Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (2024)

If you’re a tattoo enthusiast who loves big books and you cannot lie, this is the blog for you! This Book Lovers Day we’re collecting our favourite book-inspired tattoos from our incredible sponsored artists.

Now let’s talk rules. If a tattoo shows a film, it’s a film based on a book. Yes, we’re including comics, graphic novels and manga – no we’re not including audiobooks (how would you even show that?).

So check out these tattoos, enjoy, and get inspiration for your next literature-themed tattoo!

Keely Glitters & Alex Wright

“Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.”

First off, let’s get carried away by a little romance – no Danielle Steel required! Keely Glitters used her signature glitter effect to create this heart with a line from Casey McQuiston’s LGBT romance novel Red, White & Royal Blue, while Alex Wright took a scene from the film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, the classic romance mystery written by Gaston Leroux.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (2)

Stefano Galati & Helena Ferron

“Life is filled with secrets. You can’t learn them all at once.”

Remember when The Da Vinci Code was the biggest book around? And now it’s one of the most commonly found in charity shops! Stefano Galati inked this black and red piece inspired by the mysteries of The Da Vinci Code, including the Mona Lisa, the Vitruvian Man and Benjamin Franklin. Helena Ferron created this black and grey portrait piece of Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in the first film adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, featuring a Swedish newspaper as background.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (4)

Kyle “Egg” Williams & Jean Mognon

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

Of course, there are a lot of classic books out there – so we’ve stuck with just two iconic stories that are commonly made into tattoos. Kyle “Egg” Williams’ blackwork Frankenstein’s Monster is clearly inspired by Boris Karloff’s rendition of the creature, with electrifying “It’s Alive!” text work. Jean Mognon’s colour realism piece shows The Dormouse from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as seen in the 2010 Tim Burton adaptation.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (6)

Ben Dunning & Khan Tattoo

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

You’ve got to love a book that makes you think – and these two novels certainly do that! Ben Dunning used his fine art approach in creating a double exposure image of Alex from A Clockwork Orange in the style of Alexandre Cabanel’s The Fallen Angel painting. This 3D-looking tattoo by Khan Tattoo of Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is appropriately trippy for a story in which psychoactive substances are par for the course.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (8)

David Corden & Michael Taguet

“We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”

Some of our favourite books from the ‘90s also became our favourite films of the ‘90s and early 2000s. Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel American Psycho became the 2000 film of the same name, starring Christian Bale as serial killer Patrick Bateman – David Corden’s faithful colour realism really captures the manic glee as he kills. Chuck Palahniuk’s seminal novel Fight Club is brought to life in this full colour leg sleeve from Michael Taguet, featuring the main players as well as the iconic closing scene of the film (which controversially varies from the book!).

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (10)

Kurt Staudinger & Kevin McNamara

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever… And remember that it is for ever. The face will always be there to be stamped upon.”

2001: A Space Odyssey is an odd one, because the film isn’t an adaptation of the Arthur C Clarke novel – both were written at the same time, with the book actually being released after the film. This black and grey realism piece from Kurt Staudinger shows David Bowman, played by Keir Dullea in the film version, in the space suit that saves his life. Kevin McNamara from Dublin Ink took the spirit of George Orwell’s 1984 to create this unsettling blackwork piece featuring a security camera and Winston Smith.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (12)

Inal Bersekov & Anrijs Straume

“People who cease to believe in God or goodness altogether still believe in the devil... Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult.”

Anne Rice’s vampire novels changed the tone of vampire literature – we’ll argue later whether it’s for better or worse. Inal Bersekov created this black and grey realism piece showing an intimate moment between Louis and Claudia in the film version of Interview with the Vampire. Anrijs Straume took his usual dark trash realism approach to this portrait of Akasha, played by Aaliyah in The Queen of the Damned film adaptation.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (14)

Natasya Naboka & Tom Petucco

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

Entire lists could be made for books like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings which have inspired entire generations. Natasya Naboka composed this black and grey piece showing a very young Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, featuring Dumbledore and Hedwig in the Great Hall. One of the biggest fantasy trends of the 21st century came from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series – better known as Game of Thrones. Tom Petucco took inspiration from the series to create this pair oftattoos featuring the Targaryen and Stark sigils.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (16)

Dean Gunther & Nino Dinchev

“What a place! What a situation! What kind of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter.”

The Lord of the Rings tattoos frequently feature imagery from the films and TV series, but Dean Gunther adapted this illustration of Tom Bombadil from The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game – one of the most popular characters from the book that fails to appear in the film series entirely. Nino Dinchev took Paul Kidby’s illustration of Discworld – a Disc resting on the back of four elephants, which are resting on the back of the turtle Great A’Tuin as it swims through space – and rendered it in full colour on his client’s back.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (18)

Ralf Nonnweiler & Egon Weissberger

“What does he do, Clarice? What is the first and principal thing he does, what need does he serve by killing? He covets. How do we begin to covet? We begin by coveting what we see every day.”

When Ian Fleming created the character James Bond, he probably didn’t know that he’d go on to feature in 14 novels and 25 films – plus this black and grey portrait of a slightly older Sean Connery as Bond himself, made by Ralf Nonnweiler. Egon Weissberger took on another black and grey portrait showing Dr Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs imprisoned, with a death’s-head hawkmoth over his mouth and his means of escape shown below.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (20)

Duncan Whitfield & Federico Costantini

“I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.”

