In their quest for beauty, Brazilian tattoo fans are turning to the most unlikely of pretty faces: the death skull.
At Rio Tattoo Week 2016, billed as Latin America’s biggest piercing and tattoo convention, the image of death stared from arms, legs, necks, and most other body parts, not to mention T-shirts and posters.
Plenty of other designs featured at the three-day bash.
Disney cartoon characters, Viking warriors, Japanese geishas, roses, vines, and entire gardens were on show at the Rio convention center. Even old-fashioned Popeye anchors.
But inky death in various guises — grinning, grimacing, winking — was inescapable.
“It has become the fashion,” said Priscila Virla, 32, co-owner of Lady Luck, a tattoo studio which caters especially to women and which had one of the 250 convention stands. “The skull is one of those things that has really caught on, especially here in Rio de Janeiro.”
Some of the depictions of death carried in tattoo catalogues showed skulls horribly disfigured, screaming or dripping in blood.
But despite initial appearances, this attachment to skull images has surprisingly wholesome roots.
“For Brazilians the skull represents equality,” said Binho Fernandes, whose Thug Nine clothing and accessories line is big on all things skull-related. “People tattoo skulls because the skull unites us all.”