Skeletons have long been associated with death; the appearance of the grim reaper is often modeled after a re-animated skeleton; the tarot death card, as well as gravestones often feature a skeletal figure attempting to snuff out a candle flame; and during Medieval and Renaissance times, skeletons were used in stained glass windows to remind people of their mortality. So with all of the darkness that surrounds this image, why do skeleton tattoos have any popularity?
To begin with, skeleton tattoos are still used today as not only a reminder of death, but a reminder to live. In this vein, many people show the walking skeleton in a variety of manners; riding a horse, atop a motorcycle (with bandana and leather jacket in place), and occasionally even dancing. These depictions are often thought to be macabre; however, the truth is that they can represent fun, danger, excitement and in some cases, even eccentricity.
Some skeleton tattoos show the bones for what they are — bones. Although not as animated as some, these images can have a startling effect. One example would be to place the full skeleton along the back, or stomach and give it the appearance of having been buried. In this design you could create small particles of sand, or tufts of grass being swept away from the partially covered bones. You could also create an interesting image of a face and body seeming to disappear, exposing the bones beneath.
On occasion, people prefer skeleton tattoos that use one specific part. The skull, of course, is one of the most popular; however, you can also occasionally see a skeletal hand holding an hourglass, mirror or book. In this style, you may also see examples of medical text tattoos. These skeleton tattoos may show only certain parts such as the mandible, femur, are vertebrae of the spine. These depictions often show old medical text from the 1800’s to early 1900’s, and usually name the specific skeletal sections. For a slightly more morbid touch, some like to add fractures or noticeable deformities to these skeletons.
Although having skeleton tattoos may seem rather unwholesome to some, those who decide on this style have usually come to peace with the idea of both life and death, or are searching to find enlightenment and a certain feeling of wholeness by communing with something a little darker than themselves.