Literary Tattoos

My first tattoo was done by the talented Andy Johnson at Long Street Collective in Columbus. I chose a typewriter to reflect my wannabe-writer ambitions. It is also an homage to Hunter S. Thompson, who, despite his drug induced semi-mysogynist ramblings, holds a special place in my heart. I also put a bird on it. Because that is what you do (as is my understanding of birds.)


My friends keep mistaking it for Edgar Allen Poe’s Raven. I don’t mind the literary interpretations, but it is actually a crow. Because I like crows. Because they’re smart. Because remember The Crow? It has nothing to do with my tattoo, but still. Do I need a deep, meaningful reason? I’m quite pleased with it and itching for more. In the mean time I’ve been researching a lot of literary inspired tattoos. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Edgar Allen Poe/The Raven
See, this is the way to do Poe. Thematic sleeves, angsty goth-look.

tat1(photo credit: tumblr)

2. The Phantom Tollbooth/The Terrible Trivium
One of my all time favorite children’s books. So whimsical. Like a modern Alice. Last year I was able to attend a panel at The New Yorker Festival featuring Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer and it was pure magic.

tat3  (photo credit tattoo lit)

3. The Bell Jar/Salvador Dali
I love when two unrelated ideas are so seamlessly blended together. This tattoo pairs an original sketch by Dali with Sylvia Plath’s words.

tat5(photo credit sylvia plath ink)

4. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
These stories terrified me when I was a kid. Seriously, you don’t understand how long The Green Ribbon haunted me (I still find the ascot a suspicious fashion accessory.) Even scarier were Stephen Gammel’s nightmarish illustrations. This tattoo features one of the more tame drawings (how exactly was this for children???)

t4(photo credit almost nerdy)

5. Harry Potter
Yeah, they’re about as common as Vonnegut’s “So It Goes” line. Yeah, everybody gets the same ones (“Mischief Managed,” “Always,” “All was well.”) This one uses two of the most common, but the design is pretty original. Also, Harry Potter guys. Harry Potter. You can’t possibly hate.


6. Alice in Wonderland/Rocking Horsefly
I like this tattoo because it features a rarely used illustration from the original Alice book. Another overused tattoo subject (with good reason) so it’s nice to think outside the box a little.

tat9 (photo credit tattoo lit)

7. The Sandman
I have yet to read this graphic novel, but I really like the idea of using comic book panels in a tattoo. I sought out the quote in question and it looks more like an interpretation of it than a recreation of the drawings on the page. Still dig the comic book feel, though.

t1 (photo credit deviant art)

8. Don Quixote/Picasso
Picasso’s sketch is the singular most iconic image of Don Quixote there is. This is a nice homage if you like both the book and the artist.

t2 (photo credit tattoo lit)

9. Albert Camus/The Stranger
I read The Stranger in college and it always stuck with me. This poetic line (here in the original French) is perhaps the most well known.

t3 (photo credit pinterest)

“In the midst of winter, I found there was,
within me, an invincible summer.”

Rebecca Ritchey

Your resident book eater.

    1. Thank you! I love that one too. I would much rather get a tattoo in the author’s original language (though I would triple check with a native speaker to make sure it’s right. Bablelfish won’t cut it.)