The skin I live in.

Skin up, pin up: Some of the books people take inspiration from for their inky tributes.

Bit of a specialist one this blog. If you love books, then please continue to read. If you have an interest in tattoos then please, do carry on too. But what I wanted to discuss with you is what happens when both these worlds collide. Answer… something like this, which I found whilst idly browsing recently on t’interweb.

Being a connoisseur of some things literary, most things popular culture and all things tattoo, I feel I can critique some of the tattoo art that has been famed on this website. Looking at the ones of verses, there’s something about a whole limb which has been taken up by simple black script I find very beautiful. Providing it’s not, for example, a Piggyback game guide or similar which thankfully I don’t think anyone has had. (No offense to the good people at Piggyback). But skin was made for the prose of Dickens and Byron, so this without question gets my vote (as long as it’s legible).

As I scrolled down the page the most popular pieces it seems are much-loved children’s books and cartoons. We have a fondness for remembering the stories that made us happy when we were children which have still haunted us in our adulthood, and in tribute we have had the images of countless, not to mention the most eccentric, authors’ imaginations etched onto our skin for the rest of our lives. The Curious George ones look rather amazing, and of course the simplistic-yet-beautiful drawings of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s Le Petit Prince make for beautiful skin art with the colours of deep purple, bright yellow and oceanic blue all coming together. One very popular children’s tale seems to serve for endless inspiration for tattoos – Lewis Carroll’s timeless Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which further reinforces my personal belief that those stories with a vast array of wonderful characters and limitless fantasy are most used in literary tattooing. A possible explanation for this could be because in an ensemble cast, there’s bound to be one you will identify with.

Arguably not every children’s classic story makes for elegant ink. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury I give you exhibit a: Winnie the Pooh tattoos. Let me establish quickly I am a fan of AA Milne’s small, red-shirted, fat honey-loving bear and his friends of the Hundred Acre Wood. My favourite character is Rabbit. Many parallels I have always seen in him as like me he is quick to react, highly opinionated and gets worked up almost instantly. However even my admiration for these characters cannot condone the justification of the horrendous act of Pooh n’ Tigger tattoos. No matter how much shading or fine needles are used no-one should ever get Winnie the Pooh or any associated characters tattooed on themselves. At the risk of sounding snobbish, I apply this only to the Disney incarnations. I would definitely put them into Room 101 as they are hideous and they are the sort of tattoo people get done when they don’t know what else to get done and I for one think they should be prohibited.

And so we move onto other greats of literature whom have no doubt been increased in their popularities by their enormously successful film franchises. I have often thought about getting some kind of tribute to the world of Harry Potter on me. I probably will do, but at the moment I have yet to decide exactly what. I absolutely love the word ‘Always’, which was tattooed in tribute to the answer Snape gives Professor Dumbledore when asked if he still loves Lily Potter. Not too sure how I feel about the enormous back tattoo of Dumbledore next to – Lord have mercy, the worst kinds of tattoo ever conceived on this earth – tribal. JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, with its huge universe of hobbits, wizards, elves and orcs makes for interesting tattoos and it seems that the possibilities are endless in how people want the famous trilogy immortalised on them. Going a bit further down the page I was really happy to see someone had had El-ahrairah the rabbit from Watership Down on them which in the same vein as the Lord of the Rings, has a great amount of visualisation thanks to the iconic film created from the book.

Matilda, by Roald Dahl.

The Marzipan Pig, by Russell Hoban.

Well I need to justify my opinions and I do so now dear readers through the medium of photography. Here you can see two of my literary tattoos; Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Russell Hoban’s the Marzipan Pig, both illustrated by Quentin Blake. Fantastic.

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