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If you don’t have tattoos yourself or are unfamiliar with the art, biker tattoos may spring foremost to mind when you think of tattooing. These bold, striking, rebellious designs are a symbol of the open road, and of the segment of society that enjoys it the most.
Biker tattoos are occasionally associated with underworld or prison tattooing – strictly against the rules, and done with handmade equipment and improvised inks. ‘Motorcycle gangs’ and the prison population do intersect, of course, but to a lesser degree than you might think. Many weekend bikers hold down conventional, even straight-laced jobs, and get their tattoos from a legitimate tattoo parlour or shop. The striking designs associated with biker tattoos are what they all share in common.
Biker Tattoo Designs
You know them when you see them, but what are the essential elements of biker tattoo designs? For one thing, you see loyalty to a certain type of bike – more than likely, Harley Davidson. Many biker tattoos feature the Harley Davidson name or logo, sometimes on its own, and sometimes as part of an intricate design. Picture an eagle perched on top of a ‘Harley Davidson’ banner, or epithet like ‘Ride Free’.
Biker tattoos vary greatly with regard to how much skin they cover, but generally speaking they are not small! A biker tattoo might be centred on a bicep or forearm, or the whole arm might be covered with a ‘sleeve’ of interlaced tattoo designs. Most biker tattoos are on the arm (motorcycle gear usually covers everything else) but that doesn’t mean they are limited to the arm – it’s not uncommon to see a biker sporting a ‘body shirt’ or sleeve that covers a large portion of his – or her – torso. What you probably won’t see are isolated tattoos on the shoulder or ankle.
In a sense, how many tattoos a biker has does indicate how committed he is to the lifestyle. Weekend bikers might have one or two, but a sleeve or body shirt of biker tattoos reveals a more hard-core commitment.
Getting a Biker Tattoo
Biker tattoos are for bikers. Generally speaking, if you’re not part of that particular subculture, you shouldn’t get a biker tattoo. A certain respect for the authenticity of the biker lifestyle is called for. An exception might be if you have a close personal relationship or affiliation with someone who is part of the lifestyle – if it’s meaningful to you on a personal level. In short, biker tattoos are not just any tattoo design – they have a strong and specific significance and affiliation with a still vital lifestyle.
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