Skull tattoos can be incorporated into an existing tattoo design or stand on their own as impressive works of art. Skulls can have many different meanings, so many people pair skull tattoo with other objects to convey their target idea. On their own, skulls can symbolize the afterlife, inner soul, ancestral wisdom or danger. Skull tattoos are often paired with roses or hearts. This pairing symbolizes love or passion until death. Some skull tattoos are paired with butterflies to contrast the delicacy of life with the permanence of death. In Hispanic cultures that celebrate the Day of the Dead, a skull tattoo may represent a lost loved one through traditional Hispanic skull style.
These skulls are sometimes called sugar skulls because of the resemblance they have to candy skulls sold for the Day of the Dead holiday. Sometimes, skulls in tattoos are depicted with tears to represent sadness or loss. On their own, skull tattoos can be used to symbolize rebellion similar to the skulls on flags of pirate ships. Some skulls are depicted with American flags to symbolize freedom or the saying, "Give me liberty of give me death." Skulls require the tattoo artist to have excellent texturing skills so that the bones appear realistic. Overall, skull tattoos represent the fragility and fleetingness of life on earth and remind the wearer not to take anything in this life for granted. Popular placement for skull tattoos includes the upper shoulder and calf, because the curvature of these body parts can help the skull appear more realistic and three-dimensional:
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