Considering the number of large, text-heavy tattoos popping up online in recent years, it was only a matter of time before someone sat down to write about them.

And that person–thankfully–wasn’t me. I came across a post on the Seppuku Tattoo blog, The Laws of Lettering for Tattoos, which began simply enough:

We often turn down requests for massive amounts of type & I wanted to spell out our very concrete reason as to why that is. This isn’t to discourage anyone from getting tattooed, but rather to look at the broad picture & to help make better tattoo choices. I realize it’s a current fad to get scads of text, we see it all the time. And it drives us crazy.

Here’s the CliffsNotes version of the points used to support their reasoning:

  • Text tattoos destroy the art of typography
  • Text tattoos fight anatomy
  • Text tattoos fight good tattooing
  • Text tattoos eat up a lot of skin
  • Text tattoos cockblock other tattoos
  • “There’s no gallery openings for fonts”
  • Art is subjective–text is not
  • No one wants to have to read you
  • You might have failed English (or other national language)

Clearly the author put a lot of thought into this post – there’s a lot of quotes I considered re-posting here, but for maximum effect might I suggest you read the full post yourself.

Personally, I’m not big on the “one size fits all” mindset for anything; but text tattoos are tricky. While I can think of a handful of attractive large-scale text tattoos right off the bat, I’d say closer to 80% of the heavy text tattoos I’ve seen could be summed up by Seppuku’s last line:

She could have been the Birth of Venus, now’s she a Chinese take out menu. *sigh*

So, what’s your take?

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