Skulls are one of the most prominent tattoo elements of all time. But if these are too morbid or scary for your taste, you’ll want to try out some sugar skull tattoo designs. These are colorful, vibrant, and sometimes a little comical. Yet these are meaningful tattoos that is a big part of the Mexican culture.
Sugar skulls are not just some pretty design. These are known as symbols of humanity’s mortality but portrayed in a positive way with a positive vibe. It’s also an integral part of the Mexican holiday known as Dias de Muertos or Day of the Dead.
During this celebration, Mexicans would gather on the cemetery to visit their loved ones who passed away. They would celebrate their lives and they believe that the souls of their families would return to the land of the living to celebrate with them. People also bring foods and beverages and hope that their lost relative would visit them and hear their prayers and comments.
History of the Sugar Skull Tattoo
- 1 History of the Sugar Skull Tattoo
- 2 Meaning of Sugar Skull Tattoos
- 3 How to Design your Sugar Skull Tattoo
- 4 Types of Sugar Skull Tattoo Designs
- 5 Ideal Placement for your Body Art
- 6 Tips in Getting a Tattoo
Apparently, the use of sugar art and sugar skulls came has been dated back since the 12th century. Nonetheless, the symbolism of the skulls, including these decorated skulls during the Day of the Date is long. It is believed to have existed since the ancient Aztec times. Back then, skulls of the deceased are known as powerful objects filled with energy of the souls. They are used to conjure the spirit of the dead, calling them from the Land of the Dead, to visit the land of the living.
But why are they known as “sugar skulls?” The authentic ones are actually made from sugar. They are molded into skulls and then are ornately decorated. They would then emblazon the name of the deceased person and would put it on their gravestone.
Now, sugar skull tattoo designs are very trendy. They are created with various bold colors and amazing designs. However, it is considered taboo to copy someone else’s design. If you are going for a sugar skull tattoo, you should create one with unique patterns.
Meaning of Sugar Skull Tattoos
Just like any tattoo, a sugar skull design can have a different meaning than its usual given one.
Generally, the sugar skull tattoo is much like its simpler counterpart. It means life and death; humanity’s mortality; the cycle of life. But since sugar skull has become an essential symbol of the Day of the Dead, it has become more of a commemoration of a dead loved one.
If you are indeed creating a design based on the latter meaning, the name of your dead loved one should be etched on the skull’s forehead. The design should also be bigger so that you can show off the designs. This is a way of honoring the dead and their life.
Instead of showing fear of death, a sugar skull represents your acceptance of it. Instead of being afraid, it is more about celebrating the life you’ve had and moving on to the next life.
Some also see the decorated skull as a symbol of rebellion. They like and are liked by people who stand out from the crowd.
How to Design your Sugar Skull Tattoo
You can design your sugar skull tattoo anyway you actually like. However, you can gain inspiration for real sugar skulls that are filled with big smiles, glitters, colorful trinkets, and sparkles.
For your tattoo, you can use various symbols and elements such as flowers, butterflies, shapes, and patterns. You can even have a theme such as a garden, a festival, the seasons and many more. The colors often used for these designs are also bold and vibrant. Since it was mainly used for festivals, the colors are vivid and bright. This is to create that positive vibe.
The size and shape of your skull as well as how it is depicted also depends on you. You can create one or two or even more sugar skulls for your tattoo design. You can make it big or small or perhaps facing sideways or up front. Your imagination is the limit. But then again, remember that is is considered taboo to copy anyone’s designs.
Types of Sugar Skull Tattoo Designs
All sugar skull designs have one thing in common: sophisticated designs and patterns.
Still, some of these designs have various themes and though vague, we can classify them into various types. These are based on the most popular sugar skull designs trending these days.
Bright and colorful designs
These are perhaps the most popular type of all. Sugar skulls are usually depicted as brightly colored designs. They can differ in patterns and designs but the colors range from the darkest shades to the loudest ones. You don’t have to worry about whether pink goes with violet or green. You can do anything you like with the color so long as you feel like it best represents you or the spirit of your loved one.
Rose and skull designs
Roses and skulls are pretty popular designs even if you choose a typical skull tattoo or a sugar skull one. You can either have it growing from the eye sockets or as design of the sugar skull itself. Many others choose to decorate the skulls in a simpler manner with just at least four colors. Then they accompany the design with a background filled with roses.
There is definitely something good that comes out of a skull and rose combination. Perhaps its versatility and that both men and women can have it that makes it a great design.
