Typographic Tattoos??

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Kyle Hildebrant's picture
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Typographic Tattoos??
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So how about it? A subject that I find myself currently debating. That is the fact that I am designing a tattoo (for myself), and trying to decide what face I want to use. So far mantinia is winning. I am having some latin text tattooed across both of my forearms.

Anyone have typographic tattoos? or Photos?

hildebrant.

David Earls's picture
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I was looking through a book in Foyles earlier this week on Helvetica, and noticed that someone had had the name tattooed along their forearms in the typeface. I remember thinking it looked “ok” but not much better.

Problem is that it is fairly unlikely that a tattooist will appreciate some of the subtly in your chosen typeface, and may have difficulty replicating its dimensions and spacing in ink under your skin.

Also bear in mind that the skin on your arm moves and distorts quite dramatically. I have a geometric design that runs from shoulder to wrist, and a twist of my wrist distorts the design greatly from wrist to elbow. I knew this would happen and designed it in such a way, with the help of my artist, to make it part OF the design itself. I think that typographic tattoo are inherently going to risk looking wrong due to distortion for large periods of time. That is not even taking into consideration how your body will age with time. Take this into account, and try transferring a design to your arm to see what happens in normal movement.

Another thing to take into consideration is trapping. Ink can spread slightly under your skin over time, and different parts of your arm may be liable to spread at different rates (this is especially true if you are going to have a multiple sitting with your artist — their mood and therefore the execution of their craft will vary between sittings). Be careful therefore when choosing serifed typeface with fine detailing, and bear this in mind when deciding how large your tattoo will be overall.

Remember to take into account how your tattoo will fade too, especially if you are having shading or colour work.

Check out this site — you will find loads of stories and photos, and I believe there galleries have a specific section on typographic tattoos. Those here of a nervous disposition may not want to follow the link, by the way.

http://www.bmezine.com/

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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> trapping

That’s just too funny. Skin trapping. Sounds like something a cannibal type designer would do.

BTW, Tony di Pietro also has a type tatoo he’s really proud of.

hhp

David Earls's picture
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Is this the one? Originally at the ATypI site, but now only on the way back machine…

http://web.archive.org/web/20020622041442/http://www.atypi.org/tparty/news/stories/PIC00019.JPG

Simon Daniels's picture
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yes

Rodolfo Capeto's picture
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Documentation of a tattoo designed by type designer
Joachim Müller-Lanc

Chris's picture
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“Documentation of a tattoo designed by type designer
Joachim Müller-Lanc

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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I’d go with Hangul instead, for the sake of celebrating writing system excellence.

hhp

Chris's picture
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I’ve always thought Hangul was ugly.

Nathan Matteson's picture
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Well, here’s my first and only. They do wander and stretch quite a bit — kinda nice since it’s everything I tell my students *not* to do ;-) Sorry for the Helvetica, hhp.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Didn’t that wrist part hurt?! Ouch.
Or maybe Helvetica served as anesthesia…  ;-)

hhp

Nathan Matteson's picture
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>Helvetica served as anesthesia

LOL. The worst thing about the wrist is that the tendons wreak holy hell on the letters.

Chris's picture
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What does it say?

Kyle Hildebrant's picture
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Back to what I was considering getting.

http://www.kylehildebrant.com/downloads/tattoo_idea.pdf

This would be quite large, Im considering about 8” in length.

What do you guys think?

hildebrant.

Jacques Le Bailly's picture
Joined: 21 Dec 2001 - 2:09pm
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On what body part do you want to have it?

—Jacques

David Earls's picture
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Yves asked me to post a photo of my arm. Here it is.

arm

Kyle Hildebrant's picture
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Jacques: Considering the outward part of my forearm.

hildebrant.

Chris's picture
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:bites tongue on bad joke about 8 inch tattoos and the body parts they should go on:

Graham Hicks's picture
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Was that tattoo in the Helvetica book a real tattoo or just pen? Maybe I just thought it was pen because the wearer was inking in a giant version of the word “Helvetica.”

I know someone with an interrobang tattoo.

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One of the guys who works at the best café in Vancouver, possibly the world, had MORRISSEY tatoo’d up his forearm in approx. 140pt Copperplate Gothic. Earlier this year he got bored with the typeface and had the design gone over, and longer wedge serifs and some careful decorative elements added. I was quite impressed by how thoughtfully it was done, even if having the name of a pop singer on your arm is more than a bit stupid.

The best tatoo I’ve ever seen was on a friend’s back: German late mediaeval woodcuts of the seven deadly sins.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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> possibly the world

Easy, easy.

hhp

Karen Huang's picture
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•••• David, is that real? Or some nifty marker work? What happens if you gain a lot of weight? Do they become just plain parallel lines?

David Earls's picture
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Karen, it took about 25 hours at the tattoo studio, it was all done, amazingly, freehand, and yes, its very real. People ask me what I will do if, aged 65, I regret it. I ask them what if I look back aged 65 and regret never having done it?

Karen Huang's picture
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25 hours! How many tattooists worked shifts? :-) It is amazingly straight for something done freehand.
People often forget that regret works both ways.

Jean F Porchez's picture
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David,
you know that I liked your arm tatoo, but I just wonder, looking again to the image, where this one finish? Just before to appear to the other arm Tshirt, so it was all over your body or what? ;)

I will understood if you can’t answer!

