5 Things to Know before getting your Steampunk Tattoo

Plague Doc Blog

You’ll see around the web lots of pages that talk about steampunk tattoo ideas, or that will show you lots of ink designs. Well, you might pick one if you like, but as you’ve seen, not all of them seem to fit quite right into that place. Keep reading to find out what should you take into account before placing your next steampunk ink into your body.

Watch out for colorful tattoos

The thing is that steampunk array of colors varies between gold, brown, and silver. There is this thing, especially with gold and silver ink, that is they usually do not withstand the test of time. Let me rephrase it. If you place some beautiful gold on your tattoo sleeve, after a while I’ll get dull. In addition, you’ll end up having to re-ink it in a couple of years. And during that time, it won’t look like the first days before you made it. Our recommendation is to avoid gold. You’ll remember us when it turns yellow in a couple of years.

The same thing can be said about washed colors. Traditionally, the exact keyword for this phenomena is “color wash”. But you know what I’m trying to say. Water washed colors also tend to fade through time. And this leaves you no choice but to ink again your design. You will turn into a frequent shopper at your tattoo shop in no time.

But this is not the end for colors in steampunk tattoos. You can always add up some color in some locations. For example, if you have a figure in your ink, like a bird or a gentleman, you could color their beak and hat. The idea behind all of this is that you should try not to create a wide base with an amazing gold or red because it will tend to fade in a couple of months.

Owl Tattoo Bird by brenkee. Licensed under CC.

Steampunk watches: Cautionary note

Steampunk clocks are an insignia of the steampunk cultural movement for several reasons. The concept of time travel is present in a number of steampunk novels. Thus, it is logical to go for it on a tattoo. But the thing with watches is its roundness. You have to be very careful about where to place your steampunk watch if you wish one. There are certain spots on the body where a clock won’t fit well. Yes, I know you were thinking of placing it on your shoulder. Well, then be prepared for distortions.

The fact is that tattoos which are placed on joints with a high grade of movement ( such as the shoulder, the elbow or the knee) tend to have quite an elastic skin on top. This means that skin is able to stretch much more than in every other place.

Our recommendation is that is you are already on with your steampunk tattoo watch project, then you go for it at the back, in the torso, the calf or thigh. These places won’t assure you there won’t be distortion, but at least you will know that they will keep the shape way much better than in the places we described before.

Forearm Clock by Myriams-Fotos. Licensed under CC.

Biomechanical tattoo sleeves

Before you embark on your steampunk tattoo, you must make a couple of assumptions. We all know that we have our tattoos for certain reasons, but there is always a common idea that bonds every tattoo in the world. Tattoos are ink. Ink is placed on the body to be seen. Doesn’t matter by whom, but it’s placed there for someone to take a look, whether is you or someone else.

Having this said, we’ll get into the section of biomechanical tattoos. Yes, they are amazing. And yes, they are 100% steampunk in nature. Mainly because they share this idea of technology through coils and gears, up to the point that can replace parts of a human being. There is a little of robotics and cyberpunk in there too.

Steampunk Sleeve by Herco. Licensed under CC.

Take care with the amount of detail that you place in your steampunk biomechanical sleeve. There a lot of people out there that have done amazingly intricate devices in their inking. And here is a fact: People will often see your tattoo from a certain distance. It doesn’t matter how much distance. The more complex you create your tattoo, the more difficult will be for others to be recognized.

Besides, details inside the tattoo are created with black lines. Why? Because they are used to create the tattoo plot. So if you place a ridiculously amount of detail in your tattoo, in the end, it will look more like black goth rather than anything else.

So if you’d go for some biotech sleeve, we suggest you choose colors from the black to white gamut, add a couple of details in color if you wish for, and avoid complex designs.

Steampunk design: What’s gonna be about?

We’ve seen steampunk tattoos of all kinds. There is a reason for an animal or a person to be in every tattoo. In steampunk, there are certain animals that have their own meaning. We have talked throughout our pages that in steampunk the birds take a certain place. The same goes for the classical steampunk girls. And so the list goes. Keep reading to find which designs are the most appropriate for the steampunk culture.

Steampunk birds

Birds have a reason to have our first spot. Mainly, because they represent the ability to fly. This idea is truly expanded in steampunk literature throughout steam powered aircrafts. Birds have an amazing characteristic for steampunk inkers, and that is that birds can have a great number of details in their feathers. Steampunk ink shops usually tend to combine bird figures with valves, tubes, and gears. The result is a mechanized bird. These are a great alternative for people who are thinking about their first steampunk tattoo.

