Plague Doctor Tattoos:

Plague doctors are commonly associated with the 14th Century epidemic, though there is no historical evidence to suggest that the grotesque healers had yet come into play.

Black and grey plague doctor and rose done by Luke Wasser at Sink or Swim Tattoos, Aurora.

Neo traditional smoking doctor and coffin done by Michela Zanni at Skin Cake Tattoo.

The believed inventor of the plague doctor uniform is Charles de l’Orme, the chief physician to Louis VIII. He created it in 1619, and it was used for over 100 years. The terrifying suit was made to look like a bird, with a long leather beak, thick goggles, a black leather coat over top a lighter leather shirt, black goat skin boots, leather gloves, and a black top hat also made of leather to indicate that the wearer was a doctor.

Muted colours in a neo traditional style done by Anderson Escaleira at Maza Tattoo.

Black work doctor with a candle done by Nate Kemr.

Plague doctors would stuff the end of the beak with herbs and spices such as mint, cloves, garlic, and myrrh to battle the noxious smells coming from the plague victims. Sometimes these herbs were set aflame so that the smoke would also protect the doctor. The smoke would then trickle out of the beak, making the doctor appear even more demonic and reaper-like.

American traditional doctor and flower done by Charlotte Louise at Lucky Cat Tattoo Parlour in Glasgow.

American traditional doctor and “memento more” done by Nicholas Chaney at Electric Chair Tattoo in South Wales.

Along with the uniform, many plague doctors would carry a long staff used for examining patients, as well as beating back some of the more aggressive ones. Some patients also believed they had been given the plague by God as some sort of punishment, and thus would occasionally ask the doctor to beat them with their canes as a form of repentance.

Gorgeous neo traditional half sleeve done by Francesco Garbuggino.

Hyper realistic doctor and cemetery done by Paul Vaughan at Rendition Tattoo Studio.

This suit was created because it was believed that the bubonic plague was spread through “foul air”, though in fact we now know that the plague was really spread through sharing bodily fluids, as well as pests such as rats and fleas.

Great contrast in the dark browns and blacks and red flowers. Done by Friedrich Uber.

Gruesome black and grey plague sleeve done by Róbert A Borbás.

The suit would have helped to protect the wearer from the plague to some degree, but not enough to stop the doctors from contracting the deadly sickness. This was in part due to air holes at the end of the beak, where bodily fluids such as blood and pus would enter when the doctor would perform bloodletting and lancing on the unfortunate victims (bursting the large pus-filled cysts).

American traditional plague doctor done by Gordie at Rebel Waltz Tattoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

American traditional style smoking doctor and rat done by Shawn Beatty at Soul Survivor Body Art in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Because the majority of these doctors were inexperienced or even completely unqualified, the treatments were often cruel and unusual, performed with no scientific or medical reasoning. Treatments included the fore mentioned bloodletting and lancing, covering the open and festering cysts with human excrement, and even pouring hot mercury on the cysts and then putting the patient into a large oven to burn the cysts off. These methods often just accelerated an already painful death.

Realistic black and grey doctor done by Jordan Croke at Second Skin Tattoo in Derby, UK.

Trash polka style doctor done in black and red by Thorant at The Scarlett Tattoo Studio in Bedford UK.

As a tattoo, plague doctors are often done in a heavy black work style (due to the nature of the uniform). They are also popular in realism, American traditional, neo traditional, and black and grey.

Horrifying black work bird/doctor done by Merry Morgan at Northgate Tattoo in Bath, Somerset.

Colourful neo traditional piece done by Tim Stafford Violet Crown Tattoo in Austin Texas.

Which morbid piece is your favourite?

Raven Tattoos

Ravens make for a bold tattoo. They are often linked to death and mystic symbolism in more ancient literature and folklore.

Alessandro Micci
Raven and Japanese hannya mask done by Alessandro Micci.
Cedric Weber
Neo traditional raven and hand by Cedric Weber.
Hans Heggum
stomach raven done by Hans Heggum.
Pari Corbitt
Dark chest raven done by Pari Corbitt.
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Edgar Allan Poe and raven done by Debora Cherrys.

Many cultures believed that the raven had magical qualities including knowing the answers to powerful secrets.

Akos
Neo traditional raven paired with a tiger and a skull. Done by Akos at Adorned Empire.
Bryan Nirvana Tattoo Studio in Glasgow, Scotland
Treehouse of horror Bart Simpson raven done by Bryan at Nirvana Tattoo Studio in Glasgow, Scotland.
Heath Clifford
Two headed raven done by Heath Clifford.
Mitchell Allenden
Raven in a noose done by Mitchell Allenden.

Ravens can also be associated with wisdom and intelligence as they are extremely smart birds, capable of even mimicking human voices.

