40K EDITORIAL: Ink for the Ink Gods

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I have tattoos. As those of you who have met me in person know they are an important part of who I am – as I think they are to anyone that has them. One thing I’m lacking right now is a gaming tattoo…

Getting inked is not a decision to take lightly, so I do as much research as I can before choosing a design and going under the needle. In my quest to figure out how I want to make this hobby a permanent part of me I talked to a few folks that have Warhammer ink, and I thought I’d share the stories of their tattoos here.

Kedge made it very clear that this tattoo is no about the GW fandom, or even the Eldar race – it’s for the Harlequins, which have spoken to him since he started playing. He told me: “I’m a big believer in the awesomeness of laughter – and diamond patterns and masks!”


The symbol is from an image of a rune [representing the Craftworlds, Harlequins, Exodites, and the Dark Eldar, among others] covered tablet  the 3rd Edition Eldar Codex. It means “those who travel” and “the fearless” as well as representing the God of Laughter. The representation is the most important aspect to him. He explains: “I’ve always been the joker amongst my friendship group, from starting secondary school (that’s eleven years old, I don’t know if you know how British schools work) right up to now (I’m 22), and since I’ve known about Him I’ve always considered myself a bit of a disciple! It just made sense to me that something so fundamental to my being – making people laugh – should have some kind of representation on my skin.”

When Kedge first got into 40K he was drawn to the Eldar’s aesthic, and the more he learned about the race the more enthralled he became. “There’s nothing at all I dislike about the Eldar, from the fast and fragile playstyle to the idea that their own decadence spawned a literal God of Excess and how all the individual groups deal with that in a different way… I’m tempted to say that what I like most about the Eldar is the way the Avatar says, ‘I AM KAELA MENSHA KHAINE’ on arrival in Dawn of War but really we all know what my answer was going to be… it’s the Harlequins, and everything about them!”


Rebecca started in the hobby about 7 years ago after her husband, a veteran 40K player, told her about the Eldar. Her long standing love of elves – that started when she read the Hobbit in her early teens – made picking up the game irresistible. Since then she has grown that love for elves into armies for WFB [High and Wood Elves], LOTR [Lothlorien], and 40K [Eldar – she currently has 10k points of Beil tan]. Though her Lothlorien army is the most special due to her history with Tolkien’s books, the game’s waning popularity pushed her to play more 40K. When the Harlequins were introduced she was drawn their bold colors and masks.

In an email Rebecca told me: “The month they came out, White Dwarf’s front cover featured a large picture of a gorgeous she-Harlequin. That’s the Harlequin I have on my back, with a few alterations. My army is purple, my favorite color, so I had parts of her done in purple. Harlequins have no loyalty to a certain craft world, but my army was Biel Tan, so I added the symbol anyway. I just thought it was a thing of beauty and a great way to show off my love of elves.”
Tooze, one of the Lounge regulars, told me that gaming has been a large part of his life for more than 10 years, which is why he has chosen to make 40K symbology a permanent part of his skin. He uses his tattoos as reminders of milestones in his life – he got his Dark Angels ink as a form of therapy and in celebration of earning his History degree. He’s planing on getting the Apothecary symbol to signify his completion of EMT school next.
“I’ve played dark angels since their old shared codex with Blood Angels… Angels of Darkness. I chose the Deathwing symbols because I’ve embarked on a multi-year goal of collecting the entire chapter. I have the entire first company; 100 terminators magnetized to use either as close combat weapons or ranged weapons; the second company, all bikes and speeders; the tenth, all scouts; and the 3rd and 4th battle companies. Just need a few hundred more marines and like thirty or so Rhinos….”
I met Dave Taylor at WarGames Con in 2010. Along with being an all around great guy and award winning miniature painter, he has some fantastic Warhammer ink. In his own words:

“Writing about tattoos is a pretty tough thing to do, especially when they’re your own. While painting miniatures is a hobby that allows for a ton of personal immersion, something like permanent body art takes it so many steps further.

