From well-crafted calligraphy to sophisticated script, find tattoo font inspiration for your next numerical, quote or name tattoo.
Wanderlust, warrior, wild and free… sometimes certain words just resonate with life experiences. Having a special name, date or word etched into your skin forever is one thing, but how do you pick the right tattoo font or style to bring it to life?
From traditional to typewriter fonts, we look into the latest lettering styles and hear from a few tattoo artists who specialise in the art form.
Tattoo fonts and writing styles
It goes without saying that different fonts will suit different tattoos. Perhaps a whimsical font would be fitting of romantic wording, whilst ethereal lettering would suit a phrase with more spiritual meaning.
You might find a well-known or simple font works for your chosen words, or seek out a tattoo lettering specialist with a particular writing style to create a bespoke design.
Classic tattoo script is one of the best known lettering styles for a tattoo, but it can be so much more than a font, as London-based Laura May of @lauramayartist_ explains.
"I love drawing custom script for my customers. Lettering has always played a huge part in my life and I’ve put hours of practise into refining my style.
"Script for me is about understanding flow not only of the letters and flourishes, but how it flows to accentuate the body. I always have the mindset of 'drawing' my lettering rather than simply 'writing'."
Made famous by the LA tattoo scene, the Chicano font style actually derives from the Mexican community. With themes of religious figures, skulls and flowers, the first appearance was in 1940s New Mexico, California and Texas, inspired by the Mexican American youth subculture of the Pachuco gang.
Known for its distinctive bold letters which taper into a swirl, the Chicano font itself was often used to remember loved ones lost, as well as loyalty, fortune, family and pride.
Tattoos that look as if they’ve been rattled out on a vintage typewriter are a popular choice too, usually found in lower case and finished with a full stop.
Wordsmiths and bookworms might find happiness in the typewriter font style, which looks effective for literature-based quotes, perhaps even accompanied by a bottle of ink or quill. American Typewriter, Courier and Rockwell are ones to seek out for a faux typewriter effect.
Name tattoo fonts
Name tattoos can look good in a variety of fonts - so maybe pick one that reflects their personality. That way, your tribute to a lost friend, family member or much-loved pet will embody their essence as well as their name.
If they were an artistic and creative person, maybe italics would suit their signature. Or if they loved flowers, perhaps incorporate their initials into a floral piece. You could even find an old birthday card where they signed their name or a heartfelt phrase, and ask for your tattoo artist to create a design from that.
Simple tattoo fonts
Although elaborate script and handwriting can look incredible as body art, a simple tattoo font might suit your special wording. Minimalist fonts include the likes of Avenir, Lemon Milk, Futura and Helvetica.
Remember if you want a small quote tattoo, you might still want to consider a substantial size to preserve the legibility and quality - as letters like a and o in a small font can close up over time.
Also known as cursive font, joined up handwriting styles are a popular choice when it comes to body art. They particularly suit dainty tattoos, as well as words inspired by whimsy and wanderlust.
Brighton based @nataliyatattoo frequently uses the font Signerica for her stunning, fine-lined lettering.
Calligraphy tattoo fonts
Calligraphy inspired fonts, like handwriting, can also bring interest and movement to a composition. Mardian, Mythshire and Zapfino have a decorative feel, but this style is usually best as a bespoke design created with a calligraphy pen.
Tattooist Jenny (@JennyMZY) currently based in Berlin with plans to be in London this summer, has a truly distinct lettering style which allows the words to almost melt into the skin.
Jenny's unique abstract lettering is custom-made for each project. Using her own visual language, each word or phrase is hand-drawn.
"This allows the text to perfectly fit the specific spot for the tattoo, to enhance the flow of the body, and to ensure visual balance of the piece," Jenny says.
Traditional tattoo font
Old school fonts are a good choice when it comes to four letter knuckle tattoos and 'Mum' scrolls. Just a quick image search online for 'traditional tattoo fonts' and you’ll find the famous Sailor Jerry style that works for this.
It’s often hand drawn though - so simply let your artist know the style you’re going for and they’ll etch up what you’re looking for.
Old English tattoo fonts
For a tattoo with an Old English feel, fonts such as Cambridge, Trattatello and Engravers work well. With their elaborate style, they usually work better for short words and phrases written in capitals. You might also find what you’re looking for with Blackletter, Medieval or Gothic fonts.
Numbering fonts for tattoos
If you’re considering a special number or date for your next tattoo sitting, you might want to consider fonts that work well for numbers.
Look out for serif fonts in particular, like Georgia, Academy Engraved and Copperplate Gothic, meaning the lettering has line strokes that work well for the M, X, L and I you find in Roman numerals.
The numbers themselves can differ too - would you prefer a swirling and elaborate 2 or a 7 with a line through it?
Whatever your favourite phrase, cherished person or unforgettable occasion, be sure to check out hashtags such as #tattoofont #scripttattoo and #letteringtattoos for some incredible talent and artistry.