Most people see a piano and think that it’s just a musical instrument. Artist and musician Jonathan Miranda Sickmeyer had a different idea when he found an old upright piano on Craigslist. The thing was listed as free—the person posting it wrote that if no one wanted it, the 110-year-old piano was off to the dump. “All the keys were stripped of [their] ivory so I couldn’t salvaged any of it,” Sickmeyer recalled on Bored Panda.
In a series of expertly inked illustrations, Brazil-based graphic designer Will Jr perfectly pairs traditional tattoos of yesteryear with modern typography. Aptly named TypeTatts, his collection of body art designs convey both a nostalgia for the past and an adoration for today’s typefaces.
Each digital drawing presents a single letter rendered in a familiar font, spanning Helvetica, Garamond, Raleway, Playfair, and Futura. The characters are shaded in black and drawn in a way that suggests three-dimensionality, resulting in bold designs that appear to pop. In addition to strong type, each creation also distinctively incorporates tell-tale signs of old-school tattoos. Every letter is framed by floating floral motifs and draped with a billowing banner. While such pennants have been historically adorned with the name of a main squeeze or an homage to one’s mom, Will Jr has creatively used the space to honor another object of his affection: the typeface.
While, to some, traditional tats rendered in this motorcycle-riding, sailor-esque style may be nothing special, Will Jr admires them for both their straightforward aesthetic and the high level of skill required. “To draw something simple but at same time with a lot of details and ideas behind the concept blows my mind and inspires me a lot,” he explains on Behance. “Old school tattoos always show me the simplest and beautiful way to illustrate an idea.”
See the retro drawings and their real-life applications in all their glory below.