Tattoos are almost as old as humanity, and humanity’s feelings about them are diverse. In some cultures such markings indicate the passage from childhood to adulthood, or a deviation from what is considered “normal.” They can indicate belonging or isolation.
They are also amazing storytellers. Tattoos are a public display of a person’s inner feelings, where they’ve been, where they’re going, what they believe about themselves and the world. Tattoos are tributes memories, dreams, or fears. They can be sacred or profane, and mean different things to different people. They are thoughts personified. Tattoos can also indicate an obsession — and no one is more obsessed than bookish people.
When Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor had the idea for The Word Made Flesh in 2009, they had no idea that “literary tattoos” were such a big trend. But they’d been seeing them more and more recently, and not just in their hometown of Brooklyn. Could there be more people out there with permanent tributes to literature on their bodies? They decided to put out a call for submissions of photos of bookish tattoos.
Three months later, they had enough to fill two books; two years later, The Word Made Flesh tumblr is still updated almost daily with new tattoos submitted by bookish people.
A bookworm’s dream
In this slim volume you will find spells from Harry Potter, quotes from Vonnegut, lines from Beckett, Poe’s raven, and tributes to Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, and Alice in Wonderland.
But you’ll also find the stories behind the tattoos, moments of triumph and tragedy. You’ll be tempted to become a member of the “Skin” project, in which author Shelley Jackson is publishing her 1,000 word short story, one word at a time, on 1,000 different people. I guarantee you’ll come up with at least one idea for your own literary tattoo (I know I did).
Each of the people pictured in The Word Made Flesh chose to make a piece of literature, or an author, or a character, a part of their very being. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.
Would you ever get a literary tattoo? Why or why not?
*Just a quick note that I am out of town from 8/14 – 8/20. Posts should be going up automatically, but I’ll be really slow on responding to comments until I get back. Thanks for your patience, and have a great week!*
6 thoughts on “The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide”
I’m always fascinated when I see literary tattoos. I wouldn’t get one myself (did the tattoo thing, regret the tattoo thing!), but I like them. I would think for people dedicated to books enough to get a tattoo that the hardest part would be narrowing down which book to reference. I couldn’t even begin to choose!
The hardest part is definitely narrowing down the options — there are at least a dozen that I can think of that I’d like, and choosing just one is nearly impossible (although I think I’m getting closer). What’s your tattoo of? 😀
I’m with Small Review on this one. Wouldn’t consider getting a tattoo, but I love to see what everyone else has….
I’ve always loved tattoos. I think they can be really beautiful and really powerful, because they’re a form of storytelling. The word made flesh, so to speak. :p I can’t wait to get my own.
Talk about dedication. I’d never really thought about it before, but if I came across the right quote, or image that depicted something about a book I really loved, I would seriously consider getting a literary tattoo. Maybe the cover of my book once it’s published? haha Have a great weekend!
There seems to be a pretty even balance between people who get images, and people who get words tattooed. Most of my ideas are quotes, which is problematic because the quotes I love the most are really long — so they’d take a long time, hurt more, and I’d have to find space for them on me somewhere (I’m pretty thin, so space is limited).
The book cover image is a good idea, but you better hope it’s not a multi-colored, complex design. Costs more and takes longer. : / I’ll probably go with something simple.