I've been meaning to do this for a while and finally had the time to do it. In a highly unscientific manner I punched "Shakespeare tattoo" into the Pinterest search engine, and started tracking what came up. Although there were a variety of Shakespeare images, in this case I was looking purely at the quotes.
Unfortunately if more than one person finds the same image and pins it, all those instances will show up, and it would be near impossible for me to do anything about that. So instead I factored it into the equation. The prevalence of a given tattoo doesn't just mean "More people have this one" it also means "More people *like* this one."
I learned that pictures of freshly done tattoos are pretty gross. Many of these showed people all red and swollen which I assume means they took the picture immediately upon completion. I also learned that people will tattoo pretty much anywhere on their body, and saw a fair share of nearly naked people with just a hand covering the bits that weren't Shakespeare. (Though it's not on pinterest and was not part of this study I remember seeing a picture of a woman in the bathtub whose Shakespeare tattoo was so high up her leg that I hope she married her tattoo artist afterward.)
In total I looked at 74 tattoos (or, as noted, re-pins of tattoos). I was surprised at how lopsided the distribution was. Seventeen of those (almost 1/4th the total) were unique - I found only one tattoo like it. I think my favorite may have been this one:
[ All images come from a Pinterest search on "shakespeare tattoo". I do not own the rights to any images. ]
Eight tattoos were in the category of "a few people have or like this one". Typically I spotted between 2-4 instances of each of these (in no particular order):
- "What's past is prologue"
- "To sleep perchance to dream"
- "If music be the food of love play on"
- "Hell is empty and all the devils are here"
- "Stars, hide your fires"
- "These violent delights have violent ends."
- "All these woes shall serve for sweet discourse in our time to come."
But then we get to the big winners. Two stood out as clearly more popular than the others. The runner-up, appearing 18 times in my list?
|"To thine own self be true."|
But the winner (appearing 19 times in the list)? Want to take a guess?
|"Though she be but little, she is fierce."|