Honorary Blogger Rhys Ford: Tattoo Symbolism + Giveaway!


Tattoo Symbolism

by Rhys Ford

Well, I want to thank everyone for following the blog tour for 415 Ink: Savior! I’m going to use the same intro for every piece in case someone jumps in midway because that way everyone starts off on the same page. So if you’re joining midway, be sure to backtrack and catch the other posts because we’ll be exploring tattoos. Be sure to catch Savior, a second book in the 415 Ink series, on its release date of September 18!

This has been a crazy series to write and as much as I enjoyed it, it’s always a challenge to bring a fully fleshed character with very real problems to the page. I hope that when you read Savior you will fall in love with Mace and be with him on his journey as he in turn falls in love with Rob.

Since the tattoo shop, 415 Ink, is such a central heart of the series, I wanted to talk about tattoo symbolism very briefly because there’s a lot of opinions and cultural attachments to certain tattoos. What could be presented on this tour is just a small sampling of what people believe certain images mean and how they connect to the people who choose to wear them on their skin.

I’m going to say that tattoos are not for everyone but I do have a hard-core cultural association with them so I’m very fond of tattoos. I feel it is a very personal thing and should be taken seriously because you are going to wear it for the rest of your life. But, I also do believe even the tiniest flash tattoo means something to someone and everyone getting ink should be respected for their choices. Someone’s little flower on an ankle could mean their experiment into pushing themselves to fearlessness or capture memory of something they shared with someone. Not every tattoo needs to be huge or an artistic rendering of the Sistine Chapel. But they should have meaning.

I believe a tattoo should be a piece of yourself the inker draws out of your soul and embellishes on your skin. It should rise up from some part of you to realize its existence.

Much like love. And very much like falling in love.

So let’s talk about ink.

Traditional – Sailor Tattoos

Inspired by the ink they saw on the skin of the people they met on their travels around the Pacific, sailors began to mark their own bodies for luck and as badges of honor for milestones they’d passed in their journeys. The life of a sailor was dangerous, and the accomplishments they made had a great deal of meaning for them. Their tattoos were proof they’d sailed thousands of miles, crossed the equator, and survived storms and other dangers of the deep.

Norman Keith Collins aka Sailor Jerry had one of the first tattoo shops in the Western world, established many of the customary designs we see today’s flash art including: anchors, daggers, serpents, mermaids, and more. Collins has since passed away but his family and friends continue his Old School Traditional tattoo styles at Old Ironside, a tattoo shop that stands in the original spot of Sailor Jerry’s O’ahu shop.

Each had its own meaning. Some of the most common sailor tattoos are:

Anchor: An anchor placed anywhere on the body represented that a sailor had completed a voyage that crossed the Atlantic. It also was thought to bring steadiness.

Compass: A compass was so a sailor would always be able to find his way home.

Dice: A set of dice was often chosen by a sailor to show that he was a fearless risk taker. It was also chosen by sailors that enjoyed gambling.

Dragon: A dragon symbolized that a sailor had been to China.

Harpoon: A harpoon was a mark of having belonged to a fishing or whaling fleet.

Hula Girl: A symbol that signified that a sailor had been to Hawaii.

Lighthouse: A symbol of guiding light and protection against a ship crashing against the rocks. It was also known to represent home and shelter.

Mermaid/Siren: The call of the siren was a superstition. It was thought that the beautiful lure of a siren’s voice would misguide a ship, and cause it to wreck, or pull a sailor into the sea to find her where he would drown. Having a mermaid tattoo protected against the dangers of the sea.

Nautical Star: A nautical star was a popular emblem sailors would get to be sure they would be guided home safely.

Pig & Rooster: Both pigs and roosters were kept on board in crates that floated, so a pig on one foot and a rooster on the other was thought to protect a sailor from drowning.

Rope: A rope around the wrist meant that the sailor had served as a deckhand.

Rose & Dagger: Showing bravery and a willingness to fight, a dagger through a rose symbolized a fearlessness of conflict or confrontation.

Ship: A ship with full sails marked a sailor’s voyage around Cape Horn, which is where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.

Swallow: One of the most well-known of nautical tattoos, a swallow represented every 5000 miles a sailor voyaged. A swallow will always find their way home, and it was thought that the swallow would bring luck and mean that the sailor would return safely home.

Turtle: A hardback turtle was a symbol of passing the equator.

So there’s also giveaway! Enter to win a $20 USD gift certificate to an e-tailer of your choice which can include Dreamspinner, Amazon, Starbucks or any place I can send a gift certificate without having to sacrifice a chicken. Just follow the blog’s contest rules to enter!


About Savior

A savior lies in the heart of every good man, but sometimes only love can awaken the man inside the savior.

The world’s had it out for San Francisco firefighter Mace Crawford from the moment he was born. Rescued from a horrific home life and dragged through an uncaring foster system, he’s dedicated his life to saving people, including the men he calls his brothers. As second-in-command of their knitted-together clan, Mace guides his younger siblings, helps out at 415 Ink, the family tattoo shop, and most of all, makes sure the brothers don’t discover his darkest secrets.

It’s a lonely life with one big problem—he’s sworn off love, and Rob Claussen, one of 415 Ink’s tattoo artists, has gotten under his skin in the worst way possible.

Mace’s world is too tight, too controlled to let Rob into his life, much less his heart, but the brash Filipino inker is there every time Mace turns around. He can’t let Rob in without shaking the foundations of the life he’s built, but when an evil from his past resurfaces, Mace is forced to choose between protecting his lies and saving the man he’s too scared to love.

