Lettering In Tattoos

Blog By M. Mitera

Anything Joe’s?

One of the most complicated (and yet basic) types of tattoo is lettering. It can be extremely difficult to execute correctly and is one of the most sought after styles of tattoo today. Lettering can be used to remember a person, a favorite quote, or a special date. However, getting the right artist to do your lettering tattoo can be difficult. If done improperly, the letters can blend together over time. This can cause the phrase to become jumbled and hard to read. A meaningful tattoo should definitely not deteriorate over time. A touch up or two maybe but as we’ve said before, a tattoo is the only thing in your life that you will pay for and have forever. In order to help you out in your search for the best possible artist, we’ve put together a short list of do’s and do not’s when it comes to lettering tattoos.

I think you forgot something…

DO make sure that the phrase is spelled correctly! Most reputable tattoo artists will verify the spelling before you actually get the tattoo. This is incredibly important (obviously), as you don’t want your new tattoo misspelled. When this does occasionally happen, it can sometimes be fixed with removal procedures. But other times, the tattoo can be ruined, especially for the person wearing it. Double and triple check the spelling of your new tattoo before you get it inked on you!

DON’T make it too small! This is one of the big ones that we see here in the shop. Clients come in and want tiny little lettering and we have to dash their dreams by telling them no. We aren’t going to do a tattoo that we think won’t last… That’s just not fair to you. If you artist suggests making your lettering bigger, listen to them. This will increase the readability and shelf life of the tattoo.

DON’T ask for no outline. Outlines are what holds tattoos together over time. While a larger piece can hold up pretty well with no outline, small text will eventually blur and fade. This will leave your lettering tattoo looking much less awesome than the day that you got it.

DO remember that you want this to be legible and that human skin is not the same as paper. Crazy fonts with flourishes and large letters can become less legible and difficult to decipher. Be sure to check and double check that your font is easy to read!

DO think about your placement. Since the human body isn’t flat, you should plan your tattoo accordingly. It’s also important to note “high traffic areas”, such as the sides of the foot, in between the fingers, or the sides of the hands. These parts of the body get bumped and scratched a great deal, which means that your tattoo probably won’t hold up very well if you put it in these places. Add to that the fact that lettering has a tough time holding up and you’ve got a recipe for a sad looking tattoo.

DON’T get a tattoo in a foreign language without triple checking the meaning behind it. The last thing you want is your Chinese character tattoo to read “cheeseburger” when you meant it to say “hope”. And when it comes to lettering tattoos that use other languages, be sure to note any changes your chosen artist makes to the tattoo before you put it on you. Some languages have characters that change meaning with the slightest turn of a line.

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