If we had to choose one bird over every each other, we would choose the owl. The owl has additional features. It’s a nighttime wanderer. This adds up a little of mystery to your ink design.  Besides, owls would be great for details in the gray palette.

Steampunk plague doctor

Well, this, in fact, is an amazing design. We’ve already talked at our steampunk masks section of the significance of the plague doctor and why it ends up taking a part in the steampunk movement. The plague doctor has a couple of additional details that can also be carved in grayscale with no major issues. This will give you a great tattoo with a little bit of spookiness behind. But, all in all, it’s a great character to have in your skin.

We recommend you to place tiny details of color in certain spots, such as around the doctor’s mask eyes. This will make some contrast and will catch everyone’s attention.

Steampunk cats

There is a thing about cats. They are not only cute, but they can be easily mechanized. They are great for steampunk. Once again, you’ve seen it in our steampunk masquerades section. Cats have this amazing capability of being extremely complex in details as well. But they can be inked in simpler forms too. This is a great attribute for your ink master. He will feel comfortable to create your plot with no need to accomplishing an extremely detailed draft.

What’s about steampunk in a cat? Cats can turn into steampunk cyborgs just by placing over them some of the half masks we’ve talked before. And that’s it. If you wanted to ink yourself your beloved cat, you can immortalize him in a unique steampunk style.

What to avoid?

Our suggestion is to avoid human faces. Why? Because they are packed full of details. Maybe there is not much detail in the design. But there is something about face recognition in human beings that turn us much more critical about human faces.  This doesn’t mean you cannot go for it. This means that you should take care when trying. This is a matter of conversation with your ink master. Take a look at his previous faces. If you don’t feel like he’s doing a great job, then I suggest you quit this idea.

Steampunk cartoons

Cartoons open up a much wider space for design. Despite we’ve just said that human faces should be avoided, when in cartoon mode, you can have a full person as a design. This is due to the possibility of the human being to recognize what is a fantasy from what is not. This means that people won’t be so critical about your tattoo if it contains a cartoon character.

Which designs are steampunk and cool? You will find mostly skulls, octopuses, pirates, bugs, owls and even lolitas.  In this way, the specter of possibilities widens up. And that is good. You will be able to choose from more designs than before.

In this case, you can also add up some color to your cartoons: It will make them stand out over the rest.

Steampunk minimalism

There is a place for steampunk minimalism in the ink industry. Gears and coils can be designed with minimal black lines and will fit great into tiny places, such as fingers, wrists, ankles, and neck. Gears can also be colored in grayscale, and they will keep having this glamorous feel for years.

Other symbols that can be achieved in a minimalistic design are the plague doctor, wrenches, zeppelins, submarines, and cyborgs such as animals or bugs. All of these are neat designs that will go along with the rest of your steampunk attire.

Steampunk ink size

Try not to create massive tattoos in steampunk style. Due to the complexity of the designs, giant tattoos are prone to be poorly understood by others. Imagine yourself with an enormous back tattoo that includes a landscape with air-flying ships, steam, tubes, pipes, clocks, and clocks. It’s not only pretty hectic but it also can drive one mad. In the end, the conclusion is that those type of tattoos is not quite pleasant to the eye. And if you are going to place it on your back, it is probable that you won’t be the only spectator for the work of art.

The ideal size we recommend is six inches in height x four inches long for figure tattoos. This is a quite nice dimension that can be placed in thighs, calves,  and arms. If you go for bigger inks, especially in the upper torso, we suggest you go for full sleeves. Why? Because ink sleeves have different themes on a same common basis. A sleeve will give you the possibility of interlinking content from different topics. You could draft a plague doctor together with a cat escaping from a zeppelin, running down post-industrial Steampunkish London streets.  Now try to fit that on a single piece for your calf. That would be hard.

I’m plain out of steampunk ideas. Where can I get one?

That all, for now, folks. I hope you enjoyed our article. If you are plain out of ideas for your next steampunk tattoo, we recommend you to scroll through our steampunk masks, art and movies sections.

In there, you will have a couple of resources for you to get creative. And even then, if nothing else comes from there, you can try some of our documentaries.

In there, there is even one that has a special section filled with steampunk ideas for your “do it yourself” projects. You can find the links on our steampunk store homepage.