Ten Album Covers Worth Tattooing On Your Body

Tattoos are about self-expression, making a permanent mark on yourself, using yourself as a medium to communicate art. And sometimes it’s about being a fan, but not every album cover is worth putting on your body. Here are ten that are works of art in of themselves, and worth etching into your skin.

This comes to us courtesy of Ink Master. To celebrate the new season of Ink Master, premiering Tuesday February 25 at 10/9c on Spike, the show is sponsoring Tattoo Bracket Challenge 2014. Think your tattoos can stand up to the best of them? Head over to the submissions page and submit a photo of it for your chance to win a trip for 2 to SXSW. Check it out:

And if you need a few ideas, here are ten to put on your skin.

The Velvet Underground And Nico, The Velvet Underground

The Album: Do we really need to explain why the Velvet Underground was great? Right at the height of psychedelic music, the Velvet Underground teamed up with Nico to take a brick to modern music trends and define an album by the influence it had instead of the sales it garnered.

The Cover: True, Andy Warhol’s detail work might scare a less experienced tattoo artist, but it’s a great tattoo not least because, if nothing else, you can argue that it’s quite literally art on your skin.

Run The Jewels, Run The Jewels

The Album: Killer Mike and El-P delivered a powerful collaboration last year, a tough, smart collection of hip-hop that was one of the year’s best.

The Cover: The image of zombie hands clasping jewelry is so simple, yet so vivid, it’ll provoke a response no matter what people think. Which is, of course, the entire idea.

Zonoscope, Cut/Copy

The Album: A slightly more poppy effort from the group, although it pairs well with the fact that they’re willing to let their songs sprawl more.

The Cover: What makes this a great tattoo is simply that it’s simultaneously apocalyptic and surreal, just understated enough that you have to look twice to see what’s off about it.

Illmatic, Nas

The Album: One of the richest and most emotionally complex albums of the ’90s, Illmatic took a while to be acknowledged as a classic. But it was a slow burn and its influence is undeniable.

The Cover: A good cover reflects an album, a theme we’ll keep coming back to, and this is so complex and rich as an image it makes a perfect tattoo.

Dr. Feelgood, Motley Crue

The Album: True, Motley Crue is not exactly the most intellectual of bands from the ’80s. But find us somebody who doesn’t at least secretly like most of this album, and we’ll show you a guy who’s a real drag at parties.

The Cover: If you’re going to go metal with your tattoo? Go metal.

Madvillainy, Madvillain

The Album: One of the greatest underground hip-hop albums of all time, Madvillain delivered something completely antithetical to radio-friendly hip-hop, with atonal songs often less than two minutes long.

The Cover: MF DOOM, in his trademark mask, delivering his best villainous glare. It’s like the album: To the point, harsh, but gripping.

Surfing The Void, Klaxons

The Album: Klaxons managed to avoid the “difficult second album” problem with their followup record, an attempt to do something different in indie rock that was largely successful.

The Cover: Even if you hate indie rock, you have to admit; getting a tattoo of a cat in a spacesuit on your body is something unique.

III, Crystal Castles

The Album: As you might have guessed from the arresting cover, III is a powerful album from Crystal Castles about oppression and the failures of justice.

The Cover: A real photograph, especially of a tragedy, is always a tough call for a tattoo, but it’s a good tattoo if you know the history behind the image and want to memorialize something important on your skin.

In Utero, Nirvana

The Album: Probably Nirvana’s most controversial, their last album is an abrasive, hard-edged step away from the polished Nevermind, and one that fans argue over relentlessly for or against the best album of the ’90s.

The Cover: Cobain used medical imagery to discuss how he felt “dissected” by the tabloid media and the music press. Hence the disturbing, striking image that graces this cover.

Paper Trail, T.I.

The Album: T.I.’s release from prison was followed up by this album, marking a return to actually writing out lyrics on paper, hence the title; it marked a comeback and T.I. has been selling albums without missing a beat ever since.

The Cover: It’s rare that a mainstream album cover has any pretentions to art; it’s often airbrushed marketing materials. That makes this album all the more vivid for its unique, physical design, and an eye-catching statement.

Any we missed? Let us know in the comments.