New York Public Library Staff Reveal Their Meaningful Literary Tattoos

Book Quote Tattoos

Matilda-inspired tattoo on Emily Pullen, Assistant Book Buyer at The New York Public Library Shop

Tattoos offer an artistic way to pay homage to life’s passions. For the staff of the New York Public Library (NYPL), literature is their life—and they have the body art to prove it. A recent blog post on the NYPL website features a selection of staff members' tattoos that celebrate their favorite books, inspiring authors, and even now-defunct card catalogs. Each design is as different as their positions within the library.

The NYPL staff share the special meanings behind their book-inspired tattoos. Some honor their status as “book dork,” such as Emily Pullen, an Assistant Book Buyer at The New York Public Library Shop. Inking her Matilda body art cemented her status as a bibliophile. “Several years later [after getting the tattoo],” she says, “I wrote an essay about Matilda that helped me get into grad school for library science. Needless to say, she's been a source of inspiration for as long as I've known her.”

Scroll down to see some of these literary tattoos and the inspiration behind them. Want to get your own tattoo celebrating the written word? Check out some of our favorite book quote tattoos.

The staff of the New York Public Library shares some of their book-inspired tattoos and the meaning behind them.

Literary Tattoos

A celebration to working 21 years (so far) at the NYPL on an NYPL Library Manager

Book Quote Tattoos

Quote from a spoken word poem by Elizabeth Acevedo on Kaitlin Frick, Senior Children's Librarian at 53rd Street Library

Book Quote Tattoos

Shel Silverstein-inspired tattoo based on two poems in his collection, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” on Katrina Ortega, Manager for College and Career Pathways

New York Public Library Book Inspired Tattoos

VFD symbol from Lemony Snicket's “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on Atticus Sutcliffe, Library Information Assistant and Teen Services at City Island Library

Literary Tattoos

Stack of books on Sarah West, Children's Librarian at St. Agnes Library

Book Quote Tattoos

Quote from “The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman” on Michelle Vacchio, Children's Librarian Trainee at Aguilar Library

New York Public Library Book Inspired Tattoos

Butterfly tattoo inspired by this Maya Angelou quote: “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” It is on an NYPL Library Information Assistant

Literary Tattoos

Card catalog tattoo on Allie Affinito, Children's Librarian at Chatham Square Library

Book Quote Tattoos

“Always” from Harry Potter on Katelynne Lawson, Children's Librarian Trainee at St. George Library Center

Literary Tattoos

Quote from Markus Zusak's “The Book Thief” (film version) on Colleen Gibson, NYPL Social Media Associate

New York Public Library:  Website | Facebook | Instagram
h/t: [Neatorama]

All images via New York Public Library.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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