The Coolest Literary Tattoos on the Internet

We asked our readers to send us their book inspired tattoos and they delivered

Claire Roehl's Tattoo of The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
Claire Roehl’s Tattoo of The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
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Books and tattoos have one major thing in common: ink. Maybe that’s why book-lovers like getting literary tattoos so much. A few weeks ago, I asked our social media followers to send us their literary tattoos. I expected ten, maybe twenty responses. Instead, we got over 250. 250! Our feed was all skin and ink for days. There were so many great tattoos that it was hard to narrow it down for this piece, but ultimately these tattoos stood out in particular against a sea of (over 250) other pieces.

Below, you’ll find some of our favorite pieces, along with the artist’s information and further information about the tattoos from contributors. If you want to take a look at all of the other amazing tattoos (there are so many), check out the original thread here.

Langston Hughes

“My son is named Langston, after the poet. So, I got a tattoo with ‘Dreams’ by Langston Hughes. I’m all about making sure whatever his dreams are come true. (He’s 3 so we aren’t quite sure what those dreams are yet, but I’m sure one day he’ll tell us).” —@ericsmithrocks

Artist: Nick the Tailor at Crown and Feather Tattoo Philadelphia, PA

Avid Reader Press

“I always wanted a book tattoo but never wanted to commit to one book—I love ‘em all! This design was off of a tote bag I received from Avid Reader Press when they first opened their imprint. I thought it would look dope as a set.” —@BiblioReckah

Artist: Devin Volpe at Human Condition Arts and Tattoo in Pembroke, NH

Phillis Wheatley

“This beautiful stick-and-poke is an interpretation of Phillis Wheatley‘s iconic lithograph. She was a true genius in every sense of the word, as well the first Black poet to be published in North America. This tattoo reminds me that I am possible because of her keen mind and enduring heart.” —@NatashaOladokun

Artist: Becs Iturralde (they/them) at My Place Tattoo, Chicago IL

Wayside School written by Louis Sachar and illustrated by Adam McCauley

“My brothers and I all read the Wayside School series in the fourth grade, and I’ve been telling them for decades that I was going to get a potato tattoo on my ankle like Calvin does in one of the books. It’s a little more elaborate than Calvin’s, but my potato plant has three potatoes, one for each of us siblings.” —@JanineZeeCheng

Artist: Nevada Buckley at Firefly Tattoo Collective in Noblesville, IN

“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allen Poe, illustrated by W. Heath Robinson

“The artwork is from a collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s poetry illustrated by W. Heath Robinson. This piece was created for ‘Annabel Lee’, which was one of my favourite poems to read when I was younger.” —@savetheblooms

Artist: Kloey Miller at The Edge Tattoo Studio in Solana Beach, CA

Angels in America by Tony Kushner & Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Angels in America tattoo: 

“My heart stopped when I was 20, leaving me dead for six minutes. The appearance of the angel to Prior Walter in Angels In America has always resonated to me as someone who should have died but didn’t, and my subsequent struggle to find meaning in that.”

Artist: Benjamin Clarke at Mischief Tattoo in NYC. 

Wolf Hall tattoo: 

“It’s the first line from Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy (hence the Tudor emblem). I began the series at the start of the pandemic, and sinking into a character’s mind so fully, so vividly, kept me from coming to pieces during the nightmare of 2020. It was an achingly human thing to lose myself in a time so distant but so like our own, with its plagues, tragedies, loves, rivalries and resonant, tenacious hearts.”

Artist: Nini at Fleur Noire Tattoo in Brooklyn, NY 

@memilies

Love and Rockets by Jaime Hernandez

“I started reading Love and Rockets in the ’90s—it’s one of the few series where the characters actually age in real time and I always related to Maggie, especially to her insecurities (not to mention that I think she was the first bisexual character I ever saw in fiction!) I liked this panel in particular because it reminded me of Roy Lichtenstein and I felt like it was kind of reclaiming that image for comic books.” —@wordnerdy

Artist: Zeus Ortiz at Dogstar Tattoo Company in Durham, NC

Bread & Jam for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban

“I have the bread and jam from the endpapers of Bread & Jam for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban. My daughter Josie has Frances. Why? Because the book is hilarious, suspenseful, warmhearted, and it contains the greatest lunch in all of children’s literature. When Josie was 16 we saw an exhibit about the Hobans’ work at the Beinecke Rare Book Library and Josie started asking if we could get matching Frances tattoos when she turned 18. I figured she’d stop asking by then. But nope. Josie found the lovely artist, Ocean Gao.” —@MarjorieIngall

Artist: Ocean Gao (they/them) in Brooklyn

Monogram

“It’s a monogram of the letters A-Z and numbers 0-9. Barring some special characters, every book I’ve ever read is in that tattoo and that’s why it means so much to me.” —@ewwwheather

Artist: Scott LaMadline at Love and Hate Tattoo in Phoenix, Arizona (Scott is no longer with that particular tattoo parlor, he now works at Libertalia Tattoo in Grand Rapids, MI).

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is one my favourite books and I’ve always identified with the character of Merricat a bit too much, so it was only fair that I permanently imprint her into my skin to keep with me forever.” —@merricalico

Studio: Tenzin Tattoos

The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

“The tattoo is from the Beatrix Potter book The Tailor of Gloucester. My mom was an artist  who drew the original sketch and the tattoo is meant to honor her and her artwork and my grandmother, who inspired my love of reading.” —@ClaireRoehl

Artist: Danielle Parmelee at Lucid Studio in Chapel Hill, NC

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

“This was my first tattoo; at the time I was very young and felt helpless and hopeless about the rest of my life looming ahead of me. The line of dialogue this comes from is in The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith when Carol says to Therese, “You’re about as weak as this match…But given the right conditions you could burn a house down, couldn’t you?” I got it to remind myself that even if I felt helpless, I wasn’t.” —@ghost_dyke

Artist: Zane at LoveHate Tattoo in Rochester, NY

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

“My tattoo a tribute to The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper. I incorporated the mistletoe and hawthorn that are part of key moments in the books, and used a “flame-colored” dahlia to represent the Sign of Fire from the books, along with the inscription from that sign: Liht Mec Heht Gewyrcan.” —@shadowkatie

Artist: Pony at The Honorable Society in West Hollywood.

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