Tattooing as an Art: Inspirational Quotes

Tattooing your body is one of the most intimate forms of self expression. It is an art form in its own right and your body is the canvas. The following quotes have been compiled to celebrate the art of the tattoo.

Nowadays tattooing, body art or ‘getting inked’ has become an increasingly popular way in which we can express ourselves. The following quotes have been compiled to celebrate the art of the tattoo.

We can all feel the urge to express ourselves creatively at some point in our lives or become part of some bigger tribe and what better way than with something permanent and special to us.

At their best tattoos can be an attractive form of self-expression, a work of art; at worst something we have done on impulse which we might later come to regret.

A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition.
~V.Vale and Andrea Juno, Modern Primitives

A tattoo is made on living skin which does make it unique to the human condition.

Although some animals are tattooed (or branded) this is not something they would choose to have done themselves and is used as an identifier, not for the sake of looking good or expressing themselves. In this way, one can see that a tattoo can be viewed as another extension of who we are.

Show me a man with a tattoo and I'll show you a man with an interesting past.
~Jack London


In Jack London’s time (the author of Call of the Wild and White Fang), tattoos were not as common place as they are nowadays and so his quote was relevant at the time. Apart from sailors, the other group who commonly had tattoos were members of the underworld, prisoners, or ex-cons.

Prison tattoos were often codes or showed a prison ranking or depicted how much time they had done or if they had murdered someone or not. For example, in the Russian prison system if you meet someone with a tattoo of a crucifix on their chest it means they are a ‘Prince of Thieves'; the highest rank a Russian convict can achieve, think of Viggo Mortensen’s character in Eastern Promises (especially the nude fight scene in the steam room).

Nowadays prison tattoos, nearly always done in plain back and blue are still popular.

Tattoos have a power and magic all their own. They decorate the body but they also enhance the soul.
~Michelle Delio

Tattoos can be more than just a bit of body art, and can be quite deep, an extension of the soul if you like.

People don’t just have tattoos because they like a particular design, although of course this can be a reason. Some tattoos are symbolic and mark a life event such as a birth, a death, or a belief system, perhaps even a transition into adulthood or some other important rite of passage in our lives.

Tattooing, when understood in its entirety, must be seen as a religious act. The human being brings forth images from the center of the self and communicates them to the world. Fantasy is embodied in reality and the person is made whole.
~Spider Webb

I love this quote about tattoos. When something comes from your own imagination, when you have a desire to create something, regardless of what it is it has come from your inner being. Nobody else had the exact same thought or vision as you and so once this is brought into reality, you are making yourself and your life more whole. This is the magic of creation at work.

Tattooing is about personalizing the body, making it a true home and fit temple for the spirit that dwells inside it… Tattooing therefore, is a way of keeping the spiritual and material needs of my body in balance.
~Michelle Delio

Even if you happen to have the same tattoo design as another person, your tattoo is unique to you, it is something which has been personalized. This quote is recognizing this and also saying that for the author, body art is a way of harmonizing her inner and outer life balance.

If the body is a temple, then tattoos are its stained glass windows.
~Vince Hemingson


Wow, what a wonderful way to view body art. It is the stained glass windows which let the light into any temple and enhance its aesthetic sacred beauty, and the same can be said of tattoos when comparing the body to a temple.

I always look for a woman who has a tattoo. I see a woman with a tattoo, and I'm thinking, okay, here's a gal who's capable of making a decision she'll regret in the future.
~Comedian Richard Jeni

This is a funny quote about tattoos but it does have a grain of truth in it. If someone appears to be careless or overly impulsive with their body art, it can signify that the person perhaps doesn’t think too far ahead in the future, especially if the tattoos are just daft.

The comedy in this quote is that the author is hoping to get lucky, because he knows that for the woman who agrees to date him, it will be a decision she will soon come to regret.

Tattoos aren't meant for everybody and they're too goddamn good for some people.
~Lyle Tuttle, tattoo artist, author, and lecturer

Tattoos are not for everyone, and whether you love them or hate them, they are personal to each person, regardless of what your opinion may or may not be. Some people love to flaunt their tattoos whereas for others it may be something a lot more private and for that reason their art may be inconspicuous or covered by clothing.

One should not be quick to judge people based upon their tattoos, what is art to one may not be another, and just because someone has a really cool badass tattoo, it’s not necessarily a reflection of them as a person.

Women, don’t get a tattoo. That butterfly looks great on your breast when you’re twenty or thirty, but when you get to seventy, is stretches into a condor.
~Billy Elmer

Another funny quote, but also with a sensible message. It makes sense to think carefully about your tattoo and where it will be, after all, it is something which will be permanently on your body. Do you want to show the tattoo off at all times and on all occasions?

One also needs to bear in mind that there are some parts of our body which are more affected by the passage of time (and body shape change) than others. That sexy little unicorn on your midriff may well turn into a Shire horse if you put on a few pounds.

People have asked me, what about your tattoos when you're ninety? Why would it bother me then? I would still want to get tattooed even when I'm a grandmother.
~Nicole Miller


In contrast to the previous quote many people don’t give a hoot about what a tattoo may or may not look like down the line.

After all, by the time you are ninety your skin will be showing its age in any event, and what better way to decorate it and celebrate who you are than with a tattoo.

Your body is a temple, but how long can you live in the same house before you redecorate?
~Author Unknown

This is a very good point. We all get bored with our look at some point or another. We can alter ourselves constantly by wearing the latest fashions or having our hair done in a different style.

This quote can be read in a number of ways, it may be supporting tattoo art or it could be saying that once you have one, you will inevitably want more and may also find yourself covering older tattoos with newer ones.

Think before you Ink! -Sign often seen in tattoo shops.

I think this is a very wise sign. Regardless of your reasons for having a tattoo one should always think carefully about the design and location of a tattoo, after all it is an expression of who you are, and it may be viewed by others as all that you are.

Something you thought was cool when you were younger may not look as hot as you mature. Those sexy kitten paw prints going down your cleavage that got the guys drooling after you in your twenties, might not be so alluring for a potential employer interviewing you in your forties.

Having said that, it shouldn’t really matter what other people think, as long as you are happy.


Be cool, be smart, and enjoy the art of expressing your unique and wonderful self in whatever way that might be. But whatever you decide to do, remember:

Love lasts forever, but a tattoo lasts six months longer.

What are your thoughts on the art of tattooing?

About the author


Eleanor Goold

As well as being an avid reader, Eleanor is also a big time animal lover; especially of dogs. If you have a tail, four legs and you bark…. you’re in! In her spare time she enjoys swimming, and vegetable gardening… but not at the same time (it can get a bit messy).

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