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Funny Creatures and Life Lessons: Children’s Stories in Ink

Tesia Rhind tattoo, storybook tattoos, literary tattoos

If you have a favorite storybook from your childhood, you might consider paying homage to it with a tattoo. Whimsical, cute, and eccentric, children's books are known for their distinctive characters and important lessons about love, acceptance, and relationships. From sparkling fish to colorful caterpillars, much-loved storybook characters have taught us these lessons about human life.

It's these iconic characters and unique illustrative styles that make storybooks stick with their readers. With tattoos, lovers of these stories can carry classic artwork and much-loved characters with them forever. The tattoos below illustrate the artistic merit and valuable lessons held in children’s literature.


Winnie the Pooh tattoo by Klare Koa

Art is an integral part of children’s literature. Although artistic styles present in children’s literature range from whimsical watercolors to vibrant, glittered pages, the style of Winnie the Pooh perfectly displays the illustrative style common to early children’s literature. Originating in the 1920s, the story has been adapted into films and television shows, and the artistic style has evolved over the years. This tattoo captures the original 1920s version of Pooh Bear, before Disney smoothed over his sketchbook style.


Storybook tattoo by Tesia Rhind

The storybook style is incredibly detailed. Animals are realistic, and they make their homes in lush landscapes filled with larger-than-life flowers and spotted toadstools. While it is not an inked rendition of a specific children’s book, this tattoo takes artistic inspiration from the illustrations present in the books we loved as children.


The Rainbow Fish tattoo by Emma Holmes

The sketchbook style and whimsy natural landscapes are prevalent in the children’s stories of the early 1900s — Winnie the Pooh and The Tale of Peter Rabbit, for example. Fully colored illustrations didn’t enter the fray until later, when technological advancements made colorful books and glossy pages possible. As color entered the picture, storybook illustrators took their work a step further and began to play with textures. In The Rainbow Fish, color and texture are at the forefront. Though the color palette consists of primarily blue and green hues, the eponymous fish has scales made from glitter.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar tattoos, literary tattoos, storybook tattoos, Eric Carle tattoos, Sam Nancy tattoo

Much like The Rainbow Fish, Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar uses innovative textures to turn a simple premise into a unique adventure. Carle’s work has a distinct appearance, illustrated in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Rather than hand-drawing his illustrations like many other children’s book illustrators, his works are made up of patchwork hand-painted papers. He creates these collages to depict animals big and small from caterpillars to bears. In fact, Carle’s artistic style is so unique that it’s difficult to translate into tattoo form. The textures he creates for his own art work beautifully on paper, but they would be difficult for a tattoo artist to recreate. Sam Nancy captures the essence of Carle’s work nonetheless, using bold lines and heavy color packing in varied shades of green for the hungry, inked caterpillar.


Dr. Seuss's Lorax tattoo by Ian Hopkins

Few authors rival the immense impact that Dr. Seuss has left on the world. With bright colors, funny creatures, and a regular rhyme scheme, Dr. Seuss introduced important issues to young audiences. 

The Lorax is perhaps his best example of this. While it is undeniably political — urging readers to be aware of how their actions impact the world — it remains palatable for children with Dr. Seuss’s signature artistic and written style. The Lorax tells the story of a small orange creature who warns the reader about the dangers of the Once-Ler, a literary representation of industrial greed. When the eponymous Lorax disappears, unable to carry on due to a lack of natural resources, his final resting place is marked only with the word “unless” as this tattoo depicts. After much time, the Once-Ler learns what this final message means, “Unless someone like you who cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Children’s books are often their audience’s first introduction to important issues like those found in The Lorax. The impact of their lessons lasts long into adulthood, inspiring readers to live valuable lives inked with their favorite storybooks.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.