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Scribomania: Sam Taylor’s Ornate Freehand Lettering

Scribomania: Sam Taylor’s Ornate Freehand Lettering

Tattoo Artists2 min Read

This artist is pushing the envelope of typographic tattoos by creating what he calls “hallowed Victorian” lettering.

Sam Taylor inscribes people with the slogans they live by in a unique style of elaborate black and grey lettering. His work stands out because of how many words he's able to pack into his pieces, a take on typographic tattoos that very few others can equal. He employs high contrast to create lettering that seems to shout out from his clients’ bodies. What makes his work so outspoken is his use of emboldened negative space. While most tattoo scribes shape their letters with dense black shading, he does the exact opposite, letting the dark backgrounds of his pieces push the unfilled text out at the viewer.

"Laugh with many but don't trust any" by Sam Taylor (IG—samtaylortattoos). #blackandgrey #hollowedVictorian #lettering #ornate #SamTaylore #script #typography

Script has a longstanding tradition in tattooing, championed by artists such as BJ Betts, Big Meas, and David “Vandal” Ruiz, but Taylor has taken this alphabetical genre to a whole new level by creating what he calls “hollowed Victorian” lettering. In this nuanced approach to textual body art, he mixes together varying gradients of black and grey to create the illusion of depth, giving each of his pieces the appearance of actual sorts — the metal letters used in typesetting. The three-dimensional property of his work is reminiscent of graffiti, but through the precision possible in tattooing, he has refined this eye-catching aesthetic into an ornamental form of bodily adornment. 

It’s not only the exquisiteness and complexity of Taylor’s lettering that makes it so impactful; it’s the sentiments that they convey as well. A phrase like “for those I love I will sacrifice” expresses something quite different than “not guilty.” His pieces tell the outward world a considerable amount about their wearers.

"For those I love I will sacrifice" by Sam Taylor (IG—samtaylortattoos). #blackandgrey #hollowedVictorian #lettering #ornate #SamTaylore #script #typography

To read more of Taylor’s beautiful Victorian script, make like the letter O and roll over to his Instagram. He is based in Melbourne, Australia and can be reached at for booking should you want the saying that best represents who you are inscribed on your skin.

Ross Howerton
Written byRoss Howerton

BA in Literary Studies from The New School. MFA in Creative Writing from NMSU. Staff Writer for Tattoodo. I love art, books, movies, music, and video games. Hit me up on Twitter @Powertonium

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