Covid Tattoos Are Helping People Process Pandemic Trauma

People tend to get tattoos to represent ideas, moments, memories, and philosophies that are important to them. And, they also help people cope with trauma. No matter how you slice it, the prolonged lockdown and period of extended grief that was 2020 and the pandemic fit the tattoo bill. Even people who wouldn’t describe themselves as the type to get inked might need to get a tattoo to grapple with the ridiculousness of the past year. So, you guessed it: Covid tattoos are here.

Covid Tattoo Ideas
Photo by: Daniel Tafjord

Covid Tattoos: Why Are They?


Quick question: doesn’t everyone just want to forget about the pandemic? Don’t we all, collectively, want to never speak of this horror again? Wouldn’t the best thing be to implement a species-wide code of silence so that, once we’re all vaccinated and healthy, we can put this matter to rest? Well, actually, psychologists would say no.


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As lovely as it would be to move past this as soon as possible, the human brain doesn’t typically respond that fast and won’t move on until you’ve taken the time to heal and process what happened. Psychologists say that you have to make sense of something to move on, and tattoos can help you visually make sense of what happened. They can be a reminder of the progress you made and the struggles you’ve overcome.


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Using art as a way to heal is a longstanding method for moving past trauma. Depression tattoos have been helping people for a long time by allowing them to accept the past and move forward, and Covid tattoos are likely to do the same thing.


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Historically, Events Have Always Inspired Tattoos


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The pandemic isn’t the first world event that created a shift in niche tattoo ideas. After hurricane Katrina, there was a spike in storm-related tattoos, and many other life-changing circumstances inspired tattoo ideas before that. It makes sense, too. Certain moments are so monumental that afterward, you’ll never be the same. And a lot of tattoo enthusiasts would like their ink to reflect that.


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Covid-19 Tattoo Ideas

Everyone’s experience of the pandemic was different, and tattoos echo this range. Not all Covid tattoos are grief or depression related. Some are more lighthearted and harken back to the beginning of the pandemic when all we wanted was a roll of toilet paper, a mask, and a vaccine.


Some ink is filled with inspiring imagery, heroic medical staff, and other symbols of human strength that we needed in order to make it through.


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Tattoo artists say that the requests for Covid tattoos run the gamut, from plague doctors to masks and gloves to a depiction of the virus itself.

Some tattoos are more serious, in remembrance of those who have passed. For many people, the memory of the loved ones they’ve lost is comforting, and tattoos allow that memory to stay close, permanently.


Celebrities have already jumped on this bandwagon. Check out Zach Braff’s tattoo, for instance, of a fellow actor who died of Covid-19, which is a fun image of his friend dancing—proving that memorial tattoos don’t have to be downers.


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Whether or not you decide to get a Covid tattoo, this period of isolation has transcribed itself in all of our memories.  As a result, tangible reminders of the pandemic will likely be around for the foreseeable future in all forms of art—not just tattoos.


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