Pencil Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Pencil Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Tattoos don’t have to be overly complicated to be meaningful. Indeed, sometimes the most commonplace of things can have a deep and powerful effect on the viewer, and a great example of this is pencil tattoos.

In today’s article we’re going to talk about pencil tattoos to give you some idea of their symbolism, meanings, and more. If you fancy yourself an artist or a writer, you’d be hard-put to find a more appropriate way to express it then the simple, beloved tool that we know as ‘the pencil.’

Let’s take a closer look!


What is the History of Pencil Tattoos?

While we tend to think of pencils as the ‘high tech’ version of pens, this is actually not the case. Pens came thousands of years before pencils, which were not actually invented until 1795. They were created by a scientist serving in the army of Napoleon and for awhile, their use was resisted, so that they wouldn’t ‘catch on’ until 1870.

At that time, the Johnson Dixon Crucible company started an art supplies business called ‘Dixon Ticonderoga pencil and art supplies co.” and by the end of the 19th century, more than 240,000 pencils were in use every day in the United States.

While we can’t pinpoint when pencils started being expressed in ink, so to say, and while pen tattoos certainly came before pencil, what we can say is that by the 19th century or maybe even a little before they had certainly made an entrance.

After all, as they were initially introduced as art supplies and also made it more affordable to write as you like, without having to replace your ink at every go, it was only a matter of time before skin art artists would feature one of their favorite up-and-coming tools on the palette on some lucky person’s skin!


What Do Pencil Tattoos Symbolize?

Pencils can symbolize quite a few things, depending on how they look and whether or not they are being used in the depiction. For instance, a chewed-up pencil might indicate that the owner is often stressed or on edge, while a worn-down stump of a pencil might indicate someone who is no stranger to hard work.

A colored pencil might indicate an artist, although there the chosen color might also have some symbolism, and if the pencil is in the act of drawing, then the symbolism is further expanded to include whatever the fictional pencil is scribbling in.

That pencil could be writing a sentence, perhaps serious, or even a comical ‘why are you reading my tattoo?’, and both would be viable skin art expressions. That same pencil could also be drawing a symbol, animal, or person, and then you’d have to factor in the symbolism tied with that.

At its most basic, pencil tattoos might simply indicate an artist or a writer, but as you can see, the options are really impressively wide and varied with this simple, recognizable skin art choice. We all have memories of playing with pencils and doing homework, and we all know that nostalgia and skin art got married a long time ago!


What Do Pencil Tattoos Mean?

What pencil tattoos mean will depend completely on you, but you’ve certainly got options. A pencil writing can mean that you are a writer, though it’s important to choose what the pencil is writing as this will certainly have an effect. The same concept goes into play if it is drawing.

The state of the pencil is important, as well, and if you’ve ever picked up a well-used pencil (and come on, who hasn’t?) then the state of it really could tell you a lot.

Often there is a soft impression where fingers have pushed against it while in use, chew marks might be there, and sometimes even the eraser is removed – which could represent ‘writing one’s life’ and recognizing that we cannot ‘erase’ the past, but must simply keep ‘writing on’ to create our future.

Probably the best thing about pencil tattoos is that everyone has seen a pencil, so your carefully-crafted meaning is less likely to be lost on the onlooker, which makes it a deeply personal tattoo that can also tell anyone in the world quite a lot about you in a single, admiring glance.


Where Do Pencil Tattoos Usually Go?

Pencil tattoos are quite versatile and the writing and drawing tool itself is super-compact. As such, you can have a pencil stub or full pencil on your arm, a little pencil writing on your ankle, and it could also be placed just about anywhere else that you fancy.

They aren’t complicated either, requiring very little in the way of color if you want to depict a standard number 2 pencil or even colored pencils, and while they are rare in back pieces, if you were depicting the pencil writing out something important, such a tattoo is certainly an option.

That said, finalize your design and then get your artist’s opinion on placement so that you know where they think it will look best, at which point you can either agree or instead tell them to put it somewhere else that’s more appealing to you. It’s your tattoo, after all, and you’re the one making the rules!


Characteristics and Styles of Pencil Tattoos

Pencil tattoos can be depicted in a photorealistic fashion, though they are hardly limited to this. New School tattooing style, for instance, would make for a lot of fun, as your pencil could be sketching something that ‘comes to life’ in the form of a vibrant cartoon that has some personal meaning to you.

For artist types, you might even use vibrant Watercolor tattooing style so that the humble pencil is churning out sketches of whatever your mind can conjure in eye-popping color. Get creative with your design and be sure to have fun with it.

The pencil is something that has a little meaning for everyone, wherever you go on the planet, and that’s not something that you really see every day – so be sure to take advantage of this recognition and get those creative juices flowing as you design you own spectacular and meaningful tattoo.


Some final words on pencil tattoos

Pencils are one of the most flexible symbols out there and even have nostalgic value for all of us, whether it be our first writing compositions, or even less amusing nostalgia such as writing one sentence 1000 times for being naughty that one time in school.

It’s the perfect symbol for writers and artists, but whoever you are, it’s a symbol that has some seriously deep meaning and symbolism behind it. Needless to say, when it comes to ‘simple but mighty’ messages, pencil tattoos really have the potential to deliver!

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