Typographic Tattoos

Posted: March 18, 2007 by Andreas Engel in Misc.
Tags: , ,

Q: What do you think about the new trend of typographic tattoos?
I see so many of them everywhere…

Mj: The written, nonverbal structured method of human expression using words as a conventional means of communication is sometimes upstaged by a tattoo of a single distinct WORD. More...The conviction of permanently making literal statements and the strength that is gained with words like Love and Truth seem to be common choices. Single words like YES or NO and a loved ones name hidden in spiraling flourishes often go unnoticed.

Angelina Jolie has a tattoo that says, “know your rights”, David Beckham’s tattoos show the names of his kids, and Guy Pearce was covered with tattoos for his role in Memento. From cryptic words to patriotic decrees, typographic tattoos are everywhere. Graphic designer Ina Saltz documents the growing fascination with body typography from sports team logos and literary quotes to single letters and punctuation marks. Poems, quotes, scriptures and familiar phrases take on new meaning.

Book hounds like me will need to make room on your Body ART shelf. BJ Bett’s tattooing and lettering chops are the subject of his Lettering Guide book. B J has a no nonsense approach to sharing his knowledge and techniques. His lettering styles range from a variety of traditional tattoo block upper case alpha-Betts found in hearts and banners to fancy script and Gothic Old English rocker fonts. The various techniques to adding flourishes and shading create a one of a kind result.

House Industies, the internationally recognized, independent digital typeface, design and illustration studio has completed BJ’s second volume. Owner/art director Andy Cruz and owner/operator Rich Roat are the driving force behind a cast of creative characters that are the end all in type design. House features the font gurus of the century known for their distinctly American pop culture aesthetic and exploration of diverse themes ranging from historic Las Vegas signage to the custom car artwork of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and the lettering of Modern architect Richard Neutra. The company’s devotion to authenticity and craftsmanship has won praise from graphic designers, major advertising agencies and hot rod enthusiasts alike. Their software packages and tenth anniversary book are ready-made for tattooists. With a click of that mouse, outlines come flying out ready to make a stencil. They have all the Kool stuff from Coop, Shag, horror and the crowd pleasing favorite TIKI type.

One stop shopping for inspiration to create a tattoo with letters and or words can be found between the covers of a new book from Abrams IMAGE. BODY TYPE Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh. It is a hard bound 200 pages with 225 color photographs of, you guessed it, totally typographic tattoos documented over the past two years by Ina Saltz, a typographic expert. It includes tattooed quotes from James Joyce, Walt Whitman, Ghandi, TS Eliot, ee cummings, and others, as well as song lyrics, typographic logos, political screeds and biblical passages, odes to loved ones, epigrams, mottos and personal mantras. Saltz’s thesis is that many of the tattoo artists are now educated in design and typography, and their patrons are typographically aware as well, having become familiar with type design through the fonts available on their computers. Many pre-design their own tattoos, printing them out and bringing them to the artist to execute. She feels it may just be that the specificity of the written word is appealing to those who wish to communicate their messages very directly.
Body Type: Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh the first book devoted entirely to typographical tattoos. Ina explores the ideas and emotions behind this indelible commitment. The book is a collection of photography and commentary on these indelible letterforms, as well as assembled personal recollections by the tattooed on the motivations for their choices of words and or phrases. From Shakespeare to Radiohead, from celebrations of love and self to homage and memorial, the variety of messages provides an insight into the human condition.

From the first amendment indelibly etched on the hand of tattooist Richard ‘Bone Daddy’ Poole to the word SKIN concealed inside the lower lip of body mod devotee Lindsay, make up the short list of inspiration, motivation, innovation, ingenuity, genius, imagination, originality, artistry, insight, vision, finesse and flair about words, phrases, quotations and text offered as a catalyst for a meaningful indelible mark.
And so it goes every hour of every day, tattooists the world over are writing on the body.

Phil Holt Traitor Tattoo Shirt
Phil Holt’s Traitor Tattoo Shirt is a classic example of a popular typographic tattoo style.

Kim Saigh Serenity Tattoo Shirt
★ Kim Saigh conveys femininity with script tattoo writing in her Serenity Tattoo Shirt for Women.

::: Post a question to Matty J. here

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