An autobiography is also a book – yes, we checked – which gives us the opportunity to include these excellent portrait pieces. Duncan Whitfield’s thoughtful black and grey portrait of Malcolm X, activist and author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, is a powerful statement. Federico Costantini created this portrait of Frederick Douglass completely freehanded – and you have to agree it’s a remarkable likeness of the author of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, among other important autobiographies.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (22)

Steve Butcher & Calvin Moktar

“You can never escape me. Bullets don’t harm me. Nothing harms me. But I know pain.”

Since we could make an entire list out of comic book tattoos (and may well still!), we’ve simplified things down to the big two: DC and Marvel. Steve Butcher’s fantastic colour realism portrait of a Venom-infected Spider-Manshows a darker side of the Marvel world, while Calvin Moktar made this Batman sleeve which is clearly inspired by both the comics and Batman: The Animated Series.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (24)

Cloto & Gaby Castel

“People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.”

These incredible graphic novels have both been adapted into TV series and films respectively, but these tattoos honour the graphic novels they come from. Cloto’s vibrant Sandman piece features this line about the merits of trying, on a background of Dream’s raven Matthew – or it might be Jessamy. Gaby Castel did this Tank Girl portrait but in her own neo-traditional geisha style, which makes it distinctive.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (26)

Mara Lemmert & Jairo Carmona

"Dreams breathe life into men and can cage them in suffering. Men live and die by their dreams, but long after they're abandoned, they still smoulder deep in men's hearts."

On to the manga selection for you now, and we’ve got some truly excellent offerings! Mara Lemmert from Tattoo Art Karlsruhe created this full colour comic panel-style image of Kaneda crying out for his friend with a back-view image of the protagonist’s pill-motif biker jacket. Jairo Carmona – who usually works with colour – worked on this black and grey Berserk piece showing a large image of Guts screaming with a smaller image of Guts with his implausibly huge sword.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (28)

Nick Limpens & Mauro de la Fuente

“My daughter sees men as little more than adornments. Her only real interest is in herself. She wants to be desired, to see how far she can lean men. Is not that she wants their love. Just a boost to her ego. That's all she cares about.”

While Akira and Berserk are both very well known mangas with huge adaptations, these books are a little newer and a little less known! Nick Limpens is the expert at anime tattoos, but we loved this Jujutsu Kaisen palm tattoo that looks just like Yuji Itadori’s hand when it’s possessed by the sorcerer Sukuna. Mauro de la Fuente from Legendary Tattoo Studio created a very clever double exposure of Junji Ito’s eponymous Tomie which serves to highlight her freakish nature.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (30)

Rodrigo Kalaka & Duda Lozano

“Show me a good mouser and I'll show you a cat with bad breath."

Comics are books too – so sayeth us. This patch-style piece from Duda Lozano is emblematic of his unique style, showing Snoopy and Woodstock from Peanuts chilling on their doghouse, but with a slight gay pride twist! Rodrigo Kalaka brought everyone’s internet nightmares of Garfield to life with this bizarre contortion of the lasagne-loving cat into a demonic face.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (32)

Jonathan McKenzie & Matt Daniels

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Whether you still read kids’ books or just have fond memories of them, many of us have children’s stories close to our hearts. Jonathan McKenzie made this incredibly delicate script work tattoo with Dr Seuss’ book title Oh, the Places You’ll Go! marked on the inner arm, while Matt Daniels worked a neo-traditional flower design into a book being read by everyone’s favourite rabbit, Miffy.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (34)

Isobel Morton & Tiggy

“If I lose I’ll stay here with you forever and I’ll let you love me. I’ll be a most dutiful daughter. I’ll eat your food and play Happy Families. And I’ll let you sew your buttons into my eyes.”

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is just about suitable for children, and we loved how Isobel Morton captured the utter creepiness of the Coraline doll in this colourful piece – she’s even clutching the protective stone given to her by Forcible and Spink. Tiggy’s tattoo features the Tigger, Eeyore and Lumpy the Heffalump from Winnie-the-Pooh, having a wholesome hug.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (36)

Rossie de Medici & BLACK STAB

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”

Sometimes we want to give a little love to the authors of our favourite works! Edgar Allan Poe might be one of the most recognisable authors of all time – artists love working with that big forehead and tiny moustache, and Rossie de Medici’s black and grey portrait of the man almost looks like a marble sculpture! BLACK STAB took on this sketch-style portrait of Charles Bukowski with a quote from his poem The Laughing Heart, which reads “You can’t beat death, but you can beat death in life, sometimes.”

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (38)

Joanne Baker & Goldsmith Tattooer

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.”

And finally, these tattoos aren’t dedicated to one book or author or genre – they’re just about the love of literature! Joanne Baker’s piece features storybook lettering reading Once Upon A Time in front of a starry, watercolour background, while Goldsmith Tattooer ensured this client always has a book in their hands, with solid blackwork and lettering across the fingers.

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Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (40)

We hope you’ve enjoyed this book-themed tattoo collection – and if you haven’t, why not write about it? Keep an eye out on Instagram and Facebook for our next blog of themed tattoos!

Novel Tattoo Ideas - Best Book-Inspired Tattoos (2024)
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