‘Divergent’ Artist Reveals The Secret Behind Those ‘Blood Tattoos’

Head of makeup department also reveals to MTV News what inspired those crazy designs.

Things might be kind of dicey in the futuristic world of “Divergent,” but in the movie, at least, one aspect is a hell of a lot easier: the tattooing process.

Yup, when Tris and Co. get inked in the Dauntless compound, it’s quick and nearly painless.

Brad Wilder, head of the “Divergent” makeup department, gave MTV News the scoop on how tattooing works in Veronica Roth’s dystopian world.

“They refer to them in the movie as blood tattoos,” Wilder said. “There’s a scene in there where [Tris] has a raven [tattooed] on it’s a patch that’s kind of applied over her collarbone and it looks like a kind of a hologram with a brightly colored light tube that runs to this device. Tori pushes that onto her collarbone and then within a few seconds pulls it off and there’s the tattoo.”

“Supposedly it somehow sucks the blood to the surface,” he added. “I don’t know. [Director] Neil [Burger] and everyone referred to it as a blood tattoo.”

For anyone who has ever sat in a tattoo artist’s chair, feeling the thousand-hornet-sting of the buzzing needle searing into your flesh for hours at a time, the above certainly sounds like a dream. (Who’s Dauntless now?)

Wilder and his team’s real-life application process was a little slower, however, but likely less painful.

Original designs — which were inspired by a ’20s art movement called Russian Constructivism and tattoo artist Nigel Palmer — were applied to paper and mixed with glue. Once dry, they were cut out and applied to skin cleaned with alcohol, soaked in water for 20 seconds, then coated with sealer.

Four (Theo James) sports an impressive back piece in the film — representative of all the factions — one that took three hours to apply.

“It was like a jigsaw puzzle,” Wilder said. “There were roughly 40 separate pieces, and then we’d basically start in the center at the top of his back and then work down to the outside.”

James, who likes jazz, would listen to music during the process, during which he had to stand — shirtless. Put your tongues back in your heads, fans.

What do you think of the “Divergent” tattoo designs? Which would you get etched into your own skin?

Brenna Ehrlich is a reporter for MTV News as well as the senior writer/editor for the O Music Awards. In the past, she served as associate editor at Mashable, penned a netiquette column for CNN and co-authored the blog and book "Stuff Hipsters Hate." She likes trying not to die in moshpits and listening to songs on repeat. Follow her on Twitter for news on cats and punk bands.
@BrennaEhrlich