I have three “hobby-related” tattoos that I’ve had inked at various milestones over the years, milestones in my life and my career (which is fortunately in the wargaming “industry”).

I started out working for Games Workshop in 1994 in a store in my hometown and, after five years of hard toil, I worked my way up to running the GW OZ studio (well by then there were two of us in the studio). My first two tatts are directly related to my GW experiences. In 1999, to celebrate the second Games Day I’d organized, the first OZ-printed copy of White Dwarf that I organized, and five years in a company that had only been in Australia for six years, I got an Imperial eagle tattooed on my right shoulder. Simple, black, indicative of my loyalties.

In 2004, to celebrate my 10 years with the company, amongst a host of other achievements (including moving to the US arm of the company), I got a tattoo of the Double Eagle logo from the Dan Abnett book of the same name. Again, it was simple, solid black, and still indicative of my loyalties.

I was all set to add to my tattoo collection in 2009 for what would have been my 15 year mark with GW, but that milestone was not to be reached.

Instead, with a new lease on life outside of GW yet still involved in the hobby and working for another great wargaming company (Battlefront Miniatures, makers of Flames of War and the Wargames Illustrated magazine), I had an opportunity to expand my horizons. Excited by the support my blog was receiving from the hobby community I thought I’d do something crazy to express my freedom and mark the creation of my latest major project, the Blood Pact army. So, in February 2010 I ran a competition on my blog to create the design for my Blood Pact tattoo. Fortunately, there were a lot of entries to choose from and a couple that “broke the mould” of what I was expecting. I was then able to take my favorite to an artist I’d never used before and she added her own spin to it all. The whole experience was very freeing, and has opened up a lot of new ideas and avenues for me to explore in the future.

Sure, some folks think it’s dumb getting tattoos related to a game/hobby, but as I mentioned at the start, it’s a very personal thing, that will never be easy to explain. I have them, I love them, they mean a lot to me, so that’s all that matters really.”
Marlinward04 started in the hobby with a group of friends [that talked about the game endlessly, as I’m sure most of us have a habit of doing] in 2004, and has developed a fascination with non-loyalist factions – he has built an army of each over the years. He put it this way in his email: “I started with loyalists but it seemed so lame, then I started reading about these Chaos Gods and fell in love with their stories.”
As an extension of his love for Chaos he based his back piece on the art on the cover of the first CSM codex he used – with some tweaks, in the forms of the Chaos Gods’ symbols, to make it his own.
Another Chaos fan, Adam [aka Vashchel], has another take on the symbol. He had wanted to get a tattoo for awhile before he decided to go with the Chaos symbol from The Age of Reckoning. He went with the insignia to represent his fandom and himself – to represent the the chaos in we all have in our lives.
Like a lot of folks, he started in the hobby as a CCG player: “… I had just started playing a trading card game in a local shop. One of the days I went in everyone was playing Warhammer. I had never heard about it, but was instantly interested. I wandered over to the wall where the shop owner had models for sale, and saw the old style Daemonettes and wanted to get into Chaos [it was one army at that time]. I was actually persuaded into getting into Necrons instead because they were a more forgiving army. Eventually I picked up both Chaos Daemons and CSMs.”
Jennifer is a tattoo artist out of Sweden… with a little help from Google Translate I was able to ask her about the Ork tattoo she did for her brother, Fredrik, who is a big fan of the game.

The design is from Dawn of War. He thought it would it be a great addition to what will eventually be a full sleeve of game designs/art. In terms of the work: the tattoo was more of a “test trial” to show her skills while she was apprenticing. She told me: “I was only being given simple work to do, but knew that I could do more –  so I made ​​an attempt and think it came out really cool!” I have to agree… when I found the tattoo in an image search it immediately stood out.

She’s currently out on maternity leave, but will be going back to work late spring of this year. If you find yourself in Sweden, and you want some awesome work done, drop her a line on her DevArt page.


Do you have tabletop gaming ink, or maybe thinking about it? Share your photos, stories, and plans in the comments.

Note: The photo of the D20 tattoo was taken circa 2009 at the GW retail store in Victoria, BC.

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