Jack the Ripper Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Jack the Ripper Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

The man and the myth known as the ‘Ripper of Whitechapel’ is one of the more famous boogeymen whose tale is told to this very day. As skin art is deeply personal, it’s no surprise that this notorious figure sometimes makes an appearance there, and today we’ll tell you a little more about Jack the Ripper tattoos.

While he was never caught, this frightening figure sparks speculation to his very day, so read on to learn a little bit more about the Ripper and his latest haunt on the streets of cunningly-inked skin around the world!


Who is Jack the Ripper?

The infamous ‘Jack the Ripper’ was never unmasked, though a number of theories circulated around his identity. We’re not even sure how many victims he truly claimed. While 5 were identified many believe that there were more, and as he was never caught and it happened so long ago, we may never truly know.

That didn’t stop people from speculating, and suspects included Montague Druitt, who was both a teacher and a lawyer, as well as a man who was fascinated with surgery.

Then there was Michael Ostrog, an actual physician and a criminal to boot, and finally there was Aaron Kosmininski – a Polish immigrant who simply lived in Whitechapel and looked rather like the descriptions of the East-London butcher that was preying on the local prostitutes.

Most believed that he was targeting them as a form of revenge, perhaps for a health condition that he developed after spending time with one of these ladies of ill-repute, but the identity and motives of Jack the Ripper remain a mystery that is well-known and repeated around the world to this very day.


What is the History of Jack the Ripper Tattoos?

The Ripper murders occurred during the relatively short period of August and November in 1888. These happened in an East London area called Whitechapel, which is still around and considered a district of East London since it split off from Stepney-Middlesex parish in the 14th century.

Early newspaper clippings are still around, both in museums and often even on eBay, to be viewed or snapped-up by collectors of this grisly memorabilia. The Whitechapel murders are the stuff of legend and while the serial killers of today have an arguably higher body count, the fascination with the Ripper nonetheless persists.

Even his victims are well known enough that they’ve made appearances in Jack the Ripper tattoos. In the order that the Ripper took them, their names were Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly.

All were dispatched with surgical cutting precision, adding to the mystery, and the fear that gripped London was immense enough that this mystery figure still fascinates us today. It’s hardly surprising that the Ripper has made appearances in skin art and the legend lives on!


What Do Jack the Ripper Tattoos Symbolize?

Jack the Ripper tattoos can symbolize different things.

Arguably, it could represent a certain amount of misogyny, but more often rather than being symbolic, it’s simply a matter of being a fan of the legend and the scary tale of the Ripper of Whitechapel.

It could also symbolize brutal cunning and broadly the ‘monster in broad daylight’ mentality, though for most he’s just a mysterious and frightening figure that haunted London and has fascinated people across the world for well over a century.


What Do Jack the Ripper Tattoos Mean?

Jack the Ripper tattoos, like any other design, can mean a lot of things or nothing.

Sometimes they are chosen for their shock value, for instance, with one design we’ve seen showing a set of wicked eyes peering over a newspaper captioning ‘The Ripper Strikes again’.

That said, it could mean that the owner considers themselves deadly, highly intelligent, and surgically precise in all of the things that they do, though more often the Ripper is tattooed for the simple reason that he is considered a legend in the world of serial killers.

It’s understandable, after all, when you really think about it. Not all skin art is going to be flowers, cartoonish figures, or memorials to people we love. Some tattoos are simply DARK and remind us that art is not a thing that you can tame – it’s all about what moves us, makes us think, and makes us respond.

We should also mention, if you actually happen to be from Whitechapel, then a Jack the Ripper tattoo is definitely a fun way to share that fact with the rest of us!


Where Do Jack the Ripper Tattoos Usually Go?

In most cases, Jack the Ripper tattoos end up on the arm or on the back, as a large sort of exhibition piece. After all, Jack’s a legend known well outside his humble hunting-grounds of Whitechapel, and the ink done to commemorate this dark figure is generally a good sized composition.

That’s not always the case, of course, but it is the most common way that you’ll see old Jack when he’s depicted on someone’s skin. It reflects the true stories of the butcher, in that they are larger than life.

Characteristics and Styles of Jack the Ripper Tattoos

Jack the Ripper tattoos tend to be done in black and white. As his notoriety was gained in 1888 and he was a very shadowy figure, the starkness of a black and white tattoo just seems to be the most fitting.

Other traits that pop up in Ripper tattoos include actual newspaper headlines and even depictions of his victims, whose images appeared in the same newspapers that documented the infamous killings and frightened many a local into staying inside once the legend was ‘born’.

In most cases, a stark and realistic style is done for Jack the Ripper tattoos, but you’ll also find New School examples to give cartoonish exaggeration to the legend and you might well find color depictions if you look. The face is always hidden, because to this day we still simply do not know who the Ripper really was!


Some final words on Jack the Ripper tattoos

If you are a fan of Horror or history, looking for something dark that might even say a little bit about you, or simply want to shock a few folks with a nod to the story that frightened so many then a Jack the Ripper tattoo might be a good fit for you.

Take some time with it and see what designs are out there so that you know you’ve got the perfect one for you. You could rush it, of course, but just remember… Jack the Ripper was never caught and you wouldn’t want to upset his descendants now, would you?!

It’s much better (and safer) to take your time and do it right!

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