It seems like everyone has tattoos nowadays. Their arms are covered. Their backs are covered. Even their fingers and necks are covered. You might not understand the fascination with body art. You might be wondering, “Why do people get tattoos?” Well, there isn’t a single answer. Different people get their tattoos for different reasons. There are hundreds of Sherlock tattoos, Star Wars tattoos, and Yankees tattoos in the world.
If someone is obsessed with a certain television show, actor, book, song, or movie, then they might get a tattoo to commemorate it. It is their way of saying this thing matters to me, this thing made a major difference in my life. Just like when someone steps out of the house wearing a band t-shirt, there is a chance that other people in the fandom will recognize the tattoo and compliment it. It can create conversations between total strangers who have a lot in common.
But that is not the main reason people get fandom tattoos. They get them because they are trying to honor their favorite writers and singers and artists. They are saying thank you in the best way they know-how. You might see strangers with Harry Potter tattoos and think it’s silly for them to be so obsessed with the franchise, but the movie represents something different to them than it does to you. It holds meaning that you might not understand — but that does not make a difference to them. They did not get their tattoo for outside approval. They are the only person who has to like it.
Most tattoos hold heavy meaning. They are not a random design that someone chose to have printed onto them during a drunken night. They are significant. They matter. A lot of people get their tattoos in honor of a family member or close friend that has died. They might get across the person’s name or their date of death written across it. It’s also common to see tattoos of praying hands, angel wings, cancer ribbons, halos, and dog tags. Of course, someone might also get a design of their lost loved ones’ favorite animal, flower, or song lyric. They might choose a design that invokes a memory that reminds them of that person. A memory that represents everything that person meant to them.
Now it is even possible to get a tattoo of an actual signature. The tattoo artist can take a person’s handwriting from a birthday card or sheet of paper and have it transferred onto skin. Even though it is impossible to bring back someone from beyond the grave, getting a tattoo is a way to make you feel like you are still close to that person like they have not traveled too far.
They might not have a specific reason why they chose their design. They might have just chosen something they found pretty. Something that spoke to them, even if they could not pinpoint why. These people choose designs based off of what they think is going to look best against their skin, the same way other people choose their makeup and clothing in the morning. Their tattoo is an accessory. It is a fashion statement. It is a way to express themselves through silence. Tattoos are a way for them to create their own identity, to make themselves look different from the cookie-cutter people surrounding them, to make them feel a little more unique.