Oct 25, 2010


I have a new release out in the UK next week—The Soldiers Untamed Heart—and it features a single-mother-of-one heroine with a Wedge-tailed Eagle tattooed across her lower back. I had a great time wading through tattoo websites and magazines looking for the right artwork, I never found it but those searches sure showed me what I do and don’t like in a tattoo.

I know I really like tribal and celtic art—the more unique the better. Cultural symbols, animal motifs, plants, mythic.


I know I really like the roman numeral tattoos that some men wear down the inside of their arms even though I haven’t got a clue what they mean. I definitely like the tattoos that symbolize something special for the wearer rather than just being spectacular. I know I don’t like the heavily coloured art or the dense, grouped tattoos. And I really don’t like skulls and bulging eyed monsters and swastikas and things that are nasty. I figure it must do something to your head to wear a symbol of hate on the outside of your body for life.

In 2004 US author Shelley Jackson wrote her short-story ‘Skin’ entirely on the bodies of volulnteers from around the world—word by word. She found 2095 people willing to be walking fragment of literature have a word tattooed on their body…chests, foot souls, finger webbing, under their watch… Talk about suffering for art! You’d want a word of significance wouldn’t you for all that trouble… not just a ‘the’ or an ‘a’. (Tho I am suddenly reminded of the old joke ‘Welcome to Jamaica-Have a nice day’).

C_Elloras Cave

C_West Australian

Angelina Jolie

Some of the world’s most famous ink….

Sometimes it is possible to upstage an enormous ugly tattoo…. Aussie footballer, Ben Cousins...

This is one of my favourite literature tattoos – the cover of Denise Rossetti’s Gift of the Goddess. It breaks pretty much all my newly discovered tattoo-rules but…hey, a girl can change her mind, right?

Do you have a tattoo (or more than one)? Why did you get it? Do you consider it art, adornment, acknowledgement, or literature? Or are you thinking about one? I'd love to share it vicariously...


  1. I don't have a tattoo - yet, but I'd love to get one of an Anne McCaffrey-like dragon, perhaps somewhere on my arm/forearm, coloured and as much detail as possible.

    Why? I love dragons (also suits my genre) and I've always thought I'd like to celebrate in some special way once I reach that milestone of publication.

    Until then, all I have to find is a good tattoo artist and the courage to get myself through the process! LOL

  2. Hi Nikki --
    I've featured some heroes with tattoos (in the paranormal realm, they're a staple). I love the images you've included above.

    I don't want a tattoo myself...I keep imagining what it would like when I'm a 75 year old grandmother! (-:

  3. Nikki, you have an interesting array of tattoos here, and your research sounds like fun. In my August release last year my heroine was a tattoo artist... but I wouldn't have the nerve for one myself, I'm afraid. I try to avoid pain wherever I can :-)

    That said, though, I do like the tribal and celtic art ones too. But I'm a bit like Anna -- a lovely celtic armband might not look so good when I'm old, saggy and wrinkled.

  4. Nikki,
    I love tatts - on other people!! I'm not fond of needles at the best of times and I just don't want to be stuck with something I might hate later on (happened to my pop)
    I adore tatts on hero's, though I don't often have them on mine (In Ice-Cold Lover my hero had raised lettering down his spine which was branded in the old tribal ways)
    Ben Cousins has the body behind the tatts to pull off any design (Wry grin) I also love Harry Kewell's art *sigh*

  5. I am a bit of a sucker for tatts... but fussy too Nikki. I don't have one, would love to get one, but am undecided about what I want, whether I'd want it forever, and if I could handle the pain! I did enjoy the photos from your research!!! :-)

    And I have to agree with Mel about Ben Counsin and Harry Kewell (actually lots of sportsmen) *sigh*


  6. My tastes change too much over time to justify getting something permanent on my skin, but I do like that Denise Rossetti cover!

  7. I'm with Anna and Michelle (and Mel and Rachel ... what's with the LoveCats? Don't any of us want a tattoo?). Some tattoos look stunning -- and you have some fabulous ones in your post -- but I'm never going to get one!

  8. Gosh, I'm in the 'no tattoo for me' camp. Same reasons, would want a change, old and wrinkly and not brave enough - especially with needles.

    I'm not a huge fan of them on others either, but I do prefer not too much ink, and celtic/tribal over images and words.

    I did like the tattoo a soldier had on the inside of his wrist - it was a red tattoo of his wife's lips so he'd have them with him while he served overseas. Thought that was romantic (and better than a name).

  9. Okay - stepping up to the plate as a tattooed LoveCat - I have 4. 3 dragon tatts and 1 flying horse. My fav can be seen one of my web pages


    It is very special to me - kind of tribal - done only in black ink. It is a Yin and Yang dragon tatt to represent more of a balance in my life and also the two sides of my personality - the logical and the creative.

    I adore skin art - and like Nikki don't like stuff that is too busy or clumped together - though I have seen some unreal back art that really tells a story in itself. Celtic and tribal is my favourite though.

    You have hit on a passion of mine :)

  10. Kylie - with a name like Griffin you'd *have* to like dragons ;) So closely related...

    I'd love to see it when it goes on (and I say 'when', not 'if').

  11. Anna, Michelle, Mel, Catherine, Rach, Emily and Anita - wow! That's a lot of unadorned cats and cat-supporters! Would you consider Henna?

    I'm pro tattoo but also a keloid scarrer so any tattoo I got would turn into a lumpy, scarred mess so, sadly, no pretty ink for me.

    I figure that, like every other part of your body that once was taut and pretty and north-facing, an aging tatoo is no different to any other bits that fade, go grey or droop.

    Except they're the only bit you chose for yourself.

    Thanks for commenting, Ladies!

  12. I thought of you instantly when I started to write this, Trace. But I didn't know there were four! That's news.

    I'll sit with you and Kylie in the PRO seats :)

    (There are some truly shocking tats out there (and some exceptionally painful places to get them!) I had one more image...a fully tattooed tongue. OW!!! Hmmmm... wonder if my tongue would scar...)

  13. I love tats but did laugh when seeing Ruby Wax interviewing Drew Barrimore who showed a cute butterfly tat she'd just had done by her hip bone.
    "It's nice now," said Ruby, "but once you've had a couple of kids, all you'll be left with is one dead moth on your stomach."

  14. Tattoos and the reasons people get them are fascinating. I prefer single theme individual tattoos over a whole-body mixed-mural kind of effect. That pic of the Celtic tattoo is stunning, Nikki. And the dragon on the model for Denise's cover. And I like Tracie's Yin-Yang dragon tat.

    I don't think I'd ever actually take the step to have one done. It's something that's difficult to undo.

    Zana, I had to laugh at that Ruby Wax comment about the "butterfly" now to "dead moth" post-kids!