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Posted on Oct 16, 2017

Semi-Permanent Tattoos in the Entertainment Industry

Temporary tattoos are a lot of fun, but they can also come in handy at work, namely, if you’re an actor.  Products like ours have played an invaluable role in the entertainment industry.  They say a p...

Temporary tattoos are a lot of fun, but they can also come in handy at work, namely, if you’re an actor.  Products like ours have played an invaluable role in the entertainment industry.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and a tattoo can instantly give you a lot of information about a character.  In countless films and television shows, directors have turned to tattoos to deepen characterization.  In other instances, screenwriters have used tattoos as an integral part of the plot.  In most cases, actors do not want to sport the same tattoos as their characters, turning to semi-permanent tattoos to get the job done. Products like inkbox, which last for multiple days, are a great time (and money!) saver, cutting down on an actor’s time spent in the makeup chair rather than in front of the camera.  For a look at how semi-permanent tattoos have rocked the big and small screen, consider these examples:

1) Prison Break

This FOX television show premiered in 2005, and became a hit largely because of the main character’s full-body tattoo.  Wentworth Miller plays a man who gets himself sent to prison on purpose so that he can break his brother out.  His secret weapon?  Intricate tattoos all over his body that are actually blueprints to facilitate their escape.  As Miller explains in this video, the tattoos he wore for the role consisted of 20 to 25 decals that fit together like the pieces of a puzzle.  Application took about 4 to 5 hours each time!  The show was a huge hit, and even returned for an encore season this year, featuring a brand new set of temporary tattoos.  


2) Blindspot

This NBC show begins when a woman wakes up naked, covered in tattoos, with no idea who she is or how the tattoos got there.  She discovers that each tattoo represents a crime that must be solved, all of which unlock clues about her identity. Series star Jamie Alexander told EW that she rocks over 200 temporary tattoos in a process that takes three artists seven hours to apply.  Luckily, the tattoos last for a few days, so Alexander doesn’t have to go through the lengthy process every day on set.



3) Supernatural

The bad spirit-fighting brothers on The CW’s Supernatural have anti-possession tattoos on their chests that keep them safe from demonic possession. The design features an endless knot that magically generates this protection.


4) Orange is the New Black

This Netflix show follows the dramatic, emotional, poignant lives of female inmates at a prison in upstate New York. Many of the inmates/characters have tattoos. Alex Vause has lots of ink, most notably a giant rose next to a small pinup woman on her arm, a salt shaker on her back, and a tattoo that laments, “love is pain.”  Big Boo proudly wears a tattoo that spells “BUTCH” in classic tattoo font on her arm, while tough-as-nails survival expert Freida has an octopus tattooed on her neck.   





5) Divergent

Oscar-nominated production designer Andy Nicholson collaborated with director Neil Burger and makeup department head Brad Wilder to design tattoos for the characters of Divergent. They used temporary tattoos made from images printed on cellophane paper backed with acrylic adhesive.  On the left, Tobias (aka Four) has the symbols of the five factions of the film’s world tattooed on his back.  From top to bottom, these five factions represent the brave, the selfless, the honest, the intelligent, and the peaceful. To achieve Tobias’ full look, The New York Post reported that it took three people about three hours to apply 40 tattoos, working with numbered pieces the way you’d complete a puzzle. And on the right, heroine Tris has three ravens inked on her collarbone to honor her mother, father, and brother.



6) Dude, Where’s My Car?

The heroes (can we call them that?) of this comedy realize that they each got silly tattoos when they were drunk (#classic). The contrast between the dumb words they chose and the elegant, Celtic font of the tattoos hammer home the comedy.


7) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Captain Mike Clark shows off lots of torso tattoos in this film starring Brad Pitt.  Captain Mike favors Sailor Jerry designs, showcasing the influence that Sailor Jerry had on men who made their living on the sea.


8) The Place Beyond the Pines

According to BuzzFeed, Ryan Gosling wanted to set the record for most tattoos in movie history for his role in The Place Beyond the Pines.  He certainly tatted up, achieving the look of a “marked man” whose tattoos help identify him as a man who has made many bad, impulsive decisions.  His costume even included a face tattoo:  a dagger dripping with blood below his left eye.