...now where's that Egyptian pine bark...?
April 6, 2009 4:08 PM   Subscribe

My next tattoo is going to run the length of my torso's right side, from about mid-breast to inner thigh. I'd like to avoid the usual sort of vines/leaves/faux-tribal clichés, with a similarly organic or flowing feel, and in a more modern style. Can you recommend some resources for interesting patterns or motifs? (Nb.: I've already explored the wide world of tattoo sites, so I'm looking for more intriguing ideas, i.e., scientific diagrams and the like.)
posted by mykescipark to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (43 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you have a penchant for early 20th century modernism (art nouveau, Vienna secession, futurism, Bauhaus, etc.), you might find some interesting inspiration in something like this.
posted by scody at 4:25 PM on April 6, 2009

More representational than "designy" but what about a trail of Vintage candies like LifeSavers, Tootsie Pops, Good and Plenty, Liquorice Allsorts, Double Bubble, Wax Lips, Sweethearts,..
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:31 PM on April 6, 2009

Best answer: Since you asked for scientific diagrams, have you seen Tuesday Physics Tatoos? It came up when I did a google image search on Feynman diagrams.
posted by demiurge at 4:36 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I saw someone who had a quote written down their side like you imagine yours, and it looked really cool.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:39 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I always liked this ATP tattoo.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:40 PM on April 6, 2009

I love the illustration of Si Scott (a blog that he posts to). His work is black and white and very curvy and delicious without being tribal or viney or anything except awesome. His work is very detailed so it might need to modified for a tattoo.
posted by zpousman at 4:41 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm honestly not sure if this is even feasible or not, but how about some sort of spectrogram of a favorite word, quote, or part of a song?
posted by DingoMutt at 4:42 PM on April 6, 2009

I'm always thinking that the USB symbol would make a good tattoo. if anyone does this, remember it's my idea
posted by mattoxic at 4:43 PM on April 6, 2009

Megan Fox has text down her side, and it looks good on her... duh
posted by nicwolff at 4:43 PM on April 6, 2009

Best answer: String a bunch of molecules together. Made With Molecules has jewelry of molecular structures that are pretty and have some meaning. A line of capsaicin and estrogen could be very pretty.
posted by rhapsodie at 4:48 PM on April 6, 2009

OOOOOOOOH! I have no worthwhile suggestions, but please post and let us know what you decided to get. I love the idea of a tattoo running down the torso.
posted by Maisie at 4:50 PM on April 6, 2009

Best answer: Cloud chamber tracks?
posted by Orb2069 at 4:51 PM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]

Best answer: What about something from an old anatomy textbook? Perhaps a cross-section of a torso on the same area - not 'realistic' but more like a diagram, with dotted lines, arrows, names.
posted by barnone at 4:55 PM on April 6, 2009

Similar to scody's suggestion, check out The Grammar of Ornament for some classic visual ideas: blog post with some scans, Flickr set of more scans, and you .
posted by dreamyshade at 4:57 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I mean..."and you can Google up some more scans."
posted by dreamyshade at 4:57 PM on April 6, 2009

Best answer: DNA! A stylized DNA double-helix could be long, beautiful, and meaningful at many levels.

You may also like some of the designs collected by science nerds in the
Science Tattoo Emporium

posted by chrisamiller at 5:04 PM on April 6, 2009

Fractals can be gorgeous, flowing, organic, and modern. A Google image search is a good place to start looking. The Mandelbrot set is probably the most famous fractal (at least, to laymen like me) but I think the Julia sets are prettier.
posted by Quietgal at 5:10 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've always liked stuff like this.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 5:13 PM on April 6, 2009

A long geographic feature, like a river, a coastline, a long island or a mountain range.
posted by jefftang at 5:15 PM on April 6, 2009

I TOTALLY agree with @Quietgal. Definitely get the Mandelbrot set or something fractal related.
posted by xdeliriumx at 5:15 PM on April 6, 2009

There's an earlier question about fractal tattoos — "the resolution of needles on human skin doesn't really allow for 'fractal'-type complexity". Apparently not impossible, but tricky.
posted by dreamyshade at 5:19 PM on April 6, 2009

You could do a cool Frank Lloyd Wright glass panel design down your side.
posted by rmless at 5:25 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Let me put forward this wonderful fickr pool - Great Diagrams in Anthropology, Linguistics, & Social Theory, with this being one of my favorites because of its wonderful artistic style.

Or if you want something that is more "hard science" how about an artistic version of a Hertzsprung–Russell diagram (particularly the main sequence line)?
posted by strixus at 5:34 PM on April 6, 2009

Gah, that first link should go here
posted by strixus at 5:35 PM on April 6, 2009

posted by univac at 5:39 PM on April 6, 2009

Old-style map
posted by grobstein at 5:57 PM on April 6, 2009

Mayan inscription
posted by mrt at 5:58 PM on April 6, 2009

Your name in amino acids.
posted by kldickson at 6:19 PM on April 6, 2009

It mostly only works if your name is a fairly long name .
posted by kldickson at 6:20 PM on April 6, 2009

Ernst Haeckel drawings from Kunstformen der Natur, absolutely stunning.
posted by nikitabot at 6:38 PM on April 6, 2009

How about some M. C. Escher? I would recommend Metamorphose, myself. If it's too long, you could just pock a section.
posted by Gneisskate at 6:43 PM on April 6, 2009

With all due respect, I think you're going about it backwards. Seems to me you ought to wait til you find something that strikes you so profoundly that you're willing to inscribe it on your body, at no small cost, inconvenience, and pain.
posted by Sublimity at 7:47 PM on April 6, 2009

Response by poster: Subliminity: I have plenty of tattoos that meet that criteria already. :-) I'm eager to explore terra incognita this time around, however. (And boy, do I like the pain.)
posted by mykescipark at 7:54 PM on April 6, 2009

I'm not so sure about how to make this work, but what about an illustration of the sound waves for say.... a favorite quote, someones name, lyrics etc...
posted by kgreerRN at 8:01 PM on April 6, 2009

Response by poster: (Gah, sorry about the user name misspell above.)
posted by mykescipark at 8:17 PM on April 6, 2009

Just to warn you, though you probably already know this, that tattoos there hurt. I have a chest piece and it hurt way, way less than the large tattoo on my side that goes from the bottom of my ribs to my upper thigh. The severe pain was part of the reason it's not finished.

Seriously, be ready for ows.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:10 PM on April 6, 2009

Response by poster: Awesome suggestions, people. I enjoyed looking at all the links and ideas, but had to Best Answer those that were closest to my aesthetic. Thank you!
posted by mykescipark at 9:19 PM on April 6, 2009

A friend of mine has a poem in flowing script winding down her side from shoulder to ankle. Given a suitable text and a calligraphically inclined tattooist, that might be worth investigating.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:17 PM on April 6, 2009

Best answer: It's definitely a tattoo site, but Daemon Rowanchilde at Urban Primitive is the best tattoo artist in Canada and has plenty of photos on his site. He did the character design for Nightcrawler based on Hebrew angelic script.
posted by sixswitch at 4:33 AM on April 7, 2009

I realize you said no vines, but botanical prints can be pretty cool in a victorian sciencey kinda way.
posted by electroboy at 6:56 AM on April 7, 2009

Jellyfish! Those can be so beautiful, especially if you have a lot of space to work with for the tentacle bits.
posted by meggan at 2:08 PM on April 7, 2009

Re: Orb2069's suggestion : "Subatomic doodling" tattoo
posted by attercoppe at 9:15 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

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