Second year Austin McKenney’s tattoo of an astronaut on the right side of his ribcage got its start when he was 17. A friend drew him the picture and McKenney told the friend that eventually he would get it tattooed on his body. The friend thought McKenney was joking, but three years and two “very long hours” later, the drawing successfully transformed into a piece of body art. The tattoo was a New Year’s resolution whose completion coincided with McKinney’s 20th birthday celebration in March of this year. McKinney has two other tattoos, one on his forearm and the other on his upper arm; the astronaut marks his second from Slingin’ Ink here in Grinnell. According to McKenney, the artists are very good and willing to work with clients in terms of both price and artistic vision. But beware: when asked if the process hurt, McKenney’s answer was an emphatic “yeah.” Nevertheless, McKenney has plans for future tattoos, including ideas that are currently in the works for a sleeve. As for the inspiration and meaning behind the astronaut tattoo, McKenney said he really just likes outer space because the astronauts have conquered gravity and really, it “can’t get any cooler.”

Photo by Tela Ebersole