Browse a Gallery of Kurt Vonnegut Tattoos, and See Why He’s the Big Gorilla of Literary Tattoos

Vonnegut Tattoos 1

Accord­ing to Eva Tal­madge, co-author of The Word Made Flesh: Lit­er­ary Tat­toos from Book­worms World­wide, Kurt Von­negut is the big goril­la of lit tat­toos (a dis­tinc­tion he shares with poet e.e. cum­mings).

It’s not sur­pris­ing. Vonnegut’s humor and con­ci­sion make him one of the most quotable authors of all time, per­fect­ly suit­ed to the task.

Rep­e­ti­tion is the price Von­negut tat­too enthu­si­asts must pay for such endur­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty.

The phrase “so it goes” occurs 106 times in Slaugh­ter­house-Five, a fig­ure dwarfed many times over by the num­ber of hides upon which it is per­ma­nent­ly inked. Recur­rence is so fre­quent that the lit­er­ary tat­too blog, Con­trari­wise, recent­ly host­ed a round of So It Goes Sat­ur­days. So it goes.

Vonnegut 2

Vonnegut Tattoos 3

Vonnegut Tattoos 4

The sec­ond run­ner up, also from Slaugh­ter­house-Five,  is the painful­ly iron­ic “Every­thing was Beau­ti­ful and Noth­ing Hurt.”

Vonnegut Tattoos 5

Vonnegut Tattoos 6

Vonnegut Tattoos 7

Vonnegut Tattoos 8

Vonnegut Tattoos 9

Those who’d rather put a bird on it than present an acces­si­ble sen­ti­ment to the unini­ti­at­ed can opt for “poo-tee-weet,” the catch­phrase of a bird who’s a wit­ness to war.  Cer­tain to con­found the folks star­ing at your tri­ceps in the gro­cery line.

Vonnegut Tattoos 10

Vonnegut Tattoos 11

Slaugh­ter­house Five is not Vonnegut’s only tat­too-friend­ly nov­el, of course.

Break­fast of Cham­pi­ons is par­tic­u­lar­ly well suit­ed to the form, thanks to the author’s own line draw­ings.

Vonnegut Tattoos 12

Vonnegut Tattoos 15

There’s also Slap­stick:

Vonnegut Tattoos 16

Hocus Pocus:

Vonnegut Tattoos 17

Cat’s Cra­dle:

Vonnegut Tattoos 18

God Bless You Mr. Rose­wa­ter:


And then there’s the infa­mous aster­isk, whose first appear­ance in Break­fast in Cham­pi­ons is pre­ced­ed thus­ly:

…to give an idea of the matu­ri­ty of my illus­tra­tions for this book, here is my pic­ture of an ass­hole”

Vonnegut Tattoos 20

Hard­core fans can can prove their ded­i­ca­tion by tak­ing a por­trait of the mas­ter to the grave with them.

Vonnegut Tattoos 22

Vonnegut Tattoos 23

Depend­ing on your tol­er­ance for pain, you could squeeze in a longer sen­ti­ment:

Vonnegut Tattoos 24

“I want­ed all things

To seem to make some sense,

So we could all be hap­py, yes,

Instead of tense.

And I made up lies

So that they all fit nice,

And I made this sad world

A par-a-dise.”

― Kurt Von­negut, A Man With­out a Coun­try

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Daz­zling Gallery of Clock­work Orange Tat­toos

Meet Amer­i­ca & Britain’s First Female Tat­too Artists: Maud Wag­n­er (1877–1961) & Jessie Knight (1904–1994)

Why Tat­toos Are Per­ma­nent? New TED Ed Video Explains with Ani­ma­tion

Hear Kurt Von­negut Read Slaugh­ter­house-Five, Cat’s Cra­dle & Oth­er Nov­els

Kurt Von­negut Cre­ates a Report Card for His Nov­els, Rank­ing Them From A+ to D

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Her play, Fawn­book, opens in New York City lat­er this month. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.