I was hoping to have a discussion after searching around the forums for a bit.

I don’t mean to be offensive. And I’m not trying to start an argument. In fact I’m not even trying to change opinions, which is often futile anyway. I’m just looking to find perspective on something that I’ve noticed after looking around and asking a few questions.

Why does there seem to be a lot of hate for text tattoos? Especially tattoos that consist of a lot of text?

I’ve read from others that they are boring; but then what constitutes something that isn’t? What is a truly interesting tattoo then? Just about everything has been done to death nowadays. No offense, but surely koi fish and nautical stars are just as boring?

I’ve read that they look like blobs from far away. But don’t sleeves look exactly the same? From a distance, a sleeve most often looks like someone dipped their arm in gray paint. It’s not until you get close that you can see the intricacies of the artwork.

It seems to me, that at the heart of this, is the question of what should a tattoo be; something that looks good, or something that has meaning to you.

So I want to ask, is it more important that a tattoo means something important, or that it’s aesthetically pleasing?

Thank you for any input.


Hello Clark.
There is nothing wrong with text tatoos some people will say it is a waste of canvas that you could have something more artistic?
I think some text tattoos are spot on when executed well. Some people will go to below average artists as they think ah well its only writing but it can go seriously wrong as it is a test of a steady hand.
I would get a text tattoo from shoulder to shoulder across my chest family is forever or something.


From my personal perspective, tattoos are very much all about the artwork. I don’t have any interest in crap tattoos, and little interest in even average tattoos.

That also applies somewhat with respect to subject matter, although I still like looking at a really well executed Koi.

Just plain text isn’t art. It’s prose. It can be creative in it’s own right – but it’s not creative in an artwork/tattoo sense. If text is what somebody is compelled to get tattooed on them, that’s perfectly fine – but I’m just not going to have much interest in it personally.

Some script is entertaining, but usually when it gets interesting it’s also damn hard to read.

Same condition exists for me on tribal. It’s got to be really exceptional for it to be interesting.


What you’re really getting into here is the tricky, subjective subject that scholars and pretentious assholes alike have been arguing about since around the time DaDa came around:

What is art?

Art exists to be awesome. Its purpose is to elicit an emotional response, to make you feel something, wonder, awe, disgust, it doesn’t matter, as long as it shakes you, wakes you up out of the autopilot we run on. Art has to grab you by the balls and say “FEEL SOMETHING DAMMIT!”.

The more explanation a piece requires, the more of a failure it is. Those experimental artists I studied in art school who had to write three hundred page manifestos to explain their work are failures. Once a piece leaves your easel, it’s no longer yours. A person is going to bring his own life, his own experiences to your work, and if you’ve done your work, he’s going to feel something, but you don’t get to control what it is he feels. His life and personality are going to determine that.

Tattoos are the purest form of art for art’s sake.Yes, they have tribal implications, and are almost spiritual in nature. Yes the pain and the not completely socially acceptable nature add a mystic to them that is part of the work. At the base though, there’s no real, tangible reason to get a tattoo. They cost a metric fuckton of money, they can prevent you from getting the job or mate you want, and judging from the people whining on here about the pain, many people find the pain and blood a high bar to cross.

But we do it anyway, and we do it for the art. Even if the person getting the ink can’t articulate it, he’s delighted when he sees a well crafted tattoo appear on his skin, when he gets a good piece of art that moves something in him.

He enjoys is because it’s well-crafted, and well-thought out, and those are the tools an artist uses to elicit a response.

Which means, at the most base level, meaning is moot. If someone looks at your Cock Riding a Skateboard, Smoking a Bong tattoo, they’re not going to see a memorial to your dearly departed friend Dick, who did the best ollies and could hold his smoke. They’re going to see the most ridiculous tattoo of all time, and it’s going to make them laugh their asses off.

Don’t believe me? Check this out. This gentleman claimed that since his tattoo was a memorial to his dead friend, the fact his tattoo was poorly done didn’t matter. It’s a common sentiment, and it never flies. The art, the piece, is what matters, not the meaning.

Which brings us to the text tattoo. There’s no artistry there, very little thought to design. Text tattoos, for the most part, get the purpose of tattoos backward: they put an intangible and ultimately moot deeper meaning ahead of the art. Without the attention to the design or art, the text becomes boring, and fails to elicit the required emotional response.

