Tattoo Designs: How to Choose the Right One for You!

Minimalist script tattoos using the symbols found on runes

Want to get inked but have no idea what to get? Browsed hundreds of designs but haven’t found the right inspiration?

Well, how about trying to do this a different way – what inspires you most? What do you really love that brings you joy?

When selecting your perfect design, ask yourself – what does this design mean to you?

Your chosen tattoo design could be anything from an animal that represents you to an object that reminds you of a memory, to a portrait or name of a loved one or a sketch of your favourite things.

What you choose as the subject of your tattoo is only limited by your imagination!

But sometimes, a little help doesn’t hurt! Check out our list of the tattoo designs to help you find your perfect tattoo!

Tattoo Styles & Designs

Arts

The arts have inspired people for centuries.

The creative inspiration that flows through the arts has given us some of the greatest masterpieces in existence.

Getting what inspired you inked is a fantastic way to carry that bit of inspiration with you wherever you go!

Antiques

Antique objects are beloved because they evoke a sense of nostalgia for ‘the golden ages’ of artistic expression.

These objects can be anything from boomboxes and cassette tapes of the 80s, to gramophones, telephones, and typewriters of the early to mid-1900s – or perhaps something even older!

An old school tattoo of an antique gramophone
An old-school gramophone tattoo
80s style new school tattoo of a girl and a vintage camera by Steven Carrera
Blackwork tattoo of an old radio

Love old-school but want to update it a bit? Check out this awesome tattoo of the Awesome Mix Vol. 1 tape from the Guardians of the Galaxy!

Remember the name - Starlord! GOTG Music Tattoo
Are we Starlords? Or are we 80s kids?

Architecture

With the development of the neo-traditional style of tattooing, artists began looking far beyond their usual subjects for inspiration.

For some, they found it in nature while for others, the concrete jungle was their muse.

Now, blueprints, buildings, and other architectural marvels have become quite popular as tattoo subjects.

Blackwork leg sleeve of a castle and towers by Thieves of Tower
A blackwork tattoo featuring East Asian elements, including a temple and a samurai, by Dark Arts The Tattoo Studio
Try something with a cultural flair by using Eastern elements in your design

Read more about neo-traditional tattooing at The Many Styles of Tattooing

Fine Art

The fine arts have given us some of the greatest pieces of art history has ever seen.

The earliest styles of drawing, painting, sketching, and sculpting – among various other forms of art! – continue to inspire us even today.

While they have inspired entire styles of tattooing, they also make for very interesting subjects – such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Dali’s whimsical surrealist pieces in tattoo form!

A microrealism tattoo of a painted plate from Fornasetti featuring operatic soprano Lina Cavalieri by Tattooist Yeono
A microrealism tattoo of a Fornasetti by Tattooist Yeono
A minimalist watercolour tattoo of surrealist painter Salvador Dali's piece 'The Elephants' by Bryan Gutierrez
A minimalist watercolour tattoo of Dali’s ‘The Elephants’ by Bryan Gutierrez
Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' in a watercolour tattoo from Mischief Tattoo NYC
Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ in a watercolour tattoo from Mischief Tattoo NYC

The best part about getting a piece of art tattooed is being able to customize it so it becomes a piece that’s uniquely yours!

For instance, ‘The Persistence of Time’, one of Dali’s most notable works, has been reimagined numerous times in tattoo form.

Dali's 'The Persistence of Time' as a watercolour tattoo by artist polyc_sj
Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Time’ as a watercolour tattoo by artist polyc_sj
Dali's 'The Persistence of Time' and Star Wars-themed tattoo from thetattooshop
Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Time’ and Star Wars-themed tattoo from thetattooshop

Artists

It’s not just the art itself that inspires – sometimes it’s the artists themselves!

Popular artists including Dali and Gogh are often the subjects of tattoos.

The master painters of the past, such as Michelangelo, as well as revolutionaries whose very existence changed the world, such as Frida Kahlo, are some of the most popular subjects for tattoos.

A blackwork geometric tattoo of painter and artist Frida Kahlo by Dark Arts The Tattoo Studio
Frida Kahlo from Dark Arts The Tattoo Studio

Books/Literature

Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Or perhaps Alice in Wonderland was more your scene? Or maybe your imagination takes you all the way back to Shakespeare or Poe?

Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven
Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’ as a script and realism tattoo

Getting the characters, a scene or location, a book cover, or even a quote inked is a very popular way to carry the stories you love around with you – so you never forget the magical journey that taught you so much!

A minimalist blackwork tattoo of the characters Harry Potter and his owl Hedwig from the Harry Potter franchise
A minimalist blackwork tattoo of Harry Potter and Hedwig
A watercolour tattoo of a scene from the animated film Howl's Moving Castle
Howl and Calcifer from ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’
A tattoo of panels from the Japanese horror manga Uzumaki (Junji Ito) by Ganesh of Kraayonz Tattoos
Panels from the manga Uzumaki by Ganesh (Kraayonz Tattoo)
A new school tattoo of the Ceshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland
Ceshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland

Culture

Are you a fan of culture? Whether it’s the aesthetic, traditions, or even cuisine of another culture you adore, you can get a beautiful design customized to express your love.

Tattooing styles like Irezumi and Tribal are extremely popular and often feature cultural elements and history in their designs. Just remember to be respectful when you take things from another culture!

