Gang tattoos are often used by members of a particular group to show their loyalty and membership in a gang. Gang tattoos can also represent the individual gang member’s personal life choices and accomplishment that he may have achieved in the gang. These tattoos can also represent an individual gang member’s particular area of specialty. Usually these tattoos are encoded so that they can only be identified by members of that gang and are often considered badges of honor.
Most gangs have tattoos that are unique to them and they look down on anyone who isn’t a member wearing their badge. This is often considered a sign of disrespect. The second reason to learn how to identify the particular tattoos is to know whom you should avoid.
Different gangs have different tattoos. Hispanic gangs tend to have a lot of religiously oriented body art. White supremacist gangs may use swastikas and iron crosses. African American gangs may use letters and numbers. Japanese gangs may use circles around the arm. Each of these circles represents a crime that the individual has committed. There are a number of other gang tattoos, but this list should get you started on your research.
A lot of gang tattoos feature either the name of a particular gang (usually done in a surprisingly stylish script), numbers, or more indirect ways of identifying their affiliations. An example of this would be to use the area code of a gang’s home town or a numbered street name. Many gangs also like to use numbers that are associated specifically with them; this style may use the simple number in a variety of fonts, it may use roman numerals, words or even foreign translations.
Many gang tattoos are heavily detailed, as these pieces of art are not only meant to represent their gang affiliations, but who they are as individuals. These pieces are generally a large amalgamation of gang names, small symbols that represent accomplishments within their group, and more personal items such as memorials to loved ones; religious and cultural ties, and sometimes the names of their children. Other symbols that express something powerful may also be seen in these gang tattoos such as clock faces, tombstones and surprisingly, even the comedy and tragedy masks.
Gang tattoos are meant to represent the reality of a member’s every day life. Although it may seem tough to get this variety of tattoo, there is a distinct possibility that sporting one of these pieces may get you into some trouble. Not to mention that most of these designs are seen as something that are not simply cool or even fashionable, but hard earned emblems of an often difficult existence.