The Legend of Zelda has been a fan favorite for decades. There is something for everyone among the battle, puzzles, action, and complex storylines that take us through various quests. A gaming hallmark since 1986 its release, LOZ has had countless successful games and a variety of spin-offs. As a member of Generation Ink with my 30 or so tattoos, I understand the allure of getting a tattoo to show love and appreciation for a video game. I played hours upon hours of LOZ growing up. I still play now and love it all the same.
There are some incredible tattoos out there for the LOZ fanbase. With so many games to choose from, coming up with an idea can be tricky. Trust me, I know from experience; that finding the right balance is the goal.
Fear not, fellow tattoo enthusiasts for I am here to help! Together, we will delve into the tattoo types, process, and decision making and help generate some ideas for your next (or first) piece!
Things to Consider
Tattoos are permanent. I cannot stress this enough. LOZ is timeless, but making sure the enduring piece be on you for the rest of your days is critical. As LOZ has grown, so has the artistic style of the game. Variation is useful when picking a tattoo style to use. LOZ lends itself to a wide variety of styles.
- Traditional/Old School
- Classic Americana
- Black and Grey
- Stick and Poke
- As Well As Many Others
I have several black and grey-styled tattoos and a fair amount of neo-traditional. I believe the best way to decide how you want to display your LOZ ink is through your style. Consider your color scheme and general vibe before diving into a style.
Speaking from experience, if this is your first tattoo, avoid the ribs, ditch (where your elbow bends), and the upper inner bicep. This Guide has served me well over the years, and I highly recommend checking it out. My first tattoo was on the back of my arm. I’m glad that is the road I took because it eased me into the process. Getting a tattoo won’t be a completely painless experience; know that going into it. Your tattoo will not be getting licked on by a kitten. However, depending on where you’re planning to get tattooed, you can minimize your pain.
When it comes to tattoos, size matters. Sorry folks, but that is the truth. With body art, there are so many factors to consider. Think of price, time, and placement. Placement and size go hand-in-hand and depending on where you go, you’re going to pay by the hour or by size. A factor to remember for both black and grey and color tattoos; ink can run together if not given enough space. Make sure you check!
Color vs. Black and Grey
I have more black and grey tattoos than color, but I like a nice pop of something bright. My left arm is a patchwork sleeve, and I have a color piece within other designs. It works. However, there is no right or wrong way to decide your color preferences for your tattoo. LOZ lends itself nicely to both colorful and monochromatic variations.
Wait, Where Do I Go
Being as tattooed as I am, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to figuring out where to go and what to look for. I’ve had a couple of artists do work on me, and I’m lucky: they have been great. For the last six years, I’ve been going to the same artist, and with his versatlity, we have created a solid artist and client bond.
There’s research into each artist. Artists have specialties, and it’s important to have a clear idea of what style you want to go with before you walk into a studio. Two great ways to figure out an artist are through Instagram and the studio website. Portfolios are almost always on display. Take time to read Google and Yelp reviews to gauge the environment and artistic versatility.
A good studio atmosphere is important, and everyone finds comfort in something different. You’re going to be getting poked by a variety of pulsating, buzzing needles, so you might as well be comfortable.
LOZ has given us so many storylines and recognizable symbols that initially, deciding on a tattoo could seem easy, but I know it gets daunting. So, I have scoured the hashtags, the Pinterest boards, and the corners of social media to find some great examples for your LOZ piece. These have been chosen because they:
- Relates the LOZ franchise
- Show high-quality work
- Represent the different games and styles as the franchise has evolved
- Are placed well for the client
- Inspire the love of the game
LOZ has been awarded the title of one of the greatest gaming franchises in history, and there are a host of reasons for that. It is one of the most easily recognizable games by symbols alone.
This is the ultimate hallmark of LOZ. The Triforce is the universal symbol for LOZ. The three triangles on the outside represent balance and elements. Signifying the Temples and trials you, the player, will go through and Hyrule’s backstory. You can go all out with the Triforce or stay simplistic. Combined with the design of the Hylian shield, we see the elements, and a pop of color, justice is done to the franchises most noticeable design. There are always more to add to a Triforce too.
From the beginning, this is how you measured your luck within the world of LOZ. How many hearts did you have left, and how soon could you get your hands on a potion? Tattooed here is a beautiful rendition of another universal symbol, and lends itself to a variety of add-ons.
Seen frequently throughout the series, especially in Majora’s Mask, the Sheikah Eye is a symbol of truth. This piece is a prime example of dotwork. This has to be on the larger side for this level of detail with dotwork, however, a smaller version is probably possible, but will come out with a more simple design.
This bold and beautiful illustrative piece is the definition of clean linework and color accuracy. Arguably one of the most frustrating yet enjoyable games, Majora’s Mask centers around, you guessed it: the mask. A piece like this needs to be on the larger side to show the amount of detail that’s in the design and highlights the colors properly.
Skull Kid is the driving force behind the chaos of Majora’s Mask. He is the Clock Tower menace that you’re racing against the clock to stop. This piece is done in beautiful color with accents of black and grey work to add depth with shadow. A tattoo of this size requires ample real estate to allow the maximum detail to show in its complete capacity.
