in multiple directions. I am a big technology person, so I guess I could say that technology is close to my heart. That is the only one I have planned right now,” Woolcott said.