Some of the most personal tattoos are those with words or script incorporated into the overall piece or those that are comprised solely of words without much other visual embellishment, so finding the best fonts for tattoos is key when planning some new ink. When you factor a favorite saying, song lyric, or film dialogue quote into a tattoo, it's instantly customized and such a personal representation of you! So it's of critical importance for tattoos with words to be in legible fonts and for the words to be in a crisp, clear, properly sized script.
In addition to picking a font others can read, the other important thing to consider is that the font should aesthetically match the rest of the tattoo, if applicable.
"The top three fronts for females [getting tattoos], in my experience, have been the Queen of the Moon, Birds of Paradise, and the Angilla fonts," Joe Klein of Majestik Creations in Mooresville, Indiana tells me over email. "They are all simple enough to be legible but still hold a 'feminine' quality, as far as flowing, curvy, and dainty properties."
The Angilla font is best for "bigger pieces and has enough room for half-shading or color-filling the letters," according to Klein. He said that Queen of the Moon and Birds of Paradise "have virtually unlimited ways to add different filigree and give it the wispy, sensual look."
Even though these are his picks for pre-made fonts, Klein thinks that custom fonts are actually the best option for anyone.
"In my professional opinion, having an artist that can design and draw original fonts out of their heads is sometimes the best way to go as far as staying original and setting your own vibe for your piece," Klein told me. "After all, tattoos are a form of self-expression and originality screams, 'I am my own person.'"
Klein noted that it's important to not "cram a lot of script into a small area when tattooing. That's because "over time the derma pockets in your skin grow; so the ink will spread and your script will be hard to read, if legible at all." No wants that, so take heed!
Brian Keith Thompson, owner of Body Electric Tattoo in Los Angeles, doesn't recommend specific fonts. Rather, he suggests doing a little research to find the perfect lettering. "I see a lot of basic scripts being used right now," Thompson tells me. "But beyond that, there’s really no specific font that’s particularly popular. There are literally thousands of them nowadays. Any font is good, depending on personality and what you're looking for."
He continues by mentioning that many people turn to websites that generate phrases in specific fonts, so they can see exactly what the piece will look like. "A lot of people go to Da Font and choose one, then bring it into the studio. In 1992, it was different. But these days, you can test-drive them, which is pretty cool."
Tattoo apprentice and NYC publicist Rachel Rosenberg offered some insight to me regarding choosing a font, saying, "In my opinion and experience, an embellished script font works best for most wording that will be tattooed. A very nice cursive that will move with the body’s natural curves, no matter where the tattoo is placed, will nine times out of 10 be your best option."
However, she did explain why certain fonts are less desirable. "Bolder fonts, like Old English and Typewriter fonts, require a lot of fill in with black ink. Filled-in wording, with a lot of black, by a non-experienced tattoo artist, will heal and you will see the missing circles they thought they had achieved while tattooing."
But the golden rule is this. "Wording though, no matter what the font, should be the proper size," Rosenberg said. "With time, a smaller-sized font will most likely become blurred and require a touch up. Listen to your artist if they think you’re going too tiny! A nice cursive with fluid embellishments, for me, is the way to go."
Who knew there were so many font options? Do your research and due diligence before inking up, and recognize that bigger will likely be better in the long run. If your tattoo is a literal statement, you want people to be able to read it.
Images: Courtesy of Da Font (4)