This is a terrific question! I love looking at other people's
tattoos, but I'm *such* a pansy - haven't gotten one, even though I
think they're nifty.
Let me tell you what mine would be, if I weren't so chicken: an ankh,
the Egyptian symbol for "Life". If you're familiar with the works of
Neil Gaiman, you'll know that his Sandman character, Death, wears an
ankh - not because she has a sense of the ironic, but because she
values Life and encourages people to live theirs to the fullest. "You
get what anyone gets - you get a lifetime," she says to one she's come
to collect, a reminder that we only get one, and it's up to us to make
the most of it.
Here are a few pictures of Death, with her Ankh:
"Only Mortals Live Forever"
From "Death: The High Cost of Living"
Death, by Mike Lilly
Like the phoenix, the ankh has also come to symboblize rebirth or
enduring life - this may be a very good fit for you!
Another Egyptian symbol you might find interesting is the Eye of
Horus. Horus was the falcon-headed son of Isis and Osiris - half
mortal, half god, Horus was seen as a link between the living and the
afterlife. His eye is often found on sarcophogi, painted there so the
dead can watch from their place of repose. The Eye of Horus is said
to represent health and well-being, and was often worn as an amulet
for protection from sickness and injury:
The Eye As Sign And Symbol
The Eye of Horus
Chinese characters are quite popular, both among tattoo enthusiasts
and henna artists. In particular, concepts such as Happiness, Hope
and Inspiration are often sought. I've located the Chinese characters
for the following concepts for you - some are ornate, some simple, all
lovely: Good health, Happiness, Heaven, Hope, Humility, Inspiration,
Frequently Asked Chinese Characters: G - I
Jun Shan has also posted the top ten most lucky Chinese characters -
among them Good Luck, Longevity, Prosperity, Love and Virtue:
Top Ten Lucky Symbols
Wildly popular Fairy artist Amy Brown allows the use of all but her
limited edition works for personal tattoos, the only stipulation being
that the tattoo artist may not offer the work commercially - in other
words, you can take your favorite Fairy in and have her tattooed on
you, but the tattoo artist may not add that picture to his "book" (to
offer to other clients) without getting permission from Amy first.
(Amy is very generous with the use of her artwork, but will bite
anyone who abuses that generosity).
Here's her tattoo policy:
"A lot of inquiries about tattoos have been sent in. Amy allows the
use of her images for personal tattoos. Tattoo artists are not allowed
to offer the images commercially unless an arrangement is made with
the artist. If you have one of Amy's faeries tattooed on you, feel
free to send a photo of it to us."
Amy Brown Fantasy Art - General Information
...and a gallery of tattoos submitted by Amy's fans:
Fantasy & Fairy Tattoos
...and a few of Amy's nifty Fairies, because everyone has a little
magic in them:
Looks Like Trouble
Book Faery (Perfect for a Researcher Girl!)
...or you can view her entire collection:
Amy Brown Fantasy Art
Elfwood artist Anna Gunnervaldh has posted a wonderful sketch of a
fire horse - it's not colored, but a skilled tattoo artist could
easily help with that. The lines are simple, and would lend
themselves well to tatooing. Of course, you'd have to get permission
before using it (don't want to run afoul of copyright laws!):
Erik Mayer also offers an interesting interpretation of his Chinese
For a non-literal take on the Fire Horse, how about the symbol for it?
I found it in a very odd place, but it's quite nifty. You'll need to
scroll almost to the very bottom:
The Making of JT and HZ
I hope these are a good start for you, Jem! If you think you need
more pictures, or have other avenues you'd like me to explore for you,
just ask, and I'll be happy to do it!