Window Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Window Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Windows have long captivated our imagination. When we are inside, we can see the beauty of nature through a window and feel it’s pull, but on a more fanciful bent a window can even be a portal to another world.

In this article we’re going to tackle this subject in a little more detail to show you just how powerful the symbolism of the window can be when it comes to skin art. We’ll give you a hint – it’s more than just a view – so read on and we’ll tell you exactly why!


What is the History of Window Tattoos?

Pinpointing the history of Window Tattoos is a little tricky, but the natural starting point would be in windows themselves. From archaeological evidence, we can trace them all the way back to about the 13th century B.C., when the first windows were basically large holes in roof meant to let in some daylight.

Covered up with hides or wood panels, they were basic but effective, but around 100 A.D. the Romans got fancy with them and started to use glass, adding a little extra layer of insulation and the utility of being able to peek outside to appreciate a fine day or to spot invaders if you were lucky.

On their own as a tattoo form, however, it’s all about what windows represent and what’s nearby them.

For instance, someone looking out of a window or a surreal landscape inked-in behind a window both present very different messages, and since windows have always been viewed as portals to the outside, then it’s at least safe to say that they have likely been portrayed in skin art for quite some time in our history.


What Do Window Tattoos Symbolize?

Windows symbolize two things, really, when you think about it. You’ve got whatever is inside, if there is something, and whatever you can see through the window. So, with our earlier examples of a person inside looking out of a window and a plan window with a surreal landscape, we have two distinct interpretations:

  • The person looking out through the window might feel trapped in life, allowed only glances at the world outside. If they are on the other side of the window, then they are ‘outside, looking in’ as the popular saying goes.
  • A surreal landscape outside of a window could indicate that the owner has a weakness for adventure or simply understands that something new is waiting around the corner, for those bold enough to look out and open the window to escape to the world outside

These are just examples but it gives you a basic symbolism template – a window is a portal to something or it is a sort of a pretty prison. A peek at another world that may or may not be accessible, based on whatever is around to clarify the artistic intent behind the choice of the window in the first place.


What Do Window Tattoos Mean?

If we had to boil it down, in most cases Window Tattoos mean that the owner is basically an escape artist, or at least they would really like to be.

As a window may certainly show us something surreal on the other side, it’s primary mode of function is one of visible division – this is inside, that is outside, and you can look but not necessarily touch what you see!

This makes for thought-provoking tattoos that can tell a lot about the wearer and the message can be as simple or as complex as you like.

Even a plain, unadorned tattoo of a window can have a message, such as ‘there’s quite a lot more waiting inside’ or even ‘I’m looking to get out’, depending on it’s portrayal and the artist’s skill.


Where Do Window Tattoos Usually Go?

It depends on the type of message. Let’s say that you wanted to honor your marriage, then you might tattoo a window with the silhouette of you and your spouse together looking out of a window, and you’d likely put it where anyone could see it – perhaps on the outer arm.

More often, however, since we view windows with almost a private fascination, they tend to be placed more privately. For instance, the upper portion of the leg is easy to hide but gives you a lot of detail space.

On the back, you can put a window tattoo that says something intimate about you and the remaining space just magnifies the message.

A window on the forearm or ankle is certainly an option if you want it, or even a window to your heart on your chest – part of what makes tattoos so personal is choosing where they go and the right place for you might not align with the ‘norm’ when it comes to placement. Just do what feels right!

Characteristics and Styles of Window Tattoos

Most Windows tattoos have a large window, so that they are clearly part of the meaning, but also so that you get a better look at what’s outside and what is inside. That doesn’t mean that the tattoo has to actually be large – a minimalist tattoo can say a lot compactly – only that the window is what ‘makes it work’.

For styles, most commonly the window itself is a stark thing of black and white, although the items inside or out will likely have a bit of color to them, in order to emphasize the ‘inside and out’ message that the window is intended to convey.

You could certainly use any style that you like or even mix them. A black and white window with a New School scene behind it would look amazing.

On the inverse, a New School window looking out on a stark, gray landscape says a lot as well. Get creative with it and have fun – there’s really no WRONG styles, but you should look around to see what you like. Often when we’ve found the perfect design, imagining it in different styles can make that core design even BETTER!


Closing the window on the subject of Windows Tattoos

As you can see, the basic symbolism of the window is a clear barrier or even a doorway that creates a message by contrasting what is outside and what is inside. It’s a deep meaning for what’s basically a glass-filled hole in a house, but human imagination has always had a special place for windows.

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