The tattooing of a name onto a body is an excellent way to honor, remember and memorialize the life of a loved one or an important person in one's life. This process is fairly common, but many name-tattoos lack greatly in creativity. Simply tattooing a name in a flat and straightforward manner may be cheap and easy, but if you're looking for a more interesting tattoo, there are many methods available to you.
Instead of simply spelling out the name, use creative symbols in your tattoo. An easy alternative to using the standard alphabet is to use the alphabet of another culture, especially those that are symbol-based. Think beyond the common Chinese and Japanese to languages less often seen in tattoos, such as Egyptian or Sumerian hieroglyphics, Arabic or runes. Even more creative would be the use of an established code system like Braille, Morse Code, or the phonetic alphabet. You could also use the program at LMNTology (see Resources) to spell the name out using the Periodic Table of Elements and use the atomic structure of the atoms, or a molecule created using those atoms, as your tattoo.
If you aren't worried about other people recognizing the tattoo as a name, a creative way to show the name would be to write it using images. One method is the use of images to spell out the name phonetically. This works best with nicknames such as "Tiny" or "Tank," but real names can work as well. A tattoo of a domestic cat could represent the name "Katherine," or a clothes iron could be used for the name "Aaron."
Hire a Designer
While tattoo artists are frequently skilled artists, their main area of expertise is usually in the application of an image to skin, and not the actual creation of images. However, there are some creative workers who specialize in the use and creation of interesting and unique letters and words, such as graphic designers, calligraphers, graffiti artists and the creators of typefaces. If you have the money to spend beyond the cost of the tattoo, hiring a lettering professional to design your tattoo will guarantee that the final image is unique, creative and likely to draw eyes.
Alternative Tattoo Methods
In addition to alternate methods of actually writing the name in the tattoo, there are alternatives to the traditional tattooing methods themselves that lend uniqueness to a tattoo. Using ink that is the color of your skin will make your tattoo subtle, while using white or glow-in-the-dark ink creates a ghostly look that is visually striking. Some Middle Eastern cultures have been known to use ashes and other alternative materials to make tattoo ink, which creates both a unique look for the tattoo and an interesting story to accompany it. There are many alternative and creative tattoo application processes as well, including scarification and/or ink laid into light wounds in the shape of the desired tattoo or the Japanese style of tebori, or hand-tapping (no machine), tattoos.