Nostalgic tattoos that take us back to happier times

Written by Things&Ink

Words: Alice Snape

When my mum and dad moved out of their house last year, I visited them to help clear out the garage. I rediscovered old ring-binders filled with A-level and GCSE notes, padlocked diaries filled with angsty teenage confessions, an ocarina I used to play, love letters from old boyfriends and gossipy notes passed to friends during classes. I loved looking through it all, the photos and books. So many boxes filled with memories – I revisited them all wrapped in a warm sense of nostalgia.

Alice Polly Pocket

My most prized childhood possession, though, was of course my Polly Pockets. I just adore those miniature worlds. Tiny people in little scenes. They still bring me as much joy as they did when I was a child.

Alice tattoo

I knew when I found them again that I needed to get a Polly Pocket tattoo and that Dolly was the woman for the job – I mean she sells her style as ‘obnoxious girly shit’. And she did not disappoint, my gorgeous tattoo is a pastel-hued dream come true. And when I got tattooed, we spent the afternoon chatting about our favourite Disney films, how weird we were as children and how the tattoo world can seem intimidating which is why safe spaces – like her private studio, The Dollhouse in Brighton – are so, so important. . .

Alice Polly Pocket

This tattoo is a constant reminder of happy times, which let’s face it, we really need right now… here’s some of our fave nostalgic tattoos, with stories from tattoo artists and collectors that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Bethan Hobbit House

“This is my Hobbit House by Sam Barber, I got it done in September 2014 when I just started my final year of uni. The first Lord of the Rings film came out in cinemas in 2001, when I was nine years old. One year later, it was New Year’s Eve and my mum had bought it on DVD and decided she thought I might not be too scared by it. She told me I was allowed to stay up until midnight watching the film. I was only 10 but felt like the most grown-up person in the world. I loved the film and whenever I hear the Concerning Hobbits theme, it makes me tear up in the same way that Harry Potter does because it's just imprinted into my child brain. Plus it's something that bonded me and my mum together.” Bethan

Paula Castle Sabrina

“So. Nostalgia tattoos. Honestly so much good pop culture came out of the late‘80s and ‘90s. Wholesome, clean fun stuff. So much teen based advisory type shows, like Sabrina, Clarissa Explains It All, Sister Sister! And the toys,remember the insane crazes that used to happen? I don’t think it happens like that anymore. Remember blow-up furniture and Groovy Chick? I suppose it makes me think of simpler times, before social media. I know I will absolutely connect with the clients who get these pieces. They’re my people.”

Paula Castle Clueless

Paula Castle, tattoo artist

Emma Midge tattoo

Emma Polly Pockets

“As I child, I was obsessed with Polly Pockets and I had a substantial collection, which I’ve kept into adulthood. I made the decision to get a Polly Pocket tattooed on my arm when I discovered one of the characters was called ‘Midge’, which is also the nickname my twin sister randomly gave me years ago. I approached the lovely Rachel Baldwin at Bold as Brass in Liverpool with my idea and boy did she deliver! Midge has a ginger bob, a chunky fringe and wears dungarees in a couple of the sets. Dungarees are a staple in my wardrobe too and while I don’t have ginger hair, I do have a chunky fringe. So I asked Rachel to tweak a couple of the details and the end result is a pretty uncanny version of me!” Emma

Phillipa garden

“My heart-shaped floral and bug thigh piece by Danibelle Ink means a lot as every element is related back to memories from my childhood, specifically time spent in my grandparents’ garden, or with my mum in my childhood one, or looking at my dad’s photography. These are the memories that come to mind immediately when I think back, and certain plants and bugs really hold meaning for me, so I wanted them included. It was a big task for Dani but she undertook it wonderfully. My parents are now divorced, and my grandparents’ house was recently sold, so I really wanted something that would bring it all together for me to keep close.” Phillipa

This article is written by Alice Snape, who is the founder of Things&Ink magazine.