While not all tattoos need to have any deep meaning or poignant significance, tattoos can be a beautiful way to preserve a memory of a loved one or celebrate an object or phrase that is important to someone’s life.
The Internet is full of tattoo horror stories. And these stories are mostly of people who don’t think twice before asking the tattoo artist to permanently ink a quotation in a language they can’t understand. If not this, they will go on and get some embarrassing song lyrics inked on their body.
But hopefully, there are people who have got thoughtful and beautiful tattoo ideas with deep meaning. So, if you want to read someone’s “tattoo origin story”, go ahead and scroll down.
Recently, a Reddit user asked, “Tattoo artist of Reddit, what’s the most beautiful/saddest request you’ve ever gotten, or one that has stood out?” Here are some of the best answers.
Dude asked me to Tattoo his family on his back. His wife and 3 kids had died in a fire recently and I had to recreate their family photo on his back. It took a few hours and I was as meticulous as possible. Normally I would’ve charged him a load of money for this, but I didn’t have the heart to charge him. Boss was fine with it. – CongressPotatoKenobi
She had cancer. The treatment stopped working, so she got off chemo and decided to live out the last few weeks of her life seeing her favorite places and doing her favorite things. She had been a tattoo artist when she was younger, and hadn’t gotten any new pieces since she was diagnosed a few years prior.
I tattooed her. She got a black and grey sunflower with the outline of Minnesota, close to her chemo scars. It was her last tattoo. – Vextera
My husband has a tattoo for his previous fiancé who died of cancer at only 39 yrs old. It’s a woman going up a staircase and a clock at the time she died. I always thought it was a really sad, but touching memorial. – HotPink124
Simple but beautiful story.
Elderly man came in to the tattoo shop for his first tattoo. He wanted his wife’s name. While drawing it up for him – he explained his wife of 45 years had just passed away a month ago. He told me she never wanted him to have a tattoo but he was in the service and always wanted one – of her name – but he never got it because she wouldn’t let him.
He says “I don’t mean to be ornery or disrespect her wishes, I just need a piece of her with me until we’re together again.” – jgorbeytattoos
My best friend died a few years ago in a car accident. The very last conversation we ever had was a phone conversation of him telling me about his new tattoo. Obviously, he never got to show it to me, but his mom sent me a picture of it a few months later.
With her permission, I went and got the same tattoo a year and a half after his death. The kicker is, I lived a couple hours away from the artist who did my friend’s tattoo, so I went to her. It was so healing to get to talk to someone who had seen him, and now I have a great tattoo with a great story. – EliMac65
A woman came straight from her father’s funeral with his final will and testament and had me put his signature on her arm. She could hardly make out the words and we both cried the entire time. It was such a deep experience I couldn’t charge her. – areeemeeyet
I’m answering for my brother. He’s a talented tattoo artist with his own shop in Colorado.
When my first child was born (at 23 weeks super preemie), he was 13. He drew a gorgeous name tag for her incubator in the NICU based on her name: Emily Rose.
She passed away from pneumonia when she was 3 years old. Years later my brother have me a tattoo of a re-imagining of that name sign. All free hand and it is gorgeous.
His art welcomed his niece into the world and his art celebrated her life when she left it. – nightcrawler616
I tattooed a plus sign on a couple. The air was heavy but it wasn’t my place to ask why. Once we put the stencils on, they opened up.
They had just miscarried. She told me they were excited to bring life into this world, together. And their favorite moment of joy was when she took the pregnancy test and they waited together… for their overwhelmingly positive response: for the plus sign. – allentattoo
Not an artist, but I work the front desk dealing with clients and scheduling appointments. Last year we had a woman call in requesting to get the tattoo “Daddy’s Property” on her stomach just above her pubic area. We quoted her a randomly high price, thinking she’d pass, but she didn’t. She paid her deposit and showed up a few days later for her appointment.
We get her signed in and send her off with her artist. About 20 minutes later, she comes down with tears in her eyes, thanks us for our time and says she’ll call us back to schedule another appointment. A few minutes later the artist comes down and explains the whole situation to us.
Turns out she was in an abusive relationship and didn’t really realize it until she started talking to the artist. She explained that she already had one tattoo she got while she was in a different abusive relationship that she was in the process of getting lasered off.
He played therapist to her for 20 minutes, listening to her problems and helping her realize that she was about to make another permanent mistake she was going to regret.
She did call back about a month later, scheduled a consultation for an entirely new full leg sleeve and has been coming in every 2 months for the past year to get it worked on. He let a pocketful of cash walk out the door that afternoon, but made a client for life by not tattooing the design she came in to get. – thatgirl829
I managed a tattoo shop and we were about to close when a group of 6 well dressed people came in. I asked if they came from a wedding. Complete opposite, they were coming from a funeral. All of them got a paper plane tattoo. Most people this was their first tattoo. They kept getting calls and 8 more people came totaling almost 16 people getting tatted plus guests hanging out.
I had to ask artists to work over time and stay back but they all wanted to help this family and group of friends go through this tough time.
For privacy I won’t mention how the person they were paying tribute passed but the reason they got paper planes is because she looked exactly like M.I.A apparently and paper planes was their inside joke with her.
We let them take over the music for the shop and blast that song as loud as possible and to see sad broken people smiling and dancing and celebrating this persons life touched me. – demarderollins
one of my artist friends told me a story about a guy who came in that’d lost his first born at 6 years old to childhood lymphoma. The guy wanted to have a full body suit done of all the kids drawings, the drawings were terrible but he never wanted to forget them. – amalgamas
My brother passed a little over 10 years ago and one of his best friends is a tattoo artist. He used to be in the military and would write letters to us so we were able to get one of his favorite sayings in his own handwriting from piecing it all together. I also had him mix his ashes in with the ink. My brothers buddy broke down immediately when I opened the urn I have for him, needless to say he had to take a little break before he started. – sanford8645
Just yesterday I had an old lady cry when I finished her tattoo. She had a letter from her mom that she found while moving. Her mom had passed about 10 years ago and I tattooed a part of it on her arm. Nothing extravagant or anything on my part, I just traced someone’s writing, but it made the entire fucking world to her. I brightened someone’s day by doing something I used to get in trouble for as a kid. – hazard0666
A snake that was shedding its skin but still having it on, because the person lost a lot of weight and could not get rid of his excess skin. He thinks of himself as a dysfunctional snake. – 2bierlaengenabstand
I tattooed a portrait of a baby on a young women. During the tattoo she told me it was a picture of her baby that died shortly after she gave birth. 20yrs of pro tattooing and nothing has been as sad. – tatoutkast
One that was really touching for me was a girl whose dad had passed away. She brought in the last note he had written to her and I tattooed the “love you” sign off on her. I’ll always remember that one. – shivurs