Salvador Dali Tattoo Inspiration

An Artist's Use of Symbolism

Spanish painter Salvador Dali relied on the use of object symbolism to portray thoughts, emotions, and fears into his important works. If you want to depict the same meanings behind some of Salvador Dali's symbolism in your own tattoo body art, take a look at the five most popular objects Dali used for creative inspiration.

Born on May 11th, 1904 in Figueras, Spain, Salvador Dali was a prominent Surrealist artist who depicted a dream world in most of his paintings before changing his style to classical and religious in the early 1940s.

While all of Salvador's styles are celebrated, his most recognized piece is "The Persistence of Memory" which features melting pocket watches and ants. Using symbolism to connect the dream world to a waking state, many of Salvador's paintings took on a dark and twisted approach which critics today liken to a possible undiagnosed mental illness.

At just five years old, Salvador's parents told him that he was the reincarnation of his brother who died just nine months before Salvador's birth. He took this knowledge very seriously and became convinced of its truth.

Salvador lived an eccentric life with many ups and downs prior to his death in 1989. His most distinctive pieces of art captured a maddening cycle of thoughts and processes perhaps likened to his interest in studying Sigmund Freud.

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Melting Clocks

The Persistence of Memory
Courtney Collison/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Depicted first in his famed piece "The Persistence of Memory," clocks served as a repeating object in Dali's work with the affiliation that time devours everything and that it's always ticking and melting away.

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Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man - Salvador Dali
oddsock/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Dali used eggs to symbolize love and hope in his works. From breaking out of the shell to the comfort of its inner surroundings, an egg tattoo can be quite a novel idea. Whether it be gilded, painted in a Russian motif or drawn cracking open, eggs are fragile and so is life. Embrace this symbolism and place your egg wherever you don't want it to break. The space on the chest above your heart may make for meaningful design inspiration.

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[ D ] Salvador Dali - Bureaucrate et Machine à Coudre (1933).jpg - Detail
cea +/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Not just a painter, Dali also created bizarre artful objects. Depicting sexuality, Dali first used a lobster in his creation titled Téléphone-Homard. This infamous phone was standard until Dali replaced the earpiece with a plaster lobsterIn a recurring theme of sexuality, the lobster also symbolized the old folk tale vagina dentata; in which a woman's vagina was rumored to contain teeth that castrate men. While not the most pleasing thought, the imagery of a lobster works well for anyone interested in the aquatic lifestyle or even the zodiac water signs, such as Cancer the Crab.

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[ D ] Salvador Dali - Velázquez Painting the Infanta Margarita with the Lights and Shadows of His Own Glory (1958)
cea +/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Drawers and step tattoos can have many hidden meanings. In Dali's work, drawers symbolized women's often hidden sexual desires and their concealment. Once the drawers are slightly opened as painted in Dali's infamous work, the secrets of their sexuality are revealed. In other words, out come the skeletons much like Pandora's Box. Step and ladder tattoos look beautiful on the back, consider working around your spine and make every step in life count.

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Space Elephant Statue By Salvador Dali, South Bank, London.
Jim Linwood/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

It is said an elephant will never forget. Carrying their burdens atop their backs in most of Dali's paintings, his elephants were tall and lanky and carried luggage of all different symbolic sorts. Depicting the future with the weight of the world on them, Dali's elephants symbolized strength and moving on. No matter what you are faced with in life, baggage need not define you. Carry yourself with a standard of grace and bear the weight of your own world and stay grounded.