Man’s Ruin is the name of an iconic subject, one of the old favourites which has its roots in the origins of Old School.

In classic iconography it is generally composed of four subjects: a lovely, alluring woman, some elements which recall gambling (such as dice, poker chips, banknotes or playing cards) and alcohol (in the shape of a bottle of wine or spirits, or a goblet of champagne), accompanied by a skull as a symbol of death.

Vale Buffa, The Black Pearl Tattoo Parlour, Rho, Italy
Vale Buffa, The Black Pearl Tattoo Parlour, Rho, Italy

These elements stand for life’s pleasures, which should always be enjoyed in moderation…lest they lead to our downfall!

Jackpot, The Needles Tattoo, Seoul, South Korea
Jackpot, The Needles Tattoo, Seoul, South Korea

It is a warning but a celebration too, a paeon of joy and a dire reminder: Man’s Ruin is a subject which lends itself to countless interpretations and personalisations. In contemporary variations there are some elements which have never been seen before, representing vices which are associated with modern times (for example, the use and abuse of modern technology).