Second year Cristal Coleman’s tattoo of a black swan was two years in the making.  In 2010 she saw the movie Black Swan, in which a prima ballerina is caught up in the restrictive and high-stakes world of ballet.  Seeing parallels to some restrictions in her own life, she wanted to get a tattoo of a black swan but thought it would never become a reality.  She did more research on the symbolism and significance of the black swan and learned that swans are typically thought of as white.  The black swan is unique, edgy, and powerful.  On August 23rd of last year, she walked away from Slingin’ Ink Tattoos in Grinnell after two hours of pain with a black swan on the left side of her torso. It was especially meaningful because it was “one of my first grown-up decisions,” she said.  More than that, her black swan is a symbol that “Black is beautiful.” After waiting for two years to get the tattoo, Coleman’s tattoo has not disappointed; it is as edgy and unique as the Grinnellian who wears it.
—Compiled and photographed by Ellen Schoenmaker

Photo by Ellen Schoenmaker