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One of the Most Popular Themes in Tattooing
Whether it's a Japanese dragon swirling down an arm, a medieval dragon battling a wizard across an entire back piece or a tribal dragon design wrapping an ankle, these mythological creatures are represented in all the major tattoo styles.
Dragons are one of the most pervasive mythological creatures. They are found in stories all over the world, and yet no actual physical evidence of such creatures has ever definitely been discovered. While comparisons can be made between dragon descriptions and many genuine creatures, it's clear that the stories of dragons have a life all their own. No matter if you are looking for ideas for a dragon tattoo, or if you have one already and are looking to see what else is out there, this lens has something for you!
Dragon Tattoo History
In 1882, the young Duke of York, later to become King George V of England, got a tattoo of a dragon while on a visit to Japan. He was a midshipman on the H.M.S. Baccante at the time and traditional tattooist Hori Chyo executed the work. Whether perceived as creatures of air, fire, land or water, dragons have been popular across many styles of tattoo designs for a long time.
In Eastern traditions, dragons can be powerful allies and protectors as well as creatures of menace. They are often seening clutching or chasing the Pearl of Wisdom. In Japanese tattooing the dragons often cover an entire arm or leg, where their twisting body shapes wrap well around limbs, colorfully contrasting against dark backgrounds meant to symbolize wind or water.
Western dragons are often perceived as a threat, and tend to do battle with knights and wizards. They more often have wings in these interpretations and are often seen breathing fire. As with any creature or animal worn as a tattoo, many people wish to take on some of the qualities of these mythical creatures through their skin art.
Poll Into the Heart of the Dragon
At present, this book is out of print and you will have to get a used copy if you wish to own it. I feel this would be entirely worth it given the quality of the publication, put out by Hardy himself in an oversize hardcover edition. This is THE dragon book and it's of value to both tattoo artists and tattoo collectors.
Dragon Tattoo Design - by Don Ed Hardy
This tattoo design book by renowned tattooist Don Ed Hardy features nothing but dragons. There is a basic history and physiology of the creatures, along with tips for how to best recreate Hardy's drawings as tattoos, either as stand-alone pieces or integrated into existing ink.
And then the book just does what it does so brilliantly: it offers up page after page of Hardy's dragon designs. Some are large, some are small, some are very Asian, some are tribal. You get dragons that swim, ones that fly, some are drawn full-bodied and some are just close-ups of the head. If you need a finished design or are just wanting some inspiration, you can find plenty of both in this book.
You might also like 2000 Dragons also by Hardy. This was a fine art project done in honor of the year 2000, a year of the Dragon. Hardy painted on a 500 ft. continuous scroll of paper, producing 2000 different images of dragons. I had the chance to see this on exhibit in San Francisco and it's a fascinating exploration and journey.
Angelina Jolie Inspires A Tattoo Trend... then ditches the designs!
From one dragon to two dragons to no dragons
Angelina Jolie has twice had dragons tattooed on her, and twice she's gotten rid of them. I wonder if the supposed 15% of teenage girls who want a dragon tattoo because of her know this yet.
The following quote can be found on several quotation web sites under the topic of tattoos, but there's notation to when it was said or where:
"I dropped my pants in a tattoo parlor in Amsterdam. I woke up in a waterbed with this funky-looking dragon with a blue tongue on my hip. I realized I made a mistake, so a few months later I got a cross to cover it. When my pants hang low, it looks like I'm wearing a dagger!"
So, when you see that large black cross on her belly, remember there's a dragon under it. In this picture, you can see a pair of tattoos on her left upper arm. It reads "Billy Bob" and there is a dragon underneath it.
Both of those tattoos are now gone. The name and dragon have been lasered-off and replaced with the tattooed latitudes and longitudes that correspond to the birthplaces of all her children.
Dragon Tattoo Videos
Here's where you'll get to see some dragon designs and tattoos come to life!
The Tribal Dragon Tattoos of REIGN OF FIRE
In REIGN OF FIRE, actor Matthew McConaughey plays Denton Van Zan, an American soldier come to England to hunt down the source of the plague of dragons that has scorched the Earth.
His character is pretty well covered in dragon-theme tattoos. The blackwork on his arms looks like dragons in flight or wing shapes and when he takes off his vest, you can see stylized dragons curling up his chest and around his pecs. It's as much a fantastic design job as it is a testimony to his personal trainer. You don't look that hot if you have tattoos like this but don't have the cut pecs and a six-pack to support the artwork.
Van Zan is a dragonslayer who has chosen to wear symbols of dragons to signify his ability to overpower them. In addition to his ink, he also wears a dragon's tooth necklace.
In the poll at the top of this lens about dragon tattoos the majority of people say they come here because they are thinking about getting this type of imagery. So... did you finally go out and get a tattoo of a dragon or what? If you have a dragon tattoo, please tell us what the design looks like, why you got it and what the experience was like!