Andre Cast
Head raven done by Andre Cast.
David Le Goon
Raven paired with bright flowers done by David Le Goon.
Jason James Smith
Raven with geometric border done by Jason James Smith.
Oshin Timoshin
More delicate dotwork raven and flowers done by Oshin Timoshin.

Ravens can be a symbol of protection, pagan magic, the future, secrets, an omen of death, light/shadow, war, intelligence, and pain.

Andrew Borisuk
Huge torso raven done by Andrew Borisuk.
Dino Nemec
Black and white ravens done by Dino Nemec.
Laura Yahna
Heavy blackwork and pagan raven done by Laura Yahna.
Robert Borbas
Bold mastectomy coverup raven done by Robert Borbas.

Mythologies and religions associated with the raven include Norse, Greek, Roman, Native American, Celtic, Muslim, Christian, and Pagan.

Canijo Marciano
Heavy blackwork and stylized raven done by Canijo Marciano.
Dmitriy Tkach
Sketchwork raven done by Dmitriy Tkach.
Mariñe Perez.
Native American styled raven done by Mariñe Perez.
Scott Move
Raven head done by Scott Move.

As a tattoo, ravens are often done as blackwork pieces, neo traditional, or realistically. They can also be designed with a third eye.

Bruno Santos
Two headed raven done by Bruno Santos.
Drew Shallis
Raven and peaches paired with a red sun done by Drew Shallis.
Mark Halbstark
Horror raven done by Mark Halbstark.
Susanne Konig
Raven with moonlit design within done by Susanne Konig.

Which is your favourite?

The Lord of the Rings Tattoos:

The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R Tolkien is one of (if not the) most iconic fantasy stories ever written. The story was written as a sequel to another novel of his, The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings was written in stages between 1937 and 1949.

Jesse Rix
Magnificent realistic back piece featuring Gandalf, Gollum, the ring, and the eye of Sauron. Done by Jesse Rix in Keene, NH.
Ben Kaye Tattooer & part owner of Ship Shape tattoo, New Zealand
Hyper realistic portrait of Gimli done by Ben Kaye at Ship Shape Tattoo in New Zealand.
Heath Clifford
Solid neo traditional hobbit hole done by Heath Clifford at Fat Ink Tattoo.
Kristian Kimonides Tattooist | Leviathan Tattoo Gallery | Melbourne | Australia
Elrond portrait done by Kristian Kimonides at Leviathan Tattoo Gallery in Melbourne, Australia.
Onnie O'Leary
American traditional Witch King done by Onnie O’Leary.

Tolkien fought in WW1, and this was extremely influential in his shaping of Middle Earth. As an example, WW1 was fought not by heroes, but by civilians. This reflects the hobbits who are quite literally the “little people”, who then step up to fight a war that they had not asked to be a part of.

Fong Vang Tattoo Artist @Inkarnate Tattoos 2211 11th ave E, #120, north Saint Paul, Mn
Black and grey portrait of Aragorn, featuring Gimli and Legolas. Done by Fong Vang at Inkarnate Tattoos in North Saint Paul, Mn.
Carles Bonafe
Terrifying portrait of Gollum and his precious. Done by Carles Bonafe.
Iliya Astafiev Tattoo Artist. N.Chelny city, Russia
Terrifying and realistic portrait of a nazgul. Done by Iliya Astafiev Chelny city, Russia.
Lauren Gibler Tattooer & Permanent makeup artist at Inkeeper_s in canton OH
Broken shards of Narsil. Done by Lauren Gibler done in Canton OH.
Róbert A Borbás
Graphic black and grey sleeve featuring Gandalf fighting the balrog on the bridge of Kazan Dum. Done by Róbert A Borbás done at Rooklet Ink, Hungary.

The films were directed by Peter Jackson, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. They were filmed back to back on location in New Zealand, making for fantastic landscapes and scenery.

Alex Rattray Owner:Artist at Empire Ink EDINBURGH
Hyper realistic colour portraits of Sam, Frodo, and the ring. Done by Alex Rattray at Empire Ink in Edinburgh.
Cody Young Emerald Tattoo
A very green ent done by Cody Young at Emerald Tattoo.
Izhar Rott Owner of Manifacto Amsterdam Tattoos
Black and grey Gandalf amidst a geometric background done by Izhar Rott Owner of Manifacto Amsterdam Tattoos.
Lauren Melina
Blackwork Barad Dur (dark tower) done by Lauren Melina done in Perth, Australia.
Samantha I Love Mom Tattoo Studio in Dovercourt Village, Toronto
There and back again, inspiration taken from The Hobbit book cover. Done by Samantha at I love Mom Tattoo Studio in Dovercourt Village, Toronto.

