Dystopian-themed Tattoos

Dystopian-themed Tattoos

We are almost at the time where holiday cheer and spirit may inspire us to see things a little brighter in the midst of the dark winter months. However many other things are still conspiring to keep us in darker spirits. So we thought we would embrace the darker mood and dive into some of the crossovers between dystopian fiction and tattooing. 

George Orwell

George Orwell’s 1984 has a clear standing among dystopian classics. And so have themes from the book in the world of tattooing. The big brother eye and propaganda posters lend themselves as the perfect motives for styles such as trash polka, or drawing on Russian avant-garde or Soviet typography.

Meanwhile, tattoos also have a special place in the life of George Orwell, who’s real name was Eric Arthur Blare. While serving with the Imperial Police in Myanmar (Burma) in the 1920s, Orwell came to despise colonial policy and imperialism. This led him to resign his position in 1928. However, not before having received small tattoos in the shape of blue-ish spots on his knuckles.

Those who saw the tattoos say that they were in the shape of small grapefruits. As tattooing was a form of self-expression and identification with those who rebelled against British rule of Burma, it is quite probable that Orwell received them as a sign of solidarity with their cause. 

Margaret Atwood

Another author that has inspired countless tattoo motives with her works is Margaret Atwood. Her classic turned mainstream phenomena The Handmaid’s Tale has made the phrase ‘nolite te bastardes carborundorum’ common pop cultural knowledge, and many choose to have the words (which mean ‘do not let the bastards grind you down’) accompany scenes from the book, or simply as a stand-alone quote.

We can all use a little bit of that grit, even if we are far away from as dire a situation as Offred. Now that is a cheerful thought. In the novel, the ankles of the handmaids are also marked with tattoos to identify them, although these were replaced in the TV-series with red tags with serial identifiers attached to their ears. 

The Matrix

With The Matrix Resurrection on its way to cinemas right before Christmas, we would be amiss not to mention the Wachkowski classic from 1999 (has it really been that long?!). The movie (ok, movies, there are two more, and if you haven’t watched them it might be a good idea to be caught up ahead of Resurrection).

And there is so much symbolism to choose from when it comes to Matrix-inspired tattoo ideas! Of course, a realistic portrait of Keanu is never wrong. There is the red vs blue pill, or the scene where Morpheus first offers the choice to Neo. One favourite is also the white rabbit tattoo itself which Neo has to ‘follow’, drawing on references from the original mind-bender Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 

There is much more to say about dystopian works and tattooing, check back in before long should you need some gloom and doom in the midst of eggnog and Christmas sweaters.


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