Lettering Tattoos

Everything You Need to Know About Lettering Tattoos

Lettering tattoos are some of the most classic. They can range from bold to delicate. And whether it’s a single letter, a solitary word, or a phrase, this style of tattoos are gorgeous. There’s a reason they’re some of the most popular. Unfortunately, they’re also the style you see most often in those “biggest tattoo fails” lists.

Make sure to follow these tips and pieces of advice so that you don’t end up on one of those lists.

Size Matters

Size matters (get your laughter out now), especially when it comes to tattoos. Here’s something to keep in mind: no matter how skilled and experienced your tattoo artist is the ink will end up smudging and bleeding over time. This is totally normal and most of the time it doesn’t impact the design. However, if you have a tiny script this smudging can make it unreadable.

If you’re getting lettering tattoos, whether it’s a word or a phrase, chances are you want people- or at least yourself- to be able to read it. Make sure you pick a font and a size that won’t be unreadable in a few years. A good tattoo artist will be able to advise you on the best size to go with so head their words.


Fonts Carry Meaning

Fonts, just like with most of tattoos designs and symbols, carry a certain meaning. It’s easy to see a style and fall in love with it but make sure you know the implications. Gothic calligraphy, for example, is often associated with gangs and prisons. This doesn’t mean you can’t get this style of font, but it’s still a good idea to know the association it carries.



Double, Triple, Check Grammar and Spelling

If there is one thing that will land you on the list of tattoo mistakes its grammar and spelling mistakes. It falls on you to double and triple check this. Don’t rely on your tattoo artist. Tattoos are permanent- so don’t end up permanently looking stupid.

Have someone else, or multiple people, look at your phrase or word before getting it inked on your body. Trust us, you’ll thank us for this.



Translate Properly

People like to get lettering tattoos in other languages, and we get it. Some languages just have really pretty looking script. But please, please please please, make sure it is translated correctly. Make sure the grammar and spelling are correct or you’re going to look like an ignorant fool.

We highly recommend that you don’t rely on Google Translate either. While it is great, it isn’t always accurate. Have a native speaker translate it for you. And no, you cousin that took a semester of Latin in college doesn’t count. Reddit and Quora are great for getting help if you need it. It might be a good idea to track down a credible translation too (the Internet is full of trolls). Swing by your university language lab or head to Chinatown. You don’t want to end up with the wrong sentence structure or a Chinese symbol that means trash.


Pick the Right Font

Ever see a lettering tattoo that looks off at first glance? Here’s the thing, even if you have the right size, spelling, and grammar, some fonts can make certain words look…well, dirty. You’ve probably seen those tattoos that have an innocent word only for it to look like something obscene due to a poor font choice.

Once the stencil gets made, take a step back from it and make sure it’s clear what it says. Ask others for their opinion too.


Choose Placement Wisely

Placement is incredibly important when it comes to lettering tattoos. A single word can fit almost anywhere, but a phrase takes more thought. It’s not all about pain either.

Phrases look great length wise on arms. While you can do a bracelet type style, be prepared for people to go “wait, so what does it say?” as they awkwardly twist your arm. If you’re unsure about the best placement ask your tattoo artist.


The Meaning

More so than any other tattoo style, lettering usually has meaning. Whether it’s a name of a loved one, an inspirational word, or a favorite phrase, these tattoos have a special hold over us.

We always emphasize that tattoos don’t have to have meaning – if you just like how they look that’s fine. But be prepared for everyone to ask what it means. You don’t have to tell them- but know they’ll ask.


Pick the Right Artist

We always stress this because it’s so important. Tattoo artists are usually specialized in certain styles. While lettering might not seem like it’s a style, it is. Most artists can do it, but make sure you’ve seen their work before. Always look at their portfolios.

Lettering might seem simple but it’s probably one of the hardest styles. There isn’t any room for error. You want to go to a skilled artist that has experience. Not only do you want the tattoo to look good but you also want to make sure they can give you good advice on design, size, and placement.


Contact us today or visit our downtown Toronto tattoo shop to get your new lettering tattoo!


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