The Art of Writing on Skin

People use any and all mediums to write: computers, paper and pen, papyrus, stone engravings, wet sand.

Ariana Page Russell writes on her skin:

I have dermatographia, a condition in which one’s immune system exhibits hypersensitivity, via skin, that releases excessive amounts of histamine, causing capillaries to dilate and welts to appear (lasting about thirty minutes) when the skin’s surface is lightly scratched.

This allows me to painlessly draw patterns and words on my skin, which I then photograph.

The words/welts on Russell’s skin look like they should have hurt, even though she states it’s a painless process.

It’s a fascinating combination of art mediums that turns the written word into something beautiful, intimate and disturbing, all at the same time.

Click through to view the full post on the blog to see the photograph.

Skin Writing

I’ve never seen anything like what she’s able to create.

It reminds me of Sugar’s skin problem in The Crimson Petal and the White. This was an excellent historical novel about a well-read 19th century London prostitute – in case you’re looking for something to read.

(Ectoplasmosis Blog deserves the credit for pointing me towards Russell’s artwork.)

What do you think of her chosen art medium?


About Jamie Thornton

I am a voracious reader in many genres. I do sometimes judge a book by its cover art. Life is too short to spend time reading or reviewing bad books. My own published novels are full of adventure, danger, and complicated characters. I call Northern California home. I graduated from UCLA with a degree in Anthropology and belong to the Wordforge writing group. I live, rather happily, with my husband, dog, a garden, a viola and a bicycle. Check out my short stories and novels at

One response to “The Art of Writing on Skin

  1. Wow, this is fascinatingly beautiful and disturbing. Reading the description made think of Pillow Book at first, but then when I clicked to see the picture to see it is just…powerful.

    And an interesting way to make something beautiful from the self and a condition that could be seen as detrimental.

    Great post.

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