Every tattoo style has its merits, and most of them get the recognition that they deserve, but all too often the typographists of the tattoo world go under-appreciated. It’s a shame, but most people simply write off script as lackluster body art due to its disparity of illustrative qualities.
For those of us out there who understand the value of a punchy pair of four-letter words, these unsung champions of textual tattoos hold a special place in our hearts. While BJ Betts may have written the book on this style, one of the best tattooists specializing in making script today is David “Vandal” Ruiz. His lettering is some of the finest and most stylistically diverse around, and his alphabet-filled portfolio illustrates how a picture isn’t always worth a thousand words.
Alongside producing superb black and grey realism, Ruiz has earned a reputation for his incredibly clean script. He’s tagged countless clients with various phrases, acronyms, and even single letters over the course of his career. The fact that so many individuals have sought out his services is a testament to the value of this sort of tattooing.
Ruiz’s work shows how something as simple as a graffiti-style L and A on a person’s body can say a lot about their identity — like where they’re from and the sort of culture they grew up in — and a lover’s name scrawled out in elegant cursive can be the most important tattoo a heavily inked collector has. And we all know that nothing speaks louder than what’s written on a person’s knuckles.
The wide variety of letter styles that Ruiz renders is the most captivating aspect of his script tattoos. He has more typefaces in his toolkit than a word processor, and the coolest part about it is that it enables him to express his creativity through how he matches different typography with the meanings of his letters, phrases, and acronyms.
The fingers tattoos that read “SIN” are aptly set in a gothic type. The sketchy style of the head banger that says “Composure” ironically undermines the very sentiment of the term, and etc. Sometimes he even combines his realism with his love of lettering as seen in the killer Family tattoo with a hand throwing out a gang sign. He’s done some really unusual text-based tattoos, too, such as the one that looks like it's carved of stone that features elvish of all languages.