The namesake of the LOZ franchise, this portrait of Zelda is a gorgeous mashup of black and grey, dotwork, and borderline anime style. A large tattoo requires ample space, but it’s well worth it. The shading from the dotwork is clean and the lines are beautifully done. One of the great things about this piece and one likes it are the possibilities. The Triforce is already below, allowing for the hint of a beginning of a sleeve. I love a tattoo that has the potential to grow into something more intricate, but also can work as a standalone piece.
I don’t know about you, but this character haunted my nightmares when I was a child. When I first played, my age was in the single digits, and this face scared the life out of me. However, now that I’m older, wiser, and not afraid of the animation; wow. A coverup tattoo done in incredible illustrative detail. A chest piece can be hard to pull off, but the sizing of this tattoo is perfect for the spot. The moon comes with ominous clouds, and combined with the off-color teeth piercing red eyes, here stands a solid tattoo.
Our Hylian Hero comes in many iterations, and here are some of my favorites.
Dotwork and anime show off childhood Link in all his glory. His little mischievous smile allowing for a cute little homage to our main character, or something to fit into a sleeve of any kind. That is the beauty of a piece like this; there are endless possibilities. It could be an entire video game sleeve or spot in a patchwork.
A fun color leg piece acts as a throwback to the 8-bit days while keeping us partly in the present. The games longevity shows here, and I love this. There is room for drop shading in the background or to keep it as is.
Did Windwaker make an impact on you like it did on me? An anime piece here captures the game perfectly, without wondering what game we are seeing, all tied together in colorful anime. Would you add more to it?
Who can forget the adorable little Deku Link? This tattoo is sizable but still gives the memory of our hero as a child, sitting on a log holding a flower. I see this as a standalone piece. Given the shading in the background and Navi up above, ready to give some advice. The intricate details of the wood grain and the facial expression are gorgeous.
As LOZ spans over decades, there are so many components and characters to put together in any way you like. Of course, there are sleeves out there already, but the possibilities are endless; I think that is part of the magic of LOZ.
A great display here is the incorporation of Link, noticeable and recognizable symbols from the franchise, and the room to grow. A few different styles have meshed together here, another reason this is a great jumping-off point. Opportunities abound!
I love the spooky vibe here. The dark realism on some of the more ominous characters of LOZ melds together incredibly well to create a colorful, realistic sleeve. Each tattoo conjures up another memory of a boss battle or a mild jump-scare throughout the series, and this is one of the best sleeves I have come across in my quest.
This transitional piece lends itself to the room to grow, central in this tattoo, watching Link grow. Perhaps young Link is playing the Song of Time. The design has a lot of potential, with other video games mashup with LOZ (Super Smash Brothers, I’m talking to you) or as a standalone. The backdrop colors pair beautifully with Links green ensemble.
Here is a complete piece. Inability to draw inspiration from this piece is impossible. The representation of pivotal moments, places, and symbols: everything is there. In full color too, which I usually would not gravitate towards for myself, but I could see getting any of these pieces inked on me immediately. The transition from a geometric looking heart to the realism of the bongos from Dodongo cave on the inner bicep to the water features is impeccable.
The best thing about the LOZ franchise, as I said, is there is no wrong way to go about deciding on a tattoo. There are many games to the series, so many moments to capture. Everything from the recognizable symbols to the intricate moments that captured your heart and attention in a way that only one interaction within a village on the outskirts of Hyrule, there are choices galore. To include them all would be a novel within itself.
I’ve told you my favorites, and now it’s up to you to decide; what will it be? Realism? Geometric? A whole scene or a small piece that could become more? If I had to decide right now, perhaps I would throw it back to my favorite installment, Ocarina of Time, and take inspiration from there. Good luck on your own hero’s journey in deciding, and thanks for stopping by!
Question: What Should I do Before my Tattoo?
Answer: Whether this is your first tattoo or you’re a seasoned canvas, there are cardinal rules to follow. Before your tattoo, avoid aspirin or alcohol: anything that thins your blood is a no-no. Have a full meal, because your body will release adrenaline regardless, and it’s good to give it something to work on. Bring a drink, maybe a candy, and a good attitude.
Question: How Long Will it Take?
Answer: Depends on the size and time. If you made an appointment and specifically blocked out time with your artist, go with a rough idea. If you’re doing a walk-in, don’t expect that your artist will have five hours to devote to your intricate idea. If it’s a small piece, they may have time to get you in and out of the chair. From drawing, placing, inking, and out the door, an hour or so could be possible. Talk to your artist, figure out a timing game plan, and be flexible.
Question: Is it Going to be Very Painful?
Answer: Above, I linked the tattoo pain chart, which is usually relatively spot on. However, you know your body best. Some areas are distinctively more painful than others. Ribs — ouch. Arm; not so bad. The inner part of anywhere is going to be more sensitive. The inner arm is more painful than the outer. As I said, you know your body best. Talk with your artist as well. They are probably covered in a fair amount of ink and can give you an honest answer from experience.