for tattooed people, and those who want to be

Fine line tattoo portraits


While I’m not a regular watcher of “LA Ink,” I do tune it in from time to time, and I watched “Miami Ink” while Kat Von D was working there.

Kat does excellent fine-line portrait work.   I must admit that up till the time I saw what she could do, I was definitely not a fan of tattoo portraits.   Maybe because I’d never seen a really good one.   It always seemed that the pictures might have looked good when drawn on paper, but when translated to skin they were distotred and amateur-artist-looking.   I couldn’t understand why someone would want to honor someone else by putting a mediocre junior-high-art-class-looking drawing on their skin.

Transferring a drawing on flat paper to the curved surface of someone’s body requires a certain amount of adjustment and talent.   And of course a tattoo needle is nowhere near as forgiving as a pencil, and you can’t just go back and erase your mistakes.   But does that account for all the sappy-looking tattoo portrait art out there?   I saw some fairly mediocre portraits turn up on “Miami Ink” and the recipients always said they were pleased, but was that just for the TV cameras?   Who knows?

I’ve even seen portraits of “Jesus” (the standardized Western portrait of a man who certainly wasn’t the blonde-haired, handsome dude used to represent him) that look bad enough that they could be taken for mockery, not faith.

The Total Tattoo Book includes a photo of a man’s back completely covered by a portrait of Charles Lindbergh, which left me wondering why someone would pay good money for something like that.   Of course, my opinion of LIndbergh and his politics might color my opinion a bit.   🙂

What do you think about tattoo portraits?   Do you have one?   Whom does it honor, and who did the work?

Creative Commons License photo credit: R.O.K.E.N

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Author: infmom

I got my first tattoo when I was 46. I hope the people who read this blog don't have to wait that long. I love talking about body art.


  1. I won’t get a portrait simply because it might turn out like crap, and I don’t want the face of someone I love presenting to the world as crap.

    I prefer the idea of getting something that symbolizing the person you want to remember…I have a sketch of something I want to get in memory of my father in law; the world might not know what it means, but I will…

    • I think that’s an excellent idea. My daughter memorialized her great-grandmother by getting a red-tailed hawk (Great-Gran’s totem animal) incorporated into her arm band. It’s a beautiful and meaningful design.

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