Some of the most popular characters include Gandalf, Frodo, Gimli, Legolas, Gollum (Smeagol), Sam, Aragorn, Elrond, Saruman, Witch king, and Sauron. Fantastic creatures include the ents, the balrog, and the nazgul. Popular items include the swords sting, and the shards of Narsil, as well as the Witch King’s flail, and quaint hobbit holes. Of course we also can’t forget the ring itself, which makes a stellar tattoo, especially when paired with a portrait.

Alexandra Skarsgård
Sting and flowers done by Alexandra Skarsgård in London.
Dan Mawdsley Pop Culture Tattoos in Melbourne✖️The Black Mark Tattoo Northcote
Black and grey Gandalf portrait done by Dan Mawdsley at Pop Culture Tattoos in Melbourne, Australia.
Jerome Chapman
Linework version of an ent. Done by Jerome Chapman.
Maksims Zotovs
Hyper realistic Gollum done by Maksims Zotovs.
Tony Sklepic Pop culture inspired tattoos and artwork. EDMONTON ALBERTA
Hyper realistic matching portraits of Saruman (and the eye of Sauron) and Gandalf. Done by Tony Sklepic done in Edmonton, Alberta.

Lord of the Rings tattoos are often done in a photo realistic or hyper realistic style, as well as black and grey, dotwork, linework, American traditional, and neo traditional.

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Black and grey Legolas done by Khail Tattooer at Young bloods Tattoo in Perth, Australia.
Dave Swambo
Witch King hand and Morgul blade done by Dave Swambo at Stronghold Tattoo in Cardiff, Wales.
Jess White
Bright and bold hobbit hole done by Jess White in Sacramento, CA.
Nick imms Fumbling through life. Owner of @thechurchtattoo ☦️
Gorgeous portrait of Frodo and the ring done by Nick Imms at the Church Tattoo.
Travis Stanley Ink City Tattoo Bonney Lake, WA Capitol City
American traditional Witch King and flail. Done by Travis Stanley at Ink City Tattoo in Bonney Lake, WA Capitol City.

Which do you prefer, the books, or the films?

Devil Tattoos

Devil tattoos are one of the classics in tattoo history. Devil doesn’t always refer to a red man with horns, it can also be just a symbol of evil. Having a symbol like this on your body can mean protection from demons/the devil by scaring them away. It can show a mischievous side of you, or a rebellious attitude. Sometimes they can be portrayed with an angel counterpart, or a woman, generally symbolizing the balance between good and evil.

Here are some of the best devil tattoo designs. They come in all kinds of styles, from American traditional, to neo-traditional, new school, black and grey, watercolour, realism, and experimental. Whatever the style, a devil tattoo is bold “as hell”.

Alena Chun knee cap
American traditional knee blaster by Alena Chun at Icon Tattoo Studio.
Adrian Edek
Intense full head piece by Adrien Edek at Lowbrow Tattoo Parlour. Those yellow eyes stand out wonderfully from the red, black and white space.
Dustin Barnhart Kitchener, Ontario
Another head piece, only for the toughest clients, these have got to hurt! Done by Dustin Barnhart from Kitchener Ontario at Berlin Tattoo. Another great example of a mischievous looking American Traditional devil.
Franz Stefanik Toronto
Franz Stefanik, helping represent Canadian artists, from Toronto at The Okey Doke Tattoo Shop. Juxtaposing life and death in this stomach piece. Ink right in the belly button must have been fun.
Gordon Combs
This piece has a definite Greek mythological feel to it. Done by Gordon Combs at Art Work Rebels.
Heath Clifford
Fantastic Neo Traditional, black and grey piece done by Heath Clifford at Throne Room Tattoo.
James Armstrong
More black and grey in this wonderfully inventive leg piece, done by the talented James Armstrong at Holy Mountain Tattoo.
Jon Larson - Ypsilanti Michigan
Huge devil and burning church done by Jon Larson from Ypsilanti Michigan at Depot Town Tattoo. Great use of the devil’s fur turning into the flames!
Paulina Szoloch
Interesting water colour, experimental piece by Paulina Szoloch.
Phil Hatchet-Yau - San Diego California
Palm pieces are tricky as they tend to fade quickly. This one looks like it isn’t going anywhere though. Done by Phil Hatchet-Yau from San Diego, California at Felix’s Master Tattoo and Museum.
Robert Borbas
Brilliant realistic black and grey leg sleeve done by Robert Borbas at Rooklet Ink in Hungary. Some seriously intense detail in this piece.
Sergey Vaskevich
Another stomach piece, done by Sergey Vaskevich. The muted tones in this fit the theme perfectly. Nothing too overpowering in this.
Thomas Flanagan - Leeds
Neat matching hand pieces done by Thomas Flanagan out of Leeds, at Oddfellows Tattoo Collective. Quite a bit of detail for such a small space.

Share your own devil tattoo’s in the comments!