John wrote:
“having the name of a pop singer on your arm is more than a bit stupid.”
My first tatoo is a Vespa with a name of my current scooter club on my right arm done in London, at just 18. So, yes, sometimes, when I think about it, I can feel stupid but, after 20 years to live with it, at 99,9% I think it is part of my body and life, and I can’t regret to have done it. The only actual regret I have is the type forms for the tatooed words are not well designed ;)

David Earls's picture
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Karen, it wasn’t one sitting, I’d have passed out! The longest I sat for was 8 hours, but it was done in 3-4 hour segments over a period of a few months.

JFP, it is capped at the top of my shoulder so its the entire arm, minus the hand. There is one on my leg too ( http://www.typographer.com/brighton.jpg ) and on my ear but I think perhaps you saw both those last year at St Martins?

You mentioned the vespa was your first tattoo… does that mean there are more, JFP?

Nathan Matteson's picture
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Chris said:

>What does it say?

If that was directed to me, then it says “What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence.” Or, alternately, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent.”

Jean F Porchez's picture
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To Yves and only to him*: Come to Vancouver conference and I will show you! ;-)

*I’m pretty sure that you will not came, hehe. ;-)

David Earls's picture
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JFP is being very coy about this. Very coy :-)

David Earls's picture
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Those definitions dont work for me. I prefer this one, from dict.org:

* showing marked and often playful or irritating evasiveness or reluctance to make a definite or committing statement; “a politician coy about his intentions”

:P

Nathan Matteson's picture
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>thine English is very sophisticated.

Yeah, those are pretty bookish translations. Essentially, it’s my daily reminder to “shut the •••• up.”

David Earls's picture
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Perhaps I should have deleted the “irritating” portion of the definition for the sake of illustrating my intentions rather than maintaining dictionary accuracy.

Just to be clear here, I meant coy as in playful avoidance, nothing else!

David Earls's picture
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Perhaps I should have deleted the “irritating” portion of the definition for the sake of illustrating my intentions rather than maintaining dictionary accuracy.

Just to be clear here, I meant coy as in playful avoidance, nothing else!

Tanya Sprowl's picture
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I have one. a modified version of Demuth

Rob Irrgang's picture
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I have a Helvetica Neue trademark symbol on my right shoulder. No pictures available right now.

At the time I figured it symbolized control of my own life pretty well… (“I own myself”). Which is why I got it. It beats cliched kanjii tattoos about self-power and self-worth and what not.

Jean F Porchez's picture
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Hum, well… which version of the Neue, Adobe or Linotype?

Rob Irrgang's picture
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Adobe’s.

Dav (formlos)'s picture
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So, if cou could / should choose a Typeface / Font to get a tattoo set in, what would it be, then.?
( Beside ‘Sailor Jerry’, by Cubanica.. )

What do you think of ‘Dalliance’, as a choice for ‘Tattoo Type’.?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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That seems like a great choice indeed!
Even Tiffany might change her mind.  ;-)

hhp

Jared Benson's picture
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I think the standard answer to this one is “Brian Bonislawsky, Astigmatic One Eye”

So what’s it going to say? Lorem Ipsum? Quo usque tandem abutere?

Joe Pemberton's picture
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This thread is worth digging up.

Sailor Jerry: http://www.typophile.com/forums/messages/29/1301.html

Yves Peters's picture
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Wasn’t there another one too, Joseph?

P.S. David, do you mind posting your Typophile T pic
you had on your site a while ago? Your tattoo is truly
wikkid. Not mine, it’s the girlie kind. My wife likes
it (it was a birthday present of hers), but my six-
year-old daughter wishes I had chosen the colourful
huge tiger…

Tamye Riggs's picture
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More discussion in this thread, including links to photos of some of Brian B’s ink:

Unusual typographic tattoos

Jared Benson's picture
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My best true typographic tat story is an acquaintance of mine who tried to toughen up his image by getting his last name across his shoulders in “Olde English” — “Thompson” —  Once it was done he looked at it in the mirror and the gangster tattooist had done “Thopson”

So he had it tattooed over with a low-rider.

Yves Peters's picture
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David, I really like the way you think. I’ll see
what I can do about that crate of Dentergems.
And try to explain to my wife afterwards.

Anonymous's picture
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»Once it was done he looked at it in the mirror and the gangster tattooist had done “Thopson”

Don’t know if its true or not, but I heard about a skinhead who tried to enhance his hardman image by tattooing ‘skins’ on his forehead.
Unfortunately, he did it himself, in the mirror, and to everyone else it said ‘sniks’

Yves Peters's picture
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I had trouble with your link, but I found the image here.
Don’t forget your domain name changed to .org.

Alwaysknowsbetterman

Yves Peters's picture
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Tell us, Jean Fran

Yves Peters's picture
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JF, t’es un marrant, toi! I need a wealthier employer…

Nathan, thine English is very sophisticated. I’d translate
that as:
“Shut up if you don’t know what you’re talking about”.

Yves Peters's picture
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coy adj. coy

Yves Peters's picture
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Go blame the Americans for not knowing proper English…
I’d pass on the “irritating” bit when we’re talking about
JFP though, that’s totally not him.