What is a Textoo?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2019
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A textoo is a tattoo which features text, rather than a graphic design. Numerous cultures all over the world have a tradition of making text tattoos, ranging from religious Buddhist tattoos in Tibet to paeans for departed loved ones in the United States. Many tattoo studios offer text tattoos, and some tattoo artists specialize in them, producing especially high quality work which will endure and be readable for decades.

The design and placement of a textoo requires some careful thought. Unlike a regular tattoo, which is readable even in fragments, a textoo tends to parse best when viewers can see the whole thing. This makes textoos poor candidates for arm and leg bands, and it makes some other placements challenging or inadvisable. Many tattoo artists also prefer to make textoos in large text, to ensure that the text will be readable even as the tattoo fades and shifts with time. It is also a good idea to design a textoo with symmetry in mind, thinking of the body as a page and creating a smooth, even image which is very readable.


A wide range of fonts can be used to make textoos, with some people even lettering their own in calligraphy. Generally a great deal of thought is put into the choice of font, with people considering things like aesthetics, durability, and letter spacing when they think about their options. A skilled tattoo artist may work with the desired text before meeting for a tattoo session, presenting several alternatives in a variety of fonts.

Textoos can be written in any language, with the content usually meaning something personal to the person who gets the tattoo. Many people chose to get quotes from famous works of literature or film, and some may choose a single word with great meaning. It is also not uncommon for people to get textoos in a language which is not their native language, paying homage to years abroad or extensive study of that language. Such a textoo should be undertaken with care, as language is extremely complex, and one does not want to end up with a meaningless or unintentionally funny or offensive tattoo.

Many people prefer to get a textoo in black ink, because black ink shows up well and remains crisp. It is also easy to touch up. It is also possible to use colored inks, although fading can become an issue, making the text hard or impossible to read. People may also choose to add ornaments such as dingbats to a textoo to make it more visually interesting.


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