“So shines a good deed in a naughty world,” penned Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice, and the lantern has long held a synonymous correlation.

The lantern is a provider of light, leading the way onward and pushing back against the darkness.

One lantern held by a single person can light the way for many, and it is for this reason that the lantern has found its way into cherished tattoo art.

Despite its many styles and sizes, the lantern is a universally recognized object–you know it when you see it. While the lantern tends to evoke images of miners and dimly lit caverns, it is also a nod to centuries-old storytelling devices, illuminating tales of both horror and hope. Sailors, wayfarers, and lighthouse and inn keepers have all hung their lanterns high to cut a path in the night.

There are many different lantern tattoo styles available, drawn to suit your individual interpretation of the lantern’s meaning. Traditional or neo-traditional tattoo styles are often employed by those with a nostalgic connection to the lantern, with delicate detailing and black and white shadowing.

For neo-classical lantern designs the colors may be more gradient and bold, with more inclination towards embellishment. Regardless of your preference, there’s no mistaking the man with a lantern tattoo; he seeks and is the source of light in even the darkest of places.


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