ink from paper to flesh

As an artist and librarian, I’m fascinated by tattoo culture. As a librarian and bibliophile, I am curious to see how books have transformed lives. To ink a quote or illustration on your flesh is true passion. It means the act of reading was not this is a great story but I am not the person I was before. Is this possible? To be permanently altered by language – enough to permanently alter your appearance?

Obviously yes. There are blogs dedicated to literary tattoos, the best being Contrariwise and The Word Made Flesh (which also has, appropriately, a book). On these sites people post images of their tattoos, the full quote and book title. Contrariwise even links to the book in Amazon.

Often in these posts, tattooed people will tell us why it’s so important to be marked by words. There are basic testaments such as someone “really connected with this book” or took “great inspiration” from it. But we also hear from Bethany, a single mom who finds companionship in To Kill a Mockingbird. Another girl with an abusive mother turned to Harry Potter; “I needed an escape,” she writes.

Librarians, writers, and teachers – if you need to remind yourself (or prove to others) the importance of what you do, just find someone whose shoulder reads So it goes… or is carrying a mockingjay on their arm and ask why.

Here are a few of my favorites:

The Little Prince, one of my favorite stories too!


Fahrenheit 451


The Scarlet Letter


Penguin Publishers must be proud 


Rime of Ancient Mariner (I am so jealous of this one!)
Rime of the Ancient Mariner (I am so jealous of this one!)


Because I love The Little Prince, here’s one more


Next up: famous (and not so) artwork as tattoos!