As to your comment about koi and other imagery being overdone, and that there is nothing original anymore, on that one I’m just going to call bullshit. It was originally said by Jim Jarmusch, and the full quote reads:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

The lack of originality that artists refer to is more about the almost incestuous relationship art has with itself. Artists steal shamelessly from each other, and they always have. Every form of art has its go-to forms, tropes, and ideas, and many of the most innovative works of art you can find are, at their base, reworkings of familiar, overused tropes.

For instance, Japanese inspired pieces are some of the most clechied works in tattooing, especially the damned Chinese Dragon. Yet look at our own Lord Matthew Hull’s back piece and tell me it isn’t a stunning work of art.

Craftsmanship matters. That’s what causes a piece to elicit an emotional response.

Deeper, bullshit meanings doesn’t.

And that’s why text tattoos suck my left nut, and brother, that ain’t the good one.

Love. Peace. Metallica.


normally, i would never be able to read thru a post that long ^

but that was very well put………


I have seen some nice, I suppose artistic script tattoos. But those are usually larger and no more than a couple of words or so. I also think they can be used very well as a compliment to an image and look nice and enhance a piece. The ones I don’t like are when people get a paragraph on them with some sort of life motto and supposed deep meaning. I guess I just don’t get it, is it supposed to help you live a better life because you get some long, drawn out philosophical quote permanently tattooed on you? And usually when you’ve got a bunch of smaller words they can’t be executed as stylistically, can’t be read very well and over time do tend to look more like a blob. I consider the creative art factor as well. Yes, some script tattoos are artistic, but how much creative art is involved when you see a quote somewhere and then copy it onto your body? I would much rather see a representative image with a couple of words (if necessary) rather than just script. But again, for me personally it’s more about someone feeling the importance and need of having a long quote tattoed on them to improve their life. Write it down on paper and carry it with you every day if you really need a reminder. All personal opinions of course.


I agree with a lot of the above posts. Basically in my opinion the whole point of a tattoo is to be visually appealing. I don’t care about your damn story about how you lost your kitten when you were 2, or the death dates of past friends or grandparents. If someone wants to be “inspired” by a life changing event they experienced and have it transformed into a tattoo, there are thousands of different ways they could (and should) go about it.

Someone above hit the nail on the head with the visual appeal of script; some of it can get really interesting but by that time it’s usually not legible. I still do chuckle whenever someone asks if 4 paragraph’s of script will fit around their wrist or somewhere “cute”. A lot of the people i’ve known personally that have script usually get them because they “don’t know what else to get”. And they figure, “hey i’m unoriginal and too lazy to research anything in detail that is going to mark my body forever, so let’s just put something on it that someone has said in the past.”

2 cents.

reefdiver;81061 wrote:
normally, i would never be able to read thru a post that long ^

but that was very well put………

same to me, but all I can say is every tattoo types and designs have their own meanings and they made someone unique from one another. It just need a right person to see it and judge the way they see it. I’m planning to get a name tattoo..

tattoo-center;81097 wrote:
same to me, but all I can say is every tattoo types and designs have their own meanings and they made someone unique from one another. It just need a right person to see it and judge the way they see it. I’m planning to get a name tattoo..

Just please don’t get your own name. I never understood that one.


I get it. With Miami ink and all the spin-offs, and the general trends that’s emerged the last couple of years, people set a higher standard for tattoos. Getting a kanji symbol or a trampstamp isn’t “cool” anymore. People are amazed by what they concive as great art, details, colours, nyances, all that. A text tattoo is… Simple. And it makes people think “I could’ve done that…”, which they don’t when it comes to real hardcore stuff.

I think text tattoos can be really nice. But well.. It’s easy to copy, it’s not very personal (the meaning might be, but people don’t care), and it doesn’t require a great deal of talent to do. Text tattoos are like… The lower class of tattoos 😛
(however, I am getting one myself. So… fuck people)


I’ve read similar posts throughout this forum and others too. Personally I think a tattoo is pleasing to one, and rejected by another (most tattoos are).

Some, such as myself would prefer a tattoo thats personally to them or representative of an important aspect of their life; others prefer a tattoo as simply a piece of body art.

It is each and every one of our choices that determine what we consider a good tattoo, whether it be fonts, symbols, or cultural tattoos, and what we consider is a tattoo that’s NOT for us.


Personally, I like text tattoo if it doesn’t say something really typical or if its personal.

I have a tattoo on my foot that reads ‘look after my heart I’ve left it with you’ and I love it!


^ post up a pic of it please…………..


Its only a fairly heavy thick bold font across my foot in black, ill post a pic when I get home


I tend to get a fair bit of text, either on banners or script in random places.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 76 total)

You must be logged in to create new topics.