Quotations about Tattoos

The world is divided into two kinds of people:  those who have tattoos, and those who are afraid of people with tattoos.  ~Author Unknown

The tattoo attracts and also repels precisely because it is different.  ~Margo DeMello, Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community, 2000

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

For westerners, the tattoo has always been a metaphor of difference.  ~Margo DeMello, Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community, 2000

There is no "underground" community, no dark den of drunken sailors initiating themselves into manhood via cheap, ill-conceived exercises in bodily perforation; it's just a group of people who delight in using their bodies as billboards. ~Joanne McCubrey, "Walking Art: Tattoos," Mountain Democrat Weekend magazine, 9 February 1990

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

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, it stretches into a condor.  ~Billy Elmer

You may lose your most valuable property through misfortune in various ways.  You may lose your house, your wife and other treasures.  But of your moko, you cannot be deprived except by death.  It will be your ornament and companion until your last day.  ~Netana Whakaari of Waimana

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.  ~Richard Jeni

For someone who likes tattoos, the most precious thing is bare skin.  ~Cher

Ink to paper is thoughtful
Ink to flesh, hard-core.
If Shakespeare were a tattooist
We'd appreciate body art more.
~Terri Guillemets

A man without tattoos is invisible to the Gods.  ~Iban Proverb, as quoted on vanishingtattoo.com

Good tattoos aren't cheap and cheap tattoos aren't good.  ~Author Unknown

You think it, I ink it.  ~Saying of tattooists

Tattoo.  What a loaded word it is, rife with associations to goons, goofs, bikers, tribal warriors, carnival artists, drunken sailors and floozies. ~Jon Anderson, "Epidermal Dalis," Chicago Tribune, 6 October 1994

Inking without a plan gives Booth freedom to explore the desires of those seated in his chair, he says, to feed off their energy, allowing his clients' demons to help guide the needle.  ~Joshua Lipton, about tattoo artist Paul Booth, "Bad Skin," Rolling Stone, 28 March 2002

[P]rimitive tribes were certainly convinced that the spirit, having escaped from the body at death, retained a replica of its earthly tenement.  They therefore used tattoo marks as a means of identification in the next world and a passport to future happiness.  ~Ronald Scutt

Beauty is skin deep.  A tattoo goes all the way to the bone.  ~Vince Hemingson

Beauty is skin deep, unless you have really bad tattoos.  ~Jacob Calle

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

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

Tattoo the pristine flesh
What is permanent anyway?
This ink only lasts 'til the grave,
Skin and ideas decompose
That which we did compose.
~Corri Alius

The first purpose of clothes... was not warmth or decency, but ornament.... Among wild people, we find tattooing and painting even prior to clothes.  The first spiritual want of a barbarous man is decoration; as indeed we still see among the barbarous classes in civilized countries.  ~Thomas Carlyle

And this tattooing had been the work of a departed prophet and seer of his island, who, by those hieroglyphic marks, had written out on his body a complete theory of the heavens and the earth, and a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth; so that Queequeg in his own proper person was a riddle to unfold; a wondrous work in one volume; but whose mysteries not even himself could read, though his own live heart beat against them; and these mysteries were therefore destined in the end to moulder away with the living parchment whereon they were inscribed, and so be unsolved to the last.  ~Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

I want to get a tattoo of myself on my entire body, only two inches taller.  ~Steven Wright

We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast Table, 1872

A quote is just a tattoo on the tongue.  ~William F. DeVault

Think before you ink!  ~Author Unknown

Your necklace may break, the fau tree may burst, but my tattooing is indestructible.  It is an everlasting gem that you will take into your grave.  ~Verse from a traditional tattoo artist's song, as quoted on pbs.org, "Skin Stories: The Art and Culture of Polynesian Tattoo," 2003

Best believe that needle hurt you
Best to see these true colors
Than follow one of your false virtues
A little secret to make you think:
Why is the crazy stuff we never say, poetry in ink?
~Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen, Wolfgang Van Halen, "Tattoo"

The perfect tattoo... the one I believe we are all struggling toward... is the one that turned the jackass into a zebra.  ~Cliff Raven

My body is a journal in a way.  It's like what sailors used to do, where every tattoo meant something, a specific time in your life when you make a mark on yourself, whether you do it yourself with a knife or with a professional tattoo artist.  ~Johnny Depp

The universality of tattooing is a curious subject for speculation.  ~James Cook, 1779

Not one great country can be named, from the polar regions in the north to New Zealand in the south, in which the aborigines do not tattoo themselves.  ~Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

When the designs are chosen with care, tattoos have a power and magic all their own.  They decorate the body but they also enhance the soul.  ~Michelle Delio

And what is it, thought I, after all!  It's only his outside; a man can be honest in any sort of skin.  ~Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Quirky is sexy, like scars or chipped teeth.  I also like tattoos - they're rebellious.  ~Jennifer Aniston

Louie brought his new girlfriend over, and the nicest thing I can say about her is all her tattoos are spelled correctly.  ~Robert Harling, Steel Magnolias

[A] genuine tattoo.... tells a story.  I like stories and tattoos, no matter how well done, and if they don't tell a story that involves you emotionally, then they're just there for decoration, then they're not a valid tattoo.  There has to be some emotional appeal or they're not, to my way of thinking, a real tattoo.  It tells people what you are and what you believe in, so there's no mistakes.  ~Leo, tattooist, 1993, quoted in Margo DeMello, Bodies of Inscription, 2000
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