Tattoo-Inspired Graphic Design

When skin is too permanent a canvas for your art, other mediums can come into play, such as fabric, paper, packaging and even websites. A benefit? Graphic designers can make the colors as rich as they want, the ink won’t fade (not the same as on skin, anyway), and designers can always change their minds and change up the art a bit.

When I look at tattoo-inspired designs, I get a sense of hipness – something that caters to a 20- to 30-something crowd. Other times I think less of age and more of an old-timey theme, such as rockabilly and sailors in saloons.

Take a look at the following examples of tattoo design that found their way onto marketing materials, packaging, attire and other gear, and think about how it makes you feel – does it turn you off, or are you drawn in?

Flyer for a concert at Sailor Jerry in Philadelphia.

Typical tattoo styles such as pinup girls and pirates adorn this bedding by Sin in Linen.

Sleeve Vodka packaging by designer AshleeBee.

Tote bag with tattoo-style embroidery via Furniture Creations.

The labeling for Ed Hardy wines is by Christian Audigier, who licensed the graphics of tattoo pioneer Don Ed Hardy.

Sometimes a tattoo is too permanent for people, in which case a bracelet with a tattoo-like pattern rests closely against the skin.

This energy drink was launched by 7-Eleven in 2007 and was obviously aimed at tattooed hipsters. But now I can’t find it anywhere. Misplaced marketing concept?

The art of Chris Cooper, aka Coop, includes tattoo icons such as hotrods, monsters and devils.

Joe Coleman’s collage art could work as a highly detailed sleeve tattoo, but here he combines his macabre taste with more traditional skin art styles.

Artist Ed Roth, who created the character of Rat Fink – an anti-Mickey Mouse – incorporated car culture into his drawings.

Mitch O’Connell designs tattoos, does print work and has illustrated a series of decks for Pop Art Skateboards.

Tattoos inspire graffiti artists who in turn inspire tattoo designers.

Naturally, Inked magazine is going to have tattoo-inspired clothing in its retail shop.

I own this shirt designed by John Sherlock Hersey that pays tribute to Oakland A’s legend Rollie Fingers and Mexican culture. In addition, I have a similar sugar skull tattoo.

This poster by Todd Slater is a pretty take on a prison tattoo.

A tattoo parlor website designed by Bradley Wiatr features rich colors that contrast nicely with a dark background.