An Irezumi-style tattoo of a Japanese dragon as a sleeve
A Japanese dragon in an Irezumi tattoo
A tiger tattoo done in the traditional Japanese tattooing style by master tattooist Kintaro Horiyoshi III
An Irezumi tiger tattoo by master tattooist Kintaro Horiyoshi III

Read more about traditional cultural tattooing at The Many Styles of Tattooing. For more on the history of these styles, check out A Story of Ink: Polynesia and the tale of tribal tattoos.

Some cultural art must be done by a master from within that culture itself, as these tattoos hold a sacred space in these cultures and must thus be done with the appropriate tools while maintaining the tradition.

Tatau using modern tools
Traditional Marquesan tattoos representing strength and courage, done using modern methods by a master tattooist from the tribe
Sak yant muay thai traditional tattoo of the tiger for protection and strength
Sak yant muay thai tattoo of the tiger, done by a Buddhist monk using traditional bamboo tools, without which the tattoo would not bring its wearer protection and strength

Check out Tattoos of Asia: A treasure trove of ancient cultural traditions for more on traditional methods and rituals used in tattooing.

One can, however, customize a design inspired by these traditional and cultural styles and combine them with other forms of tattooing.

Tribal tattoo using south Asian designs
Indian tribal tattoo, fusing Polynesian and South Asian elements, done by Birthmark Tattoo ’n’ Customs, Bangalore, India

Find more inspiration at Tribal Tattoos: Traditional and modern inks to inspire you!

Music

Music-lovers – we wouldn’t forget you!

Express your love for music with anything from album art of your favourite band to lyrics of a song that means the world to you, to a portrait of your favourite musician or even bits of sheet music!

A minimalist script tattoo with the lyrics 'Just stop your crying. It's a sign of the times' from Harry Styles' song 'Sign of the Times'
Script tattoo with the lyrics of Harry Styles’ ‘Sign of the Times’
Feel Good Inc. Music Tattoo
New school tattoo of the members of The Gorillaz
Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' Music Tattoo
A dedication to a lost loved one inked alongside Pink Floyd’s prism and lyrics
Queen's 'Radio Gaga' Music Tattoo
Blackwork of an old-school radio

Find more music-inspired tattoos at 10 Music Tattoos to Inspire any Music Lover

Gender & Orientation

In our ever-changing world, labels often change and grow to reflect the times.

Gender tattoos are often a very personal way of affirming one’s identity to themselves.

Whether you identify as the gender you were born as or not, whether you identify within the binary or not, and no matter what your orientation, tattoos are a great and often intimate way to remind yourself to stay strong and true to who you really are.

You are enough
Minimalist tattoo with ‘I am enough’ printed in Braille
Strength and beauty
Anchors represent steadfastness, strength, stability — and being trans in the modern world.

Find some more inspiration at 8 Trans Tattoos to Adorn Your Beautiful Self With

Hobbies, Interests, & Passions

Have a passion that you KNOW is your life’s purpose? Something you love more than words can express, more than life itself?

What could be a better subject for a tattoo than that!

Astronomy

Many people find the space to be truly magical – with all its mysteries and everything we haven’t discovered yet!

For some, it’s a love for astronomy, and for others, it’s a reminder of everything in this world that is both large and small – all at once!

Abstract and blackwork tattoos featuring planets, stars, galaxies and beyond are breathtaking – and definitely as magical as the worlds we are yet to see!

A minimalism fine line tattoo of a girl and space
Head in the clouds
An abstract colour tattoo of a Celtic dragon and space
Abstract Celtic dragon and space tattoo
A blackwork tattoo of the sun and moon by Sculp Tattoo Studio
Sun and Moon by Sculp Tattoo Studio
Small minimalist rocket and planet tattoos
Together, even when we’re far apart!
A blackwork back tattoo of two hands holding the planets on strings
We’re all made of stardust, just like the galaxy

Your love for astronomy could also feature sacred geometry, which uses geometrical patterns to depict the interconnectedness of all life – across the universe and beyond!

An ornamental fine line back tattoo using patterns seen in mandalas
Mandalas represent unity and harmony and teach us that we are a tiny speck in the vastness of the universe
A fine line tattoo featuring realism and sacred geometry
Fine line realism tattoo featuring sacred geometry

Party

Hey there party-animal!

Do you love a good scene? Are you always the last one to leave a club? For the life of the party, a party is full of life!

The joys of being part of a crowd, of the music and drinks, of good friends and good times are often what it means to feel alive – and also make for some great tattoo subjects!

A realism tattoo of a chimp partying in the 80s
80s party chimp livin’ it up!
A realism tattoo of a martini being made done by Hobo Tattoo
Shaken, not stirred!

A good time doesn’t always have to be a wild night out!

You can also celebrate the quiet evenings at home, sipping on some good tea, or maybe a soiree or kitty party is more your style?

An abstract tattoo featuring a cat and teacups
Anyone up for a kitty party? Don’t forget the tea!

Or maybe there’s a specific party you’d love to be at – like one featuring your favourite characters and friends?

A minimalism fine line tattoo of characters from Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh party

People

Do people fascinate you?

Are you someone that loves getting to meet new folks, or perhaps you find enjoyment in people-watching and learning about human behaviour?

Maybe there’s a specific person, group, or event that inspires you?

Whether you get a simple line tattoo or a hyperrealistic portrait, you have no shortage of tattoo subjects to choose from!

An old-school American classic tattoo of a girl sporting vintage fashion and hair
Old-school American tattoo