Getting a Tribute Tattoo After the Death of a Loved One

To continue our series of articles about American death inspired art, we feature the common practice of tribute tattoo art that honors and memorializes the loss of a loved one.

Memorial tattoo of Steve Jobs to commemorate
his contributions of technology to the world.
(Photo and tattoo by  Nikko Hurtado)

Tattoo art dates back almost 5000 years, but it has become a trend in modern history. Tattoo designs were often a mark of individualism and even rebellion, but with sports figures’ and celebrity tattoos, the world has come to accept them. In fact, some people say that if you want to appear rebellious in today’s society, you should forego getting a tattoo, because so many people have them.

As tattoos become more commonplace, so do tribute tattoos: when someone gets a tattoo design dedicated to someone loved and lost. Some people describe how when a person gets “inked,” he or she is absorbing some of the loved one into themselves. Some tattoo artists even incorporate the ashes of a cremated loved one into the ink used in memorial tattoos.

Family tribute tattoos are not uncommon today, even amongst celebrities. Actress Hannah Walters of the British television series Whitechapel has a swirling butterfly inked on her foot using her mother’s ashes. Singer Rhianna has the Goddess Isis as a memorial tattoo for her grandmother. Bobby Christina and her boyfriend have the initials of Bobby Christina’s mother, Whitney Houston, surrounded by doves as tribute tattoos on their wrists.

Family Memorial Tattoo Design(Photo by Gronman)

Celebrity tattoos, like anyone’s tattoo ideas, can range from highly symbolic to highly personal in commemorating the loss of a loved one. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 has a dove with cherry blossoms tattooed in remembrance of the 9/11 victims. Megan Fox is quoted as idolizing Marilyn Monroe, and has a memorial tattoo for Monroe. Kelly Osbourne knew Joan Rivers as a friend, mentor, and an example of the kind of success she wanted to be, so Osbourne had a bumblebee inked in Rivers’ honor. The ink in Kelly Osbourne’s tribute tattoo is unusual, too, in that it is white.

It is common for musicians, particularly hip-hop artists and rappers to have tribute tattoos, especially for other rappers. Tattoos have become a part of the hip-hop image, especially tattoos that commemorate the death of a loved one. Snoop Dogg sports a tattoo for his long-time friend and producer, Nate Dogg; Eminem has a memorial tattoo in honor of hometown hero, Proof; and The Game has a tribute tattoo design that features fellow-rapper Tupac Shakur, as an angel.

Tribute tattoos are a very personal way to remember someone. The tattoo will likely be with the person for a long time, if not forever, and will always have an emotional meaning. Getting a memorial tattoo is a way to heal from the death of a loved one, by keeping the person close and letting others know about him or her. Of course, one classic tribute tattoo design is the one that honors “Mom.” No one can go wrong with that one.

Everlasting Footprint reminds everyone to celebrate life together. Build digital tributes, share stories and memories, and connect with loved ones through EF.

About Cindy Readnower

Cindy Readnower, MBA, specializes in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. An award-winning certified Life Coach, business consultant, and publisher at Skinny Leopard Media, she helps writers produce and promote their books. She is a newspaper columnist, author of "Inherited Secrets," and a blogger.

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