Duality Tattoos


Grimes and her friend Hana Pestle aka HANA got semi-matching Lord of the Rings tattoos in July 2018. Artist Delphine Noiztoy came over to HANA’s house to tattoo both of them with writing in J.R.R. Tolkien’s elvish language. This was HANA’s very first tattoo and she got the Gandalf quote “and all turns to silver glass” on her thigh. Grimes got elven script on three of her fingers reading “Contradiction / Be ready for war / No shields allowed” which is not a direct quote from the book series.


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Alexis Ren

Alexis Ren got the word “Duality” tattooed on the inside of her right foot during a trip to Barcelona, Spain in July 2017.  She visited artist Ese Black at LTW Tattoo for the simple inking and documented the process on her instagram stories.

She wrote about duality in an Earth Day post a few months before getting the tattoo:

You are a direct expression of the whole of the universe as it currently is; you (as everything else) is a brief movement in the dance of nature. You do not exist independent of the perceived outside; outside and inside are two sides of the same coin. (Duality)


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Julia Michaels

Radio host JoJo Wright arranged a date with Julia Michaels to get tattooed live on air on November 21, 2017. The iHeartRadio DJ brought one of his personal favorite tattoo artists Mikey Montoya to the 102.7 KIIS FM Los Angeles studios to tattoo him and Julia. Both of them planned their tattoos independently and they don’t match or even relate at all — JoJo got a Mickey Mouse/Jack Skellington mashup.

Julia’s tattoo says “protagonist + antagonist” representing the duality of life. As a songwriter she views everything through the perspective of stories. The protagonist is the main character in a story while the antagonist is someone who gets in the way of the protagonist achieving their goals. Antagonists can be evil villains, but they can also be ordinary people minding their own business whose own goals conflict with the protagonist’s. We are all sometimes the antagonist in other people’s life stories, often without realizing it, when we get a job or an award or even a boyfriend/girlfriend that they wanted for themselves.

She says that this tattoo “is basically me just embracing both sides of my personality.”

This tattoo marks the beginning of Julia began actively working on her second full sleeve. Up until this point the only tattoo on her left arm was the piano which she has had since 2012. But in the following months she covered her whole forearm.


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Jahan Yousaf

In July 2016, Jahan Yousaf and her sister Yasmine got matching neck tattoo which are half of a yin-yang symbol in a paisley style. Artist Bang Bang told Rolling Stone “One of them is gonna get a positive image. The other’s gonna get the negative. So they kinda match and go together. When they look at each other, you’ll see both sides.” The yin-yang represents the duality of opposites.

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Yasmine Yousaf

Yasmine Yousaf has a paisley design on her neck. It is half of a yin-yang symbol Taijitu - Small (CW).svg, and her sister Jahan has the other half. “We’re doing a yin-yang, but in a paisley style. We’re each getting fifty percent of the yin and yang,” Yasmine told Rolling Stone. The yin and yang is a Chinese symbol which represents the duality of opposite forces.

They got the ink done by artist Bang Bang, who has tattooed Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, and many other stars. “We’re big fans of his work, so it fucking awesome to be tattooed by him,” she says. She and Jahan both placed the tattoos next to their 6-8-10 neck tattoos, which is another matching tattoo that they share.

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Halsey got this tattoo of the Om symbol on her arm in August 2013 as a matching tattoo with her boyfriend at the time who was Buddhist. She told Noisey:

“It’s to promote harmony and balance, and I think I kind of need that. I’m a person of duality, for sure. I’m biracial—my dad’s black, my mum’s white—I’m bisexual, I’m diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and I’m a Libra, which means I’m the scales. So I got this as an attempt to gain some sort of harmony.”

Om is a spiritual symbol representing the sound of the universe in Buddhism as well as in Hinduism, Jainism, and other Dharmic religions. At the time Halsey saw her tattoo as a respectful tribute to these cultures, but now she has some concerns that it is an appropriation. In a private message to a fan @cherriesnwine she explained that she plans to cover it up at some point in the future:

“I got it when I was 17 with an ex boyfriend who was Indonesian and a practicing Buddhist. At the time (I was in love) I thought it was more of a cultural sharing experience. However I have full intentions of covering it up. For multiple reasons… Haha.”


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Marzia Bisognin

One of Marzia’s oldest tattoos is this yin-yang symbol in the shape of a sun on her upper back. The yin and yang represent balance of opposing forces.

In November 2014 she added onto this tattoo with planetary symbols going down her back, ordered by their distance from the sun, using this existing sun tattoo as in integral part of the design. (more…)

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Amira McCarthy

Amira McCarthy mandala arm tattoo

Amira McCarthy gave her own twist to a traditional mandala design by putting a yin-yang symbol in the center. The mandala is a symbol that represents the universe in both Hinduism and Buddhism, while the yin-yang (also known as a taijitu) is a Taoist symbol which represents opposites existing in harmony. Artist Archie at Hammersmith Tattoo did the tattoo in July 2014.

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