Whether it's part of the rebellious image or a part of their larger penchant for artistic self-expression, musicians have long been associated with some of the most intricate and boldest tattoos around. Music note tattoos, tattoos of instruments and artwork that commemorates particular successes or pieces of music have been perennial favorites among this subculture. Most musicians sport tattoos that rather reflect the genre with which they're most associated. This means that a lot of black, skulls and other cutting-edge symbolism is usually found on the hard rockers and that the hip-hop crowd tends toward ornate lettering and other characteristic symbols of urban culture.
Most musicians opt to get tattooed in areas where the artwork will be easily visible when they're on stage. For those who play instruments, this usually means the arms. As crowds are naturally drawn toward watching the body movements of a performer, this is generally a very logical place to locate one's most significant artwork and a good way to show off those tattoos, and not only music note tattoos, of which one is the most proud. Of course, some performers are notable for wearing less clothing than others and this certainly allows for more displaying of one's artwork.
As musicians are artistic individuals, they tend toward very ornate designs or adaptations of popular themes which they make all their own. Tribal tattooing, the long, elegant black lines which intertwine around one another, has been very popular with musicians, particularly with the heavy metal and rock crowd. Some musicians sport passages from their favorite songs or stanzas from poems with which they strongly identify. Oftentimes, a musician's tattoos serve the same purpose as many people's tattoos: They identify that individual as a member of a special part of society; and individual who possesses a particular skill and occupation which few can boast.
Music note tattoos have always been popular. One need not, however, restrict one's tattoos in this vein to the common forms of notation most frequently seen today. There have been various systems of musical notation used throughout the ages and, oftentimes, these systems present an elegant alternative to the norm. The notation used in early western music, for instance, evokes the ancient cathedrals where monks practiced Gregorian chant and can be transformed into a work of art that communicates a great deal about the individual who bears it. The notation systems used by non-western cultures are oftentimes works of art in and of themselves and make an excellent addition to one's body art.
Musicians will likely always be among the most tattooed individuals in society. Their occupation allows them almost complete freedom in this regard and while the tattoos musicians bear have evolved from simple India ink line tattoos to very detailed and colorful works of art, the association of the ancient practices of tattoo art and music will likely always be intertwined in some way. Whether it's on the arms, on the chest or even on the head, musicians are oftentimes the vanguards of new tattoo styles.