Eternal Statement

A distinct individual expression in a tattoo may not be in a picture format.  Some would choose a typographic or lettering tattoo.  This type of tattoo is not just about letters, numbers, punctuation or character; it can create something that makes social or political statement on an issue you have a strong opinion on.

The book by Ina Saltz, author of Body Type: Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh, certainly reflecting what typographic tattoo is all about.  It presented a fascinating and unusual new book of photographs that will appeal to typophiles everywhere.  The book also focuses more on the meanings, rather than the fonts.

Saltz is a designer, art director, and an associate professor of electronic design and multimedia at the City College of New York.  She is also obsessed with the world of ‘typographic’ tattoos, the result of a serendipitous bus ride and a man with the word ‘happy’ tattooed on his arm.  What made that tattoo stand out to Saltz was the fact that it used an ‘appropriately kerned’ version of Helvetica.  She took a photo of that tattoo, and discovered that there was a whole class of tattoos that were created with typography in mind.

It is not just a photo book, although the photos are the main attraction.  Saltz includes many of the stories – some sad, some uplifting – attached to the creation of many of the tattoos, and she sheds light on different categories of presentation, as well as unique and rare typefaces.  We found this book, and I immediately love it, in Kinokuniya Suria KLCC last year.  It is truly an inspiring one, no matter how many times I have looked at it.  View some of the photographs from the book at


Another amazing reference is the famous ambigram done by John Langdon (  Ambigram is word(s) which can be read from two different vantage points.  It can have the same reading, for example from his famous Earth, Air, Fire, Water or Angels & Demons; and many many more creations.

As I mentioned in my earlier entry, I can’t get enough of Ampersand.  Check out a collection of ampersand format in

I also found that a NZ tattoo studio called Otautahi Tattoo at the centre of Christchurch presented their neat works, especially on lettering tattoos. Check out their website on

Lastly some tips in selecting lettering tattoo:

  • The word/sentence/paragraph chosen is key
  • How they are visually presented
  • Location on the body in relation to the message.

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