What antis get wrong about the tattoos.
I don’t think the tattoos are the biggest “clue” about the nature of Harry and Louis’ relationship simply because they exist. Because it’s true, a lot of people have a lot of nautical tattoos. And I don’t think Harry and Louis are in a relationship with the 3 billion people on planet earth who have a ship tattoo or a heart tattoo, generally speaking.
What sets Harry and Louis’ complementary tattoos apart are the intent, timing and placement of the tattoos.
Butterfly/It is What It Is
3 days after Louis began getting tattoos in earnest, Harry posted this photo of a couple’s tattoo to his instagram and said “Siiiiiick.“ He most likely found the picture, which is a picture of a computer screen, by googling “best couple tattoos” where he found a slideshow featuring this photo.
The exact same day as this instagram post, Louis reacted visibly to Harry when someone said the phrase “it is what it is” in a radio interview.
About 2 months later, Louis and Harry may have also made an inside joke about the “it is what ti is” tattoo in an interview before their American X Factor appearance.
So while they did not get the butterfly and it is what it is tattoos within hours or days of each other, this is enough to make me recognize that particular set holds some significance to Harry and Louis alone, as the others did not react the same way to the phrase.
And while it is is true that the butterfly and “it is what it is” tattoos were from a group of 7 sheets of flash Liam Sparkes put out in 2010, the tattoos were grouped together on the same sheet in the layout in which Harry and Louis got them tattooed: it is what it is above the placement of the butterfly on their respective bodies. Also, as I noted at the time the flash sheets were discovered, several of Harry and Louis’ tattoos were taken from these same 7 pieces of flash. It was not just the butterfly and it is what it is.
What sets those two apart is the references to Louis’ tattoos shared between Harry and Louis in the months before they got them.
Ship & Compass
They literally got these 18 hours apart at the same tattoo shop by the same artist in the same style and color. I don’t know what else you need me to say here.
Rope & Anchor
What sets these 2 apart is the placement. They did not get them close together. In fact, there were nearly 6 months between the two. But Louis got his untied rope on the top of his wrist on his right hand and Harry got his on the the top of his opposite wrist.
On top of this, the first time we saw Harry with the anchor tattoo was 11 January 2014, the same day we first saw Louis back in England after a long stretch of MIA days and Louis was wearing a shirt with an anchor on it.
Heart & Arrow
They got these tattoos about 18 days apart. And while they got them on different continents by different artists, they are again similar in style and color. [Also, Harry was with Louis at the shop when Louis got the arrow tattoo].
Rose & Dagger
This is the most interesting one to me. They got them over a year apart, so it isn’t about the timing (in comparison to each other). It’s about the placement. Louis got his dagger on the same arm in the exact same place as Harry’s rose tattoo, after a year of fandom discussion of Louis possibly getting a dagger tattoo to match the rose.
Harry and Louis’ tattoos set them apart from other members of the band and crew and general population. They consistently got complementary tattoos around the same time, in the same places on their body and have made references to the tattoos explicitly and implicitly over the years. While other people have many similarly-themed tattoos as Harry and Louis’, they do not share those components.
If Harry and Louis are so exhausted and repulsed by people thinking they are romantically involved, it would stand to reason that they would not get a series of tattoos to suggest otherwise. Louis/Liam and Harry/Zayn manage to get tattoos all the time and nobody seriously links them together, at least to the point it has to be constantly “corrected” a la Larry.
This isn’t about 1 set of tattoos. It isn’t about the “oops” and the “hi” or even the birds, which all have Larry theories behind them.
This is about the facts, which, when taken into account, indicate at the least a shared vision on some of their tattoo sets. Best friends and bandmates do get tattoos together, but they do not typically get a series of different and complementary sets that complete each other over the course of 3 years.