Across the world, fantastic stories of krakens, mermaids, selkies and sirens have inspired artists to bring this ocean mythology to life.
From Walter Crane’s pre-Raphaelite masterpiece ‘Horses of Neptune’ to Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s terrifying depiction of the ghostly ‘Umibōzu’ looming from the sea, there are an abundance of saltwater-dwelling beasts depicted in the arts.
Naturally, our curiosity for deep-sea adventure extends to tattooing, too. Traditional Japanese bodysuits portray ‘ningyo’ – Japanese mermaids – surrounded by cascading sumi-shaded waves whilst the earliest Western-traditional flash was often informed by the anecdotes of sailors. Nowadays, our design options are unlimited yet our fascination with creatures of the ocean is as compelling as ever.
In celebration of our upcoming exhibition with Sea Shepherd, we take a look at some of the most intriguing and enduring legends brought to life on skin.
A mermaid portrait by Valerie Vargas, Modern Classic Tattoo – London, UK
A series of mermaids – and mermen – in various styles, by Suflanda, Susa’s Klubhaus – Manchester, UK
A musical mermaid by Makkala Rose – Love Craft Atelier, Christchurch, NZ
Dragons and masks appearing in the waves – by Vlady, Positive Vibrations – Italy
A biomechanical octopus by Steve Byrne, Rock of Ages – Austin, Texas
A pair of detailed mermaid tattoos by Miss Juliet, Kings Avenue Tattoo – NYC
A fearsome mermaid by Peter Lagergren, Malmö Classic Tattoo – Sweden
Traditional Japanese ‘ningyo’ backpieces by Diego Azaldegui, Private Studio – Argentina/Leeds, UK
Modern mythology – sea creatures by Otto D’Ambra, The White Elephant Tattoo – London, UK
Traditional sailor-style mermaid tattoo by El Bara, True Love Tattoo – Madrid, Spain
Two mythological creatures tattooed by Theo Mindell, Spider Murphy’s Tattoo – CA, USA