Sugar skull and flower designs
Besides roses, there are other flowers that are often used with sugar skull tattoos. One of these is the marigold. This is a traditional flower in Mexican culture. Marigolds are paired with the sugar skull as it is also a symbol and a way of honoring the dead. Apart from that, its vibrant yellow color also goes well with the concept of sugar skulls.
Other kinds of flowers are also welcome. It could be a simple flower drawing or you can try and recreate a beautiful floral pattern on the skull. You can also try for a lotus flower if you are a follower of Buddhism. The pink flower is much more effective as it is the symbol of Buddha himself.
Sugar skull and other imageries
Sugar skull tattoos are also often paired with various imagery. Sometimes, the imagery is alongside the sugar skull instead of a part of its design. You can also include these elements on the design itself.
A popular element that goes along the skull is the owl. Owls represent foresight and intellect. In some way, it could mean that you know that death comes and you accept it. Or that you are well aware of change and wanting to stand out and you pretty much acknowledge this as a fact.
If you want an element that can be part of the design, you can check out simple symbols. Apart from flowers, you can also choose butterflies. Mandalas as your design looks great as well. Diamonds are also in and can signify wealth and luxury.
Traditional sugar skull tattoos
Traditional sugar skull tattoos are more toned down and have more patterns than modern styles. They are also usually made for men and so the vibe is a little darker than usual; though a lot more playful and positive than a traditional skull design.
However, some men prefer a black and white tattoo. While the sugar skull is still decorated, it does not show any color other than black and white.
Watercolor sugar skull
Instead of using vivid and bright colors, watercolor tattoos often use lighter shades. These are the colors you’ll get when you use a watercolor on canvas or on paper. That being said, your design might be lighter than usual. Still, you can use lighter colors to recreate a fun and positive vibe.
Ideal Placement for your Body Art
Placement is everything when it comes to tattoos. You have to choose a certain place where your design would look the best.
For sugar skull designs, the best placement is somewhere wide enough for an average or even bigger tattoo. You’d need a lot of space so that your work is clearer and the designs are showcased. For this, you might want to have it on your back, chest, thighs, legs, or your biceps for a sleeve tattoo.
The wrist and the inner elbow would also work on smaller and simpler designs. You can also have it on your feet.
For the back, tattoo enthusiasts often have it on the upper part. It’s easier to showcase than the middle or the lower parts of the back. It’s also closer to the shoulders so the imagery could be seen clearly when you’re wearing some sleeveless clothes. The same goes when you decide to have it on your chest.
When you want to have it on the lower part of your body, the thigh is pretty much the best area where you can get more space. This is perfect for large tattoos. The legs also work but most people have it on the back area or the side.
Choosing a spot based on your pain tolerance
Everyone has a different level of pain tolerance. Some can go through a whole tattoo session and feel almost nothing. Others are in extreme pain even with just the outlining. You ought to choose the design and the placement based on this.
Bony areas are painful. These spots have thinner layer of skin and muscle and closer to the bones making it rather stingy and a “vibrating” kind of pain. Those with less skin and sensitive areas are known as the most painful places to get these tattoos. Such areas can be different for each person but these places are likely the inner biceps and inner thighs.
When it comes to the design, you’ll want a simpler one when getting a tattoo for the first time. This can help you gauge your pain tolerance level. There are simpler sugar skull tattoo designs you can choose for this.
If you can tolerate pain much better, then you can go for the most sophisticated and complicated designs. It will take hours and even a few sessions to finish.
Tips in Getting a Tattoo
It is normal to get anxious when getting a tattoo. To lessen that, you can always talk to your family or friends or even to your tattoo artist about the experience. Knowing what will happen can help you get ready for whatever may come.
But apart from preparing mentally, you also have to prepare physically. Your body needs proper rest, especially when getting a big and sophisticated tattoo. It will take time for your body to heal and most of all, for your body to endure pain for a while. That is why you should get plenty of rest before your scheduled tattoo session. You’ll also want to eat more healthy and drink lots of fluids. Generally, you’ll want to strengthen your system.
Now, when it comes to the tattoo itself, the design and the placement are two essential things you should think of beforehand. You should already have the design of your sugar skull tattoo and know where you are placing it. If you are having problems with the design, you should go to your artist.
That is why finding a good artist is very important. No matter how good your design is, it will be impossible without a tattoo artist by your side. They can help when it comes to the design. You can browse through their portfolio for an inspiration or find one online. And they can also provide quality service with good results.
When it comes to finding an artist, you should also guarantee your safety. They should have clean equipment and a clean shop. Remember, your tattoo is a wound and it could get infected, risking its outcome and your health.