The alien is a cultural icon that dates back to the dawn of science fiction, erupting into American society most startlingly with Orson Welles adaptation of H.G. Well’s classic War of the Worlds radio program in the 1930s. Since then, an endless stream of aliens have appeared in books, television and movies, ranging from shapeless blobs to humans with an endless array of different facial structures. Alien tattoos have become increasingly popular in the years since The X-Files and other science fiction programs have introduced the mythology of Roswell and secret government cover ups into the collective consciousness. Various different images of extraterrestrial life have become popular for tattoos, but by far the most common is the ‘gray’ alien.

Seen above, the gray alien is characterized by its large head and eyes, as well as by the absence of a pronounced mouth, nose or ears. As the name suggest, this is a pale gray or white alien, and it’s most commonly associated with stories of alien abductions and visitations. The image of the gray alien is closely tied to abductions and it wasn’t until the 1980s that it became the default image for what an alien looked like. Tattoos of grays can be symbolic of an abduction experience or a belief in the existence of alien life which is currently visiting the earth. Alien tattoos may also be symbolic of a sense of alienation from life.

Another theme in alien tattoos is the biomechanical nightmare introduced by H.R. Giger in the movie Alien. Giger’s artwork has long mixed together mechanical constructs with organic images, and is a common influence for many tattoos, but his most famous work is without a doubt the alien. Tattoos of Giger’s alien are nearly always black and white, as most of the original artwork was, and often play off the image of the alien bursting from their victim’s chest. These can be quite graphic tattoos. Other variations on the the Giger alien include a fusion of alien and anatomy into a tattoo that begins like biomechanical anatomical artwork and grows into an alien.

While not as striking or disturbing as Giger’s alien, other famous alien’s from different television series or movies are also popular, especially aliens from Star Trek and Star Wars. Klingons, Wookies and Daleks adorn the bodies of many fans. Symbols and icons from alien races are also popular, with the distinctive tri-blade symbol of the Klingon Empire being particularly popular.

Alien tattoos continue to increase in popularity with the increasing acceptance of body art into the traditionally more conservative geek community. Along with the modern gray and Giger aliens, classical aliens from the sci fi B Movies of the 50s and 60s are also a popular variation on the alien in body art circles. The image of the alien is very significant to a growing number of people. Though it represents different things for different people, the alien image in body art is certainly here to stay.

Alien tattoo meaning