Hello again from your friendly not-so-neighborhood tattoo artist! Even though I am no longer working in the industry. Tattoos are a large part of my life. My time in the studios was something I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I’m grateful to be able to impart the knowledge I gained through my years as a tattooer to others.
All art/tattoo/sketch work depicted here are either my work or on my body and photos are my own. Please do not copy or use without express permission.
Today I want to discuss the infamous ‘Name Tattoo’. When I was tattooing full time, I probably had at least one request for a name tattoo every day. On the flip side of that, I also had several clients per week coming in for cover-up work. Can you guess what 80% of cover-up tattoos I executed during my career as a tattoo artist are covering? You guessed it. Names.
Here I will be covering many reasons why someone may want to get a name tattooed on their body, things to consider before committing to this type of tattoo, as well as a few alternatives to the name tattoo. I am in no way telling you what you should or shouldn’t have tattooed on your body. In the end, it is your tattoo, and above all, I encourage you to express yourself as you see fit. My objective here is to help you make an informed decision, by laying out the whole picture.
There are so many reasons people consider getting a name emblazoned in ink on their bodies. The most common of which are:
- Love. Meeting that special someone who compliments you in every way. You have been through so much together. You want to show the world that they are yours!
I’m not trying to say that your relationship isn’t great. I am so happy for you that you have found someone who makes you feel this way, and I wish you two nothing but the best of everything, and a full, happy life together. However. The fact remains that the future is not guaranteed. This is my number one situation where I urge people to really heavily consider the fact that tattoos are permanent. There is one major thing that happens often with name tattoos that are done for this reason.
The relationship ends. In situations like this, the tattoo sometimes ends up being a sad reminder of what went wrong, or maybe it’s not an issue at all until years later, in another relationship, it becomes a regret, and in situations like this, the wearer often comes in looking to get it covered up. Depending on where on the body it was, and how big it is, this could prove difficult. Especially if it was a part of another image (one example of this would be if the name is inside a ribbon flowing over another object), or close to other tattoos that the wearer wishes to remain intact.
Really give some serious thought to name tattoos when the name is someone you are in a relationship with. If you do decide to do this, consider carefully the placement, and composition of your tattoo. Consider keeping tattoos of this nature small, so that if the unthinkable happens, and you find yourself no longer wanting this on your body, that it is easier to get cover-up/removal work done, or that you can simply cover it with your normal clothing, with no one the wiser. Another option would be to consider getting something to symbolize the relationship you have with that person, maybe even a couple’s tattoo so both of you have a piece. This way, no matter what happens, it will be an image that only YOU know the backstory to, that reminds you of the good stuff. This is what my husband and I did. I have a lock, and him a key. The neatest part of this for me was that since I am a body artist, I got to do his part of our tattoo myself! Another nice thing about going with a symbolism tattoo is that if you decide to get more work around it, it is much easier to incorporate your piece into future work, as you can see below in the photo of my husband’s and my tattoos. He is in the process of having his arm sleeved, and his new work is flowing nicely around the key that I tattooed on him earlier.
This brings me to the next one.
- Children/Family. Your children are your reason for living. Your sister/brother is your best friend and confidant. Your parents gave you the tools to become the person you are and are proud to be!
Now HERE is the perfect reason to get a name tattooed on your body. Your children and family are already a part of you and you want to show them off! Good for you! I LOVE this! There are still some things to think about with these tattoos though.
You want something that truly does justice to your loved one. Make sure that the lettering is well done, and that this tattoo has in it the spirit of the person that you are honoring.
If it is a parent, a great idea is to do their signature. There are a few different ways to go about a signature. You can go with the one they use when applying their John Hancock to whatever it is that they are signing, or (and this is my personal favorite), you can bring in an old birthday or holiday card from your parents and have the tattoo be of the way they sign off to you in it. Signature tattoos always lend a personal touch, and it’s like they wrote it in your skin personally, for you to take wherever you go. This idea works equally well for siblings, and for parents of a single child who is just learning to write their name.
If it’s your child/children, there are other things to take into account. You may be wanting that ultimate Mom or Dad tattoo. These are sizable pieces that not only include one or more name(s) but also depict something that, as a parent, reminds you of your kids. These are such wonderful tattoos. I loved tattooing them mainly because of all the love that goes into the design process and all the stories I get from loving parents during the sessions. One thing I urge parents to consider when doing these tattoos is: Are you done having kids? If you are, great! We can design something to include them all in one grand and love packed statement. If not, maybe consider coming up with an idea, but not executing it until everyone is accounted for. The reason this is a good idea is so that everything flows well, and it doesn’t look like you just have a bunch of random names placed around all willy-nilly without any rhyme or reason. My sister recently had her first, a son. When she approached me for a tattoo of his name we had this discussion, and, since she is planning to have more, we opted to tattoo a mama bear on her for now, and eventually, we will tattoo baby bears for each child around it. All at the same time, so they match, and work together to form one fluent piece of art.
These are just a few ideas to get your wheels turning, one thing to remember with these types of name tattoos is that the most important thing to have in them is LOVE.
And finally, the last common reason to get a name tattoo.
- The Memorial Tattoo
Another wonderful reason to get a name piece. The only bit of advice I can give you with these is, make sure that whatever you do, this tattoo celebrates the life of that person that is no longer with us. The ancient Egyptians believed that if your name survived in the world after you had moved on from this life, that you became immortal. Make it a statement, not only about them but about your love for them. If they were not a religious person, stay away from religious imagery, and instead, opt for something that represents them. These tattoos in a way are more personal than most. There is really no wrong answer with these, as long as you are making the tattoo about them, and their time on this earth, and nothing else.
That is about all the advice I can give you regarding name tattoos. These types of tattoos, more so than any other, are a very personal thing. Make sure you give it all the thought and consideration that you need to in order to come up with the perfect design for you no matter what you choose to do. Above all, keep in mind that it is YOUR body and that makes this, and any tattoo YOUR decision and yours alone. Don’t feel like you have to listen to me or anyone else when it comes to this. The only person you should be pleasing is yourself. I hope you found my information and ideas helpful and inspiring, and that what you have just read has given you the tools you need to pick the perfect tattoo for you. If you need some tips on selecting a shop or artist, you can read all about that HERE.
Thanks for reading!