Often known as highly powerful symbolic expressions, numbers can represent events, order, mathematics, destiny, or luck, and can even go beyond our Earth within the stars and planets. They have a relationship with all things in nature, and can serve as guides to one’s own self-exploration.
Numbers have existed since man began to count, but the numerals between zero and nine are Arabic numerals which medieval Europeans have based our modern number system on since Gutenberg invented moveable type.
Roman numerals, which are especially popular number tattoos, come from the decimal system based on the number “10.” They’re usually used to remember and embrace certain events that are greatly important to us, like anniversaries, birthdays, the Superbowl, or the day a loved one had passed.
Numbers are very flexible in meaning, which is why their significance differs with every individual. There are some general symbolic values that are known amongst everyone, but in most cases numbers represent something personally known by the wearer.
For those more in tune with the spiritual world, numbers are linked to numerology, Tarot, or superstition. For example, everyone knows the lucky number seven! There’s an endless list of possibilities one can accomplish with number tattoos.
This lovely little tattoo is a good example of a more ornate script style used to enhance the visual appeal of a number. Here, the number ten—no doubt holding some special significance to the wearer—is created using a formal script typeface that incorporates exaggerated serifs and filigree to produce a more interesting and personalized design. The line work is consistent and fairly precise, although there are some small flaws in the fine line filigree work. The use of gray wash shading is well executed and helps to create a more dynamic tattoo.
This large black and gray piece is a great example of how striking a number tattoo can be. The script takes some elements from Chicano lettering but uses a more restrained approach than some of the ornate letters that come from that style. The smooth gray wash shading and precise line work add contrast and really work to make the negative space letters pop. There is no doubt this date has major significance to the wearer, and this piece is a testament to the artist’s skill and the wearer’s dedication.
This gruesome piece uses expert color gradation and shading to create a unique tattoo. While the design is definitely not for everyone, the skill and technique are impeccable: it really looks like someone carved “629” into their arm. The attention to detail is also impressive. The artist used a lighter red tone outside the “cuts” to give the impression of the surrounding skin being irritated and inflamed. This piece is sure to turn heads and shock soccer moms.
This is a great black and gray design that takes the number 13—a common number in tattoos that has held all kinds of meaning and connotations over the years—and creates an interesting tattoo. Here, the artist uses varying tones of gray wash in combination with even and precise cross-hatching to add contrast to this tattoo. The black at the bottom of this piece is fully saturated and the outline helps to give the tattoo a rough, jagged quality while the use of splattered and dripping ink completes this design, helping to create a more dynamic tattoo. This is a great example of what a simple concept can become with the help of a talented, creative artist.
This is an interesting design that incorporates numbers and symbols to create a unique tattoo. The ragged script evokes images of letters carved into wood thanks to the consistent line work and fully saturated black. The use of the natural lines of the elbow, with the numbers spiraling out from the center works well and could hold some deeper significance. The placement and stylized script all work well in this tattoo and help to give this possible occult/numerological piece a mystical quality.
This interesting design uses several different elements to create a unique take on number tattoos. Binary code, falling like rain from a cloud could represent the wearer’s profession as a programmer, their passion for mathematics or it could simply be a design they liked. Whatever the meaning, this interesting black and gray tattoo uses excellent stipple shading to create raindrops and uniform, well-saturated line work to create the clouds and numbers. This design is a great example of the way numbers can be incorporated with other design elements to create a one of a kind tattoo.
This is a classic tattoo that evokes images of racecar numbers and old-school Americana. The overall design is even and well balanced, and the placement on the back of the arm above the elbow ensures that wearer can regularly show it off. The line work is precise and consistent and the gray wash shading within the numerals, as well as behind them, is smooth and increases contrast, helping the numbers to pop.
This is a great piece that effectively uses gray wash to create texture and help it to stand out from other number tattoos. The artist uses varying gray tones to perfectly create the impression of script chiseled in aging marble, evoking images of the Parthenon and Greek art. The line work used to create the cracks completes this effect, while the organization of the text creates a well-balanced composition. This is an interesting design that demonstrates the artist’s skill in creating realistic, life-like textures on the body.
Here is a great number tattoo that uses different shading techniques to great effect. This piece also makes use of alternating geometric and natural patterns that come from Polynesian designs. The diamonds at the top of the piece as well as the rolling waves are all common elements in these tribal tattoos and are perfectly executed here. The precise and consistent stipple work as well as the smooth lines and saturated black show off the artist’s patience and diligence and help to set this interesting tattoo apart from other pieces that incorporate numbers.