The first true wave of biker tattoos started in the 1940’s and became more prevalent in the 1950’s. While many of these tattoos were related to various biker clubs including the infamous “Hells Angels,” there were some that were not. This other class of designs included Harley Davidson tattoos. Harley Davidson tattoos have been, and continue to be, among the most popular tattoo designs around. In general, when people think of tattoos their first association is that of bikers and motorcycles—specifically Harley Davidson motorcycles. Harley Davidson’s logo has grown to be regarded as America’s symbol of freedom and the “open road.”
Harley Davidson motorcycles are unique in that most have been altered and customized by their owners. A Harley can be made into a very specific expression of its owner’s vision of what a motorcycle should be—it’s a one of a kind expression of motorcycle art. Much like the motorcycles themselves, Harley Davidson tattoos are also created to be original works of art. They generally portray the wearer’s individual expressions of love and respect for a biker’s way of life and also for this very powerful American made machine.
Symbolism of Harley Davidson Tattoos
Harley Davidson tattoos often carry a form of patriotism, since this company and its motorcycles are American made. These tattoos are highly symbolic of the Harley spirit. The company and their fans have cultivated their symbol to represent freedom, a rebellious brand of aggressive patriotism, and an unwillingness to be tied down by rules. Riding a motorcycle is often about a sense of liberation, and Harley Davidson tattoos adequately reflect this feeling.
Harley riders often create memorial tattoos as a tribute to friends or “brothers” who have died either in combat, from illness, or in a motorcycle accident. Memorial Harley Davidson tattoos typically blend the Harley image with the name, initials or birth and death date of the lost loved one and may also include a personal phrase or saying of particular importance. Often times these designs portray the loved one riding along the open road or off into the sunset on a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Harley Davidson tattoos are quite unique as far as biker tattoos are concerned. Even though these particular designs are commonly chosen by Harley riders, they are by no means restricted to only those individuals who own a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Harley Davidson tattoos express an appreciation for the lifestyle adopted by Harley riders. To many people, Harley Davidson tattoos have come to symbolize affection for the company that builds these amazing machines. Harley Davidson tattoo designs are often associated with loved ones and are commonly used to symbolize fellowship, brotherhood or belonging to a specific group.
Harley Davidson Tattoo Symbols
Harley Davidson Tattoos are commonly combined with images of eagles or eagle wings. These are typical symbols that represent the United States, and are often used as a part of the Harley Davidson logo. Perhaps the most popular “old school” Harley Davidson tattoo design consists of an eagle perched atop a Harley Davidson banner combined with the phrase “Live to Ride, Ride to Live.” Another popular design features the American flag, sometimes waving in the wind, along with the Harley Davidson logo, a motorcycle image, or even the image of a Harley engine. These designs are seen as symbol of patriotism.
The traditional orange and black Harley Davidson bar and shield logo is one of the most favored tattoo designs among Harley Davidson tattoo enthusiasts. This image makes a very bold statement about the wearer’s personal expression of freedom. Black and gray Harley Davidson tattoos are also a very popular choice and can be made to appear metallic and three-dimensional. Some of the most popular designs combined with the Harley Davidson logo include skulls, skeletons, roses, snakes, barbed wire, hearts and flames.
Harley Davidson tattoos are an obvious demonstration of passion for Harley Davidson motorcycles and are also generally representative of nonconformity and a love of freedom. In many instances, the number of tattoos a biker has is indicative of how committed they are to the lifestyle. For instance, weekend bikers typically have only a few tattoos, while an individual sporting a full sleeve, back piece or numerous tattoos covering many areas of their body reveals a more hard-core commitment to the biker lifestyle and the Harley Davidson mentality of “Live to Ride, Ride to Live.”
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