In recent years, the connection between tattoo art and the food industry has become more intrinsic than ever. With the ‘foodie movement’ literally taking over the world and social media, people are now more likely than ever to permanently mark their skin with their favourite meals or ingredients.
Last week, more than 100 people lined up at Port City Tattoo in California to get a free tattoo of Arby’s signature dishes, like curly fries and cheese sandwiches. Similarly, 400 customers recently got a Domino’s Pizza tattoo in Russia to win free pizza for life. While brands use these campaigns as powerful marketing tools, it’s not unusual to see old school style burgers and stylised avocados on any body part.
We visited the Hong Kong Tattoo Convention to ask artists from all over the continent and the world what are the most popular food tattoos.
In East Asia, the peach tree is considered the tree of life. In Japan in particular, the fruit is a mythological symbol of fertility and immortality and has been one of the most popular tattoos for decades. As Japanese culture and symbolism has now conquered the world over, small, juicy and colourful peaches are now a favourite pretty much everywhere.
We were not surprised to hear that detailed and mouth-watering bowls of noodles are one of the most popular subjects in China and around Asia, but after talking to artists from other parts of the world, we realised that the continent’s most loved comfort food is also visually very appealing for tattoo and food lovers from New York to Stockholm.
Whether it’s a gigantic pancake, a pavlova, a macaroon or a cookie, millennials are crazy for dessert tattoos. We saw many examples of this trend at the convention and we understand why our favourite sweet treats and guilty pleasures are the Insta-perfect subjects for a tattoo.
The one and only king of #foodstagram and all that, carries on into tattoos, too. As one of the undisputed symbols of the millennial generation, the avocado is obviously among the most requested subjects all over the world, by itself, with an egg or, of course, on a toast.
No, pizza is not just a 1990s thing, it’s still a favourite for when it comes to food as well as tattoo preferences. After asking around, we realised that the most classic and appreciated of comfort foods will always be in the minds and hearts of people everywhere. Not surprisingly, as a subject, it’s even more popular in the US and continental Europe.
Remember the old proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Apparently, many young people all over the world really live by it as green and red apples are extremely popular as tattoo subjects. Plus, in many cultures, they’re also regarded as forbidden fruits and as symbols of transgression.
Nigiri is having a moment in the tattoo world. Both because sushi has become a staple pretty much everywhere and because the classic pieces are the perfect fillers in between bigger subjects or on your fingers. Salmon, tuna, and the “not-so-Japanese” creative rolls, are the most requested outside Japan.
A set of random food emojis or, as some tattoo artists describe it, a “food vortex,” is very popular at the moment, especially in the “cute tattoo” category for newbies. Subjects vary, but fruits are usually the most common.