Literary Tattoos

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use | Yves Peters | January 29, 2010

We’ve briefly covered typographic tattoos before on The FontFeed, and mentioned Ina Saltz’ Body Type: Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh, an entire book devoted to this phenomenon. I recently was made aware of a website that combines the two. Contrariwise is a website about literary tattoos – tattoos based on books, poems, lyrics, and many other literary sources. The main focus of the entries is the literary source and the background of the text fragments that people commit to their skin, and some of the stories behind the texts are fascinating reads. Although many of those tattoos are designed with scripts and lettering, some are also typographic. Here’s a selection from the last half year or so.


Suppose we have only dreamed, | From The Silver Chair (1953) by C.S. Lewis. Set in Footlight.


Going from – – Toward : | Henry David Thoreau, first published in The Journal of Henry D. Thoreau (1906). Set in Courier.


Until I Find You – Clair de Lune | Until I Find You (2005) by John Irving, and Clair de Lune (1890) by Claude Debussy. Very similar to ITC Edwardian Script.


So it goes | The phrase “so it goes” appears 116 times in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). Set in Bookman (the original, not the ITC version).


Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it … | Quote by Confucius (551 – 479 B.C.). Set in Amazone.


You’ll end up looking at the sky | From Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) by Truman Capote. Set in Zapfino.
Header image: It’s history. It’s poetry. | From Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J. D. Salinger. Set in Courier.

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6 Comments:

  1. Hmm, Yves. Seems funny to use the phrase “Set in ———” for these displays, doesn’t it.

    Posted by Kent Lew on Jan. 31, 2010
  2. Oh my, the header image is gorgeous.

    Posted by Thomas on Jan. 31, 2010
  3. Hmm, Yves. Seems funny to use the phrase “Set in ———” for these displays, doesn’t it.

    Hah, finally somebody notices it! :) I was waiting for somebody to pick up on that. It doesn’t seem funny; it’s plain ridiculous, but I thought: “What the heck, let’s see if anybody notices.”

    Posted by Yves Peters on Feb. 1, 2010
  4. Well, I was trying to be diplomatic by using the word “funny.” ;-) How long had you been waiting? Sorry, I don’t usually track tattoo threads. It was the literary angle that got me.

    But you did get me reflecting on how permeable the division between type and lettering is these days: type imitating lettering; lettering imitating type.

    Posted by Kent Lew on Feb. 1, 2010
  5. But you did get me reflecting on how permeable the division between type and lettering is these days: type imitating lettering; lettering imitating type.

    That is a reflection worthy of a post of its own.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Feb. 1, 2010
  6. Of course one of the prerequisites of a good literary tattoo is that the tattoo artist knows how to spell (and/or the client is any good at proofreading). Check this funny collection of mistakes for life.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Feb. 2, 2010

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