The popularity of the skull and crossbones in the last few years is really amazing. There are always new trends, but Pirates have lasted longer than most of them. The skulls and crossbones are pretty interesting symbols in themselves, But it is strange how much of a fascination they hold among youth subculture. As a tattoo artist, I know about the interest they have for people first hands. I have made more skull and crossbones tattoos then I care to think about. When I first started, I thought it was pretty cool. I liked pirates as much as the next guy, having grown up on old Errol Flynn movies. To me, the skull and crossbones signified adventure and excitement. Nowadays, however, I am sick to death of the skull and crossbones. I can’t figure out why anyone would want to wear them.
When you look at skull T shirts and skull flags, you might first think punk rock, however the skull and crossbones are actually even more broadly used by the military today. This is why the counterculture fascination really baffles me. If they had been only used by the pirates, I would understand it. After all, swashbuckling evokes a freer, more lawless time – something that many of us would like to get back to. But the fact is that many of the most authoritarian organizations in the world today use the skull and crossbones as their own flag. From Naval aviators to Los Angeles police anti-gang units, the skull and crossbones is officially or unofficially part of some very un-pirate-like organizations.
So before you get a skull cross bones tattoo, I would recommend thinking twice about it. Like the naval star before it, the skull and cross bones might seem like a good idea if you are a hipster, but I am sure that you will get sick of it within a couple years. It won’t be long before you wonder what you could have possibly been thinking with that skull and crossbones. Tattoos last for a lifetime, so maybe you should start with a skull and crossbones flag instead. There are many different kinds of pirate flags to choose from, and many of them might look quite interesting to you for a year or two. After that, you can always get rid of them easily. They are much easier to deal with than a permanent tattoo on your body.