Available at: Dreamspinner Press & Amazon


About Rhys Ford

Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and is a two-time LAMBDA finalist with her Murder and Mayhem novels. She is also a 2017 Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Book Awards for her novels Ink and Shadows and Hanging the Stars. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.

She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Harley, a grey tuxedo with a flower on her face, Badger, a disgruntled alley cat who isn’t sure living inside is a step up the social ladder as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.

Rhys can be found at the following locations: Email, Blog, Facebook & Twitter.


Rhys is graciously offering a $20 gift certificate to any e-tailed of the winner’s choice!! The giveaway starts now and ends September 20, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just click the link below!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway, except to verify your Rafflecopter entry.

Don’t forget to check out Nikyta’s review of Savior to see what she thought of it!

Good luck!

Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , , , | 50 Comments

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50 thoughts on “Honorary Blogger Rhys Ford: Tattoo Symbolism + Giveaway!

  1. Al

    I’m about halfway through Savior now. I’m ignoring academic reading for this, and I have no guilt about it.

  2. All the symbolism is fascinating. Thanks for these informative & Interesting posts. And for writing such wonderful books.

  3. Pingback: Let’s Get Inked! Savior Blog Tour Stop #4! The Blogger Girls!! – Rhys Ford

  4. I love all the tattoo meanings! Thank you 🙂

  5. Laura05

    Congratulations on your upcoming release

  6. A local tattoo shop has a lot of Sailor Jerry’s style on their walls honoring the history of an old shop from that era. It’s interesting to look at.

  7. Kendra Patterson

    Love this info on tats. Really looking forward to reading this book.

  8. Trix

    I’ve been learning so much from these posts!

  9. bn100

    interesting info

  10. Johanna Jochum

    This one was cool. I always wondered aboit the old fashioned sailor tattoos. Thanks for sharing with us!

  11. James Robert

    Great post and I know I love having my tattoo’s. Thanks for the giveaway as well.

  12. Another interesting and informative post to add about inks. This is fascinating!

  13. First of all, please, don’t kill a chicken. LOL Second, this sounds damn good! Thanks for sharing and for the chance at this pretty jewel. The explanation on the tats was quite interesting. I wasn’t aware of any of the meanings. Much success to you, Rhys!
    taina1959 @ yahoo . com

  14. This sounds like a great book.

  15. Jennifer

    All this info on tattoo symbolism has been so interesting.

  16. Kimberly Curington

    Really am loving this series of posts, so much interesting info!

  17. Calvin fung

    Awesome, been a following of Rhys for a year now

  18. Shirley Ann Speakman

    I’m loving these post Rhys, the common sailor tattoos meanings are so interesting thank you.
    shirleyann2400(at) gmail (dot) com

  19. Ami

    Thanks for another interesting post

  20. Jambrea Gaff

    Thank you for all of this fascinating information on tattoos! I am loving it.

  21. Dan Dykstra

    It’s nice to know what the tattoos meanings are. My son and daughter have a tattoo.

  22. I do love lighthouses. Besides being afraid of pain, I just haven’t ever decided what tattoo I would want. I have always wanted one though. I’d say I’m taking it pretty seriously. I had an artist friend draw one for me about 29 years ago and I’m still thinking about it. Lol

  23. gamistress66

    didn’t know about the pigs & chickens on board, some make sense but some (like the turtle) make you wonder how that came about.

  24. Lee Todd

    oops….I seem to have a few tattoos that I haven’t earned! lol
    my dragon, compass and anchor are because the dragon is my Chinese zodiac sign and the compass and anchor are representative of the Cut and Run series

  25. Judy Stone

    Congratulations on your upcoming release of Savior. Can’t wait to read it. Your blog posts on tattoo symbolism are fascinating. I love learning new stuff!

  26. Lil Kitteh Soundz


  27. Thank you for sharing about the tarditional sailor tattoos!

  28. Great information on sail tattoos. Thanks for the links.

  29. Alaina

    Can’t wait to read this book! Thanks for the interesting post on sailor tattoos!

  30. Cant wait to read Savior.

  31. Congrats and thanks for the post. I’d seen these tattoos and it was interesting learning about what they symbolized.

  32. Pingback: Let’s Get Inked! Savior Blog Tour Stop #5! Love Bytes! – Rhys Ford

  33. Sue Becker

    This is really neat. I’m learning a lot about tattos, stuff I never even really thought about.

  34. kp

    Love this series!!

  35. Angela

    Congrats Rhys!! Love the cover and blurb

  36. AnnMarieF

    Very much looking forward to continuing the series 🙂

  37. I love the swallow tattoo to show always find way home. monet5280 at aol dot com

  38. This book was so good, I can’t wait for the next one.

  39. Pingback: Let’s Get Inked! Savior Blog Tour Stop #6! It’s About The Book! – Rhys Ford

  40. Lisa

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful stories about tattoo art history!

  41. Pingback: Let’s Get Inked! Savior FINAL Blog Tour Stop is at The Novel Approach! – Rhys Ford

  42. Loved this book.

  43. Jillian Too

    If I had a tattoo, it would probably include a turtle.

  44. Lisa

    Thanks for all the cool info on tattoos!

  45. Noah R

    Interesting blurb on Sailor Tattoos. Thanks for the opportunity!!

  46. Shelby M Norris

    Very cool to learn about the symbolism in tattoos! Thanks for everything!

  47. Daniel Dabbakh

    I love this stories

  48. Celeste Herrin

    Thank you for all the information! Now I know what some of these tattoos I’ve been seeing symbolize!

  49. Jenny Ham

    Symbolism of tattoos always interesting to hear the story about why someone picks the tattoo they do. Thanks for sharing

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