What typeface should I use for my tattoo?
July 14, 2012 11:29 AM   Subscribe

I need help finding a typeface for a (text-based) tattoo.

I'm getting a tattoo of some lorem ipsum text tattooed on my forearm, and I'm trying to settle on a typeface. I'm looking for a serif typeface associated primarily with typesetting for books, and right now I think I've narrowed it down to Garamond or Minion by doing some basic research and looking through books I think are attractively set until I find ones that include a detailed design credit.

That said, I'm still a total novice on this subject, and I'd really appreciate recommendations, feedback, or, for extra credit, the name of the typeface used for Vintage's paperback editions of Nabokov.
posted by Merzbau to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Vintage used Galliard for its Collected Stories of Nabokov, which I just looked inside on Amazon – is that the one you mean?

Note that fine serifs and details can be difficult to achieve in tattoo work and can fade and run. If you've picked out an artist, you should consult them about the kind of lettering they feel they can do cleanly, before becoming too married to any specific font.
posted by zadcat at 11:58 AM on July 14, 2012

Thanks! My copy of the Collected Stories (1997) doesn't have a design credit, but it seems to match the samples on the myfonts page.

I'm going to do this fairly large (running more or less from wrist to elbow, letters maybe an inch high) so hopefully serifs won't be too much of a problem, but as always I'm going to have a copy printed out and ready to go over with the artist beforehand.
posted by Merzbau at 12:06 PM on July 14, 2012

I like Cheltenham for a vintage look. Something in the Century family would give a nice "classic book" feel, too.
posted by milk white peacock at 2:07 PM on July 14, 2012

I'm a fan of Caslon faces, No. 540 in particular.
posted by Bruce H. at 2:26 PM on July 14, 2012

Definitely talk to your tattoo artist before getting too attached to a typeface. Especially if the typeface is half the point, as it probably is if you're getting Lorem Ipsum et al.

I just got a text-based tattoo a couple weeks ago. I love it and the artist did an amazing job. I'm truly honored to wear her work on my body for the rest of my life.


My tattoo is a line from Alan Ginsberg's Howl (also on my forearm from elbow to wrist, also in letters about an inch high). I went in pretty much set on having it done in the same typeface as the book, or something extremely similar (I was thinking Baskerville, which is the closest thing I have on my home computer to whatever was used in the original printing).

I showed my idea to the artist, and she blanket refused to even attempt to do what I wanted in any book style typeface. The straight lines were too precise, everything was too close together, and she also told me that at the size we were talking about, the holes in the lower case "a"s and "e"s would close up in a few years.

I listened to her advice and ended up having the tattoo done in Courier instead. It's not exactly how I imagined it, but it looks wonderful and will for a long ass time.
posted by Sara C. at 2:26 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I dropped in at the tattoo parlor tonight and got the go-ahead for Galliard (or a similar serif font) at that size. The only letter that could be tricky is the small, high loop on the lowercase e, and that can probably be tweaked a little without sacrificing my precious, precious serifs.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. Looks like I'll be going ahead with this sometime around mid-August.
posted by Merzbau at 9:24 PM on July 14, 2012

« Older Please tell me who this character is.   |   Northeast US and Atlantic Canada roadtrip... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.