Tattoos and neography

Ian James
© September 2012

Tattoos are very popular nowadays, though have been used in traditional cultures as decoration for thousands of years. Some people like to have meaningful words as tattoos, sometimes in foreign scripts like Chinese, Devanagari (Sanskrit), Hebrew, Fraktur Gothic, etc. Sometimes though, words can look too ordinary or common. So why not use invented alphabets, which are unique and interesting in their own right? This is a selection from my invented scripts, chosen for their decorative possibilities. (Others can be found on the main Orthographies page.)

1 Constructed

These scripts are my own inventions. They all use a phonetic method for spelling, so words in almost any language can be transcribed. Here I present my own name spelt with each writing system.

New Maori uses motifs found in traditional Maori art and tattoos. My most popular script for tattoos.
Maui is a true alphabet, but the assembled syllables form shapes strangely reminiscent of marine creatures, or Polynesian carvings.
Xylphika was originally designed for a whispering language of elf-like beings. It can be adapted for use with human languages (if we are very quiet).
Fontok (the Thai word for falling rain) is a fully cursive alphabet. Unlike the other scripts here, it was designed primarily for English.
Darian has a tenuous connection to ancient Persia and Hermes Trismegistus.
Monto features light vowels swirling around consonants.

2 Ethnic

These scripts were designed especially for Southeast Asian languages, and so might be best for writing something meaningful in those languages. I can translate into Thai and Lanna (and Hmong if it’s a single word). But these examples just show my name.

Tai Anphabet (version 5.1) is an invention for the writing of Thai and related languages, using forms reminiscent of Tai scripts.
New Lanna is a slight revision of the traditional Lanna script of North Thailand.
New Mong is an invention for writing the hill-tribe language Mong (or Hmong).

3 Tattoo/image preparation service

If you are interested in having your name or a short phrase written in one of these scripts, I can prepare a high resolution GIF image of it ready for your tattooist, or whatever purpose you have. For this service I ask A$5.00 through PayPal.

Just email me at with your word(s) and which script to use, then click the PayPal button below, and I will email the image back to you once payment is confirmed.



All material on this page © Ian James.
Last modified Sep.28,2012