Keen historical context and an intense statement accompany this tattoo that was originally given life as a bold political cartoon. The founding attitude of America is written in the simple design, showing not just strength of character, but strength of will.
‘Join, or Die’ tattoos make a brazen statement that applies as much today as hundreds of years ago.
This fierce snake cartoon originally called on the American colonists to join together against the French and natives. Later, it became a rallying cry for the colonies to join together against the tyranny of the British. Not only does this tattoo show a strength of character, it shows a man’s true patriotism and respect for those who came before him.
The original design is timeless and daring, but often is updated into a dynamic, attacking snake for a more edgy and aggressive look that would complement any broad arm or bare back. The image of a cut snake can draw a lot of attention, and the classic design evokes a curiosity in anyone who recognizes the centuries old style.
Become inspired by the patriotism of those that fought for freedom and unity in a world divided by fear and the unknown.
1. Line, and Black/Gray ‘Join, or Die’ Tattoos
When one thinks of a traditional ‘Join, or die tattoo’, the original design applied in black line or black and gray shading comes to mind. This category harbors the most example imagery because of the popularity surrounding the original design. Placement is not nearly as important as concept and application, if the goal is to recreate the classic image onto the skin traditionally.
The simple line work and lettering leaves little room for creativity and expression. however, tattoo placement and script lettering allows the piece to explore various styles, while keeping it clearly in line with the overall classic aspect. The second to last photo captures this ideology by stripping the tattoo down to the bone, leaving the solo design to speak for itself. So don’t be afraid to leave out color for this one, it will look brazen by doing so, and guarantee a solid, faithfully reproduced tattoo!
2. ‘Join, or Die’ American and Neo Traditional Tattoos
Breaking the mold of the original ‘Join, or Die’ tattoo is easily achieved by introducing the color palette and bold black outlines one expects from employing American traditional aspects. This iconic tattoo style allows the artist to take the original composition and incorporate suitably old school applications with creativity and flair.
Traditional ink offers broad image options, so the possibilities of meshing the ‘Join, or Die’ arrangement with fundamental concepts puts a fresh twist on the idea. The third to last tattoo pictured holds the foundation of the classic drawing, while adding distinct colors and wrapping the ink with a bold outline ensures the tattoo lives a long life.
The undeniable, iconic meaning behind classic composition is not at risk of being lost in ‘Join, or Die’ works of this kind. American traditional tattooing is a fitting option amongst for ink enthusiasts to choose from when considering a ‘Join, or Die’ themed piece of body art.
3. ‘Join, Or Die’ Chest Tattoos
Placing the ‘Join, or Die’ tattoo on the chest is appropriate given the symbols origin representing bravery and patriotism. Chest tattoos are bold, iconic, and a centerpiece for a large scale, valiant tattoo with massive amounts of sentimental value.
The simple, segmented snake image possesses qualities that allow it to be rendered to any size, making the broad space of the chest an ideal spot to incorporate variety. Chest pieces put the ink front and center, elevating the seriousness of the tattoo and making it the perfect spot for a ‘Join, or Die’ piece!
4. Forearm ‘Join, or Die’ Tattoos
The forearm is a popular spot chosen for the ‘Join, or Die’ arrangement. The tattoo sits extremely well in this spot, flowing well down the arm. Tattoo collectors and artists alike appreciate the lower arm for its ability to bring out creative take on the classical concept in a visible location. Strategically placing the broken snake on the forearm is an excellent way to finish off a full sleeve completed in virtually any other ink style.
5. Unique ‘Join, or Die’ Tattoos
If large, bold back pieces or complete arm or leg sleeves isn’t your thing, than small hand or finger tattoos might be more your speed. The good news is the broken snake idea can be etched on the hands with ease, as one artist expertly breaks up the snake across every finger. The entire composition is presented but crafted in a creative manner, making the tattoo exceptionally more interesting.
One possible setback to choosing this location is the longevity of the ink. If this spot screams out to you, find an artist with solid technical application that will give this iconic design justice!
Taking away the snake away entirely and leaving behind just the wording is another suitable option, such as the example script above, or creating a single colored section amongst the black linework is also an effective change up to traditional expressions of ‘Join, or Die.’
‘Join, or Die’ Tattoo FAQ
What’s the meaning of a ‘Join, or Die’ Tattoo?
Each piece of the broken snake was created to represent each colony joining forces against enemies both domestic and foreign. The classic imagery, overtime, has adopted alternative meaning and a broadened definition. The significance of the broken snake design has lasted hundreds of years and will continue to represent bravery, patriotism, and freedom.
Is a ‘Join, or Die’ tattoo offensive?
Every tattoo possesses the ability to be offensive and taken in various contexts. Tattoos, like any medium of art, is open to interpretation and judgment. A ‘Join, or Die’ inspired tattoo or recreation of the original design holds meaning dating back hundreds of years and is not intrinsically offensive. The spirit of the classic sketch continues to attract artists and ink collectors alike.