Important Historical Figures with Tattoos

Over the past few decades, tattoos become more and more accepted in modern society. But tattoos have been around for thousands of years, and big names in history have been getting them even before they were as common as they are now. 

In this article, we’ll talk about some important people in history who had tattoos - and a few of them might surprise you.

Andrew Jackson

Painting of President Jackson

Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States and is one of many politicians on this list. Jackson had a tomahawk tattooed on his inner thigh, potentially due to his long history with Native Americans. 

Winston Churchill

A photograph of Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Churchill served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II and was an officer in the British army before that. A bold politician, Churchill reportedly had a tattoo of an anchor on his right arm, which could be seen as an odd choice, since the anchor was usually worn by members of the navy, not the army. Because tattoos were not widely accepted at the time, there aren't any photos of his tattoo. 

It’s also speculated that Churchill’s mother may have gotten a tattoo of an ouroboros after becoming interested in tattoos when sailing around the world. This rumor was never confirmed and may have been made up to give her a reputation as a free spirit.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison with a lightbulb

Thomas Edison invented the electric pen, which led directly to Samuel O’Reilly inventing the first electric tattoo machine. Thomas Edison had five dots tattooed on his arm, suggesting that he might have tested the tattoo machine out on himself.

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

It has been rumored for a long time that President Teddy Roosevelt had a large tattoo of his family crest across his chest. This is not a confirmed tattoo, and scholars claim that the rumor was never true. 

However, Teddy Roosevelt did have gunpowder tattoos that he accidentally gave himself at age 13 when burned gunpowder residue left permanent black marks on his skin.

John Wilkes Booth

Photograph of John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth is famous for assassinating President Abraham Lincoln. His sister, Asia, wrote in a book that he had his initials tattooed across the back of his hand in India ink. 

George Orwell

Author George Orwell

George Orwell, author of the famous dystopian novel 1984 had tattoos of blue spots on his knuckles. He apparently got them while he was a police officer in Burma. 

Czar Nicholas II

Czar Nicholas II showing his dragon tattoo

Nicholas II, who was czar of Russia from 1894 to 1917, had a large dragon tattooed on his arm during a trip to Japan. Nicholas was the victim of an assassination attempt during his trip to Japan, but made it back to Russia alive with a tattoo that took over 7 hours to complete.

King Harold II

Painting of King Harold II

Harold II was the last Anglo-Saxon king and the first British royal known to have tattoos. Harold II died in battle in 1066, and his body was identified by his two tattoos. His tattoos, which read “Edith” and “England” represented his love for his wife and his country.  

James Knox Polk

Painting of James K. Polk

Andrew Jackson was not the only president with a tattoo. Polk had at least one tattoo of a Chinese character that is said to have meant “eager.”

Prepare for a Tattoo Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

Understanding the history of tattoos is an important step in your journey toward a tattoo career, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straight-forward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into the tattoo business because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need for your tattoo career. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start working full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

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Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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