After Euro 2016, an Instagram post by the team captain Aron Einar Gunnarsson got over 10,000 likes. It was a giant back tattoo featuring the national flag, and the country’s coat of arms, which shows the four guardians of Iceland.
The bull (Griðungur) is the protector of northwestern Iceland, the griffin (Gammur) protects northeastern Iceland, the dragon (Dreki) protects the southeast, and the rock-giant (Bergrisi) is the protector of southwestern Iceland, and by default, Reykjavík. All four are rumoured to be available as substitutes for Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrímsson.
The large-scale piece apparently took around a year to complete, and features a distinctive Icelandic mountain range in the background. We asked Aron to explain the design.
“I’ve been a tattoo enthusiast for a long time, and I had already gotten a few tattoos before this one. After the European Cup Finals in France two years ago I just wanted to do something special and uniquely Icelandic. The art is based on the official Iceland crest but it is a modified version where a few of the original elements were replaced with elements that are special to me. So in fact this is a deeply personal tattoo that I wear with pride. My friend and tattoo artist Gunnar Valdimarsson spent a lot of time on drawing it and once I saw the final version I was absolutely 100% that this was exactly what I wanted on my back.”