Tattoo Tuesday: sleeves of memory

Tattoo Tuesday: sleeves of memory

Leone's tattoo to honor Cory. (Photo by Katie Panopoulos)

Leone’s tattoo to honor Cory. (Photo by Katie Panopoulos)

Sophomore Steve Leone has vacationed in Myrtle Beach every summer since he was eight years old. Although only a couple of weeks out of the year, he has formed close friendships with all the other vacationers, one in particular named Cory.

“Cory was one of my best friends even though I only saw him every two weeks each year, but I didn’t know that would be the last time,” Leone said.

Leone received tragic news his freshman year of high school: Cory had committed suicide. This led him to get his first tattoo at only 16 years old. He decided the song lyrics “I’ve got some friends, some that I hardly know, but we’ve had some times I wouldn’t trade for the world”  from “Swing Life Away” by Rise Against reflected their friendship both simplistically and beautifully. The quote on his right arm is a positive reminder to enjoy the time spent with others because nobody knows what tomorrow holds.

“I’ve always liked that lyric,” Leone said. “It just instantly reminded me of the whole situation, so I knew immediately I wanted this tattoo.”

His lion tattoo.

His lion tattoo. (Photo by Katie Panopoulos)

Once Leone got his first tattoo, there was no turning back. Two years later, he was ready to get another one, one that was big, visible and symbolized his family. He chose a lion to be tatted on his left forearm. Leone means lion in Italian. His father used to own a pizza place called “Leone’s” in a plaza called “Lions,” adding even more significance to his tattoo. He did some research and found an incredible artist, Ian Griffiths, to do his tattoo, who had previously worked with Meek Mill and Rick Ross. The tattoo took five hours, but Griffiths managed to finish it in one sitting. At first he was a little nervous about his decision, but once it healed he was in love with it.

Leone felt incomplete with only half of his arm covered with the lion and was determined to fill that void. He had two elaborate roses tattooed on the back of his forearm to symbolize his grandmothers.

“I decided the right arm represented friends and the left would symbolize my family,” Leone said.

As much as his grandmothers did not want him to continue to get tattoos, they appreciated these ones very much. The roses took around six hours to complete, but he got the first rose done and the outline of the second rose in just one sitting. With each tattoo Leone was left craving another one.

“I eventually want to get full sleeves on both arms and continue on my chest, but I need some time to think of what I would really want,” Leone said. “I know I will want intricate and beautiful tattoos, because tattoos are a form of art.”


The roses representing Leone’s grandmothers. (Photo by Katie Panopoulos)

Leone made the choice to have his story drawn across his body. What started as a lyric to commemorate a dear friend evolved into a left arm covered in representations of his family. Tattoos are a fascinating way to tell a story about someone’s life and the mystery behind them makes them even more unique. They are a permanent symbolization of one’s life that is important to them.


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Authored by: Katie Panopoulos

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