Brittany and I have not finalized which insects will inhabit our final piece. We have talked a lot about this, particularly trying to think of how different insects will be perceived by general audiences and what impact that will have.
This week for the blog I decided to try to understand how people view insects via tattoo art. What I came up with is a trend that follows my perception of how folks generally perceive insects –distant from us and somewhat fantastical. So it was not surprising to find that, in contrast to the dolphin, cow, giraffe, wolf, bear and lion tattoos I checked out (which generally look like the standard animals they are modeled after), most insect tattoos are rendered with a good bit of artistic license and often transmogrified with gears, crystals, spikes, etc.
Apologies in advance for being unable to find attributions for all of the images, but here is a sampling of my insect tattoo journey.
I’ll start with the few I found that clearly worked to display insects as they are - a mayfly (wonder if the owner is a fly fisherperson?), a hawk moth, and then – joy to my entomological heart! - some that are actually labeled with both common and Latin names (with just a couple of small spelling errors -- Chrysochroa buqueti and Papilio eurilochus)
And the many artistic takes…
I have to say that this curly-antennaed cockroach is much cuter than the standard kind – though I would venture to bet that the owner was thinking she was getting a beetle. Panchlora is a genus of tropical/subtropical green roaches that is only found outdoors and so not considered a pest.
And finally, I’ll finish with Rick Genest, aka Zombie boy, who is a Canadian man who holds the world record for the most insect tattoos - 176. His aim is a celebration of the decomposition of a human corpse.
There is a cockroah-esque organism on the top of his head and then many arachnids on his torso (which are not decomposers nor technically insects, but I’m sure they are included in the overall count.)
Hard to tear your eyes away, no?
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Brittany Ransom is an award-winning artist, technologist, and assistant professor of Sculpture and New Genres at California State University, Long Beach.
Cara Gibson is a graphic designer, director of Science Communications, and Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson.