Criminal justice student places tattoos strategically to avoid judgement in future jobs

Although Johnny Rutherford has many tattoos, he especially points to two that represent the love he has for his mother and his appreciation for life.   

“I was 17 years old when I received my first tattoo,” said Rutherford. “My mom did not want me to get any tattoos at first, but I told her the first one would be for her, so she was happy and allowed me to get it. After that, she asked me if that was going to be the last tattoo,” he said with a chuckle.

It was his first tattoo but certainly won’t be his last. Rutherford, 24, reportedly has a total of 25 tattoos. Known as a socialite around the St. Edward’s University community, Rutherford feels none of his tattoos are intimidating, but rather each tattoo has a positive meaning behind them.

“I rarely feel judged in this community because of my character and the type of environment there is here,” said Rutherford. “Plus none of my tattoos are offensive, so a lot of people admire the artwork and concept of some of them.”

Rutherford, a criminal justice major, believes none his tattoos are in any inappropriate areas of his body that can cause trouble in his future job field. He wants to become a police officer in the near future.

“I wouldn’t get any tattoos on my hands, the neck area, and probably below my knees,” said Rutherford. “At first I had them above my shirt sleeve so you couldn’t see them. I had some on my chest and my stomach so that they can be hidden. I chose those places because I didn’t want to risk my chances of getting a job in the future, but after talking to police officers and detectives about the situation, they said it wouldn’t be a big deal if I had some of my arm or forearm area either.”

Rutherford took that advice and now has tattoos on those areas. One of those tattoos on his upper-arm and shoulder area symbolizes the love he has for his mother, Marcella Rutherford.  It is an image of an angel.

“The tattoo of the angel that is on my arm is my most meaningful tattoo because it symbolizes my mother,” said Rutherford. “My mother raised me by herself most of my life which makes her an angel to me.”

Another meaningful tattoo Rutherford has represents Rutherford’s inner desires. It is an image of a grim reaper, which is known to represent death, but can also symbolize to many other things such as luck, bravery, courage, life, a lack of emotions, and fearlessness.  Although these types of tattoos are often looked negatively, Rutherford feels his meaning behind it makes him appreciate life.

“The grim reaper always comes off as a negative tattoo,” said Rutherford. “To me, it symbolizes that you can’t take life for granted. It always reminds me that you cannot beat time.”

Considering the number, size and shapes of Rutherford’s tattoos, he estimates that he has spent $4,000 on tattoos since he got his first tattoo seven years ago. But the financial aspects of his tattoos do not change their significance. 

“Tattoos are an unspoken language that bring different cultures together that can relate in some form of way,” said Rutherford. “It allows me to express myself and display things that mean the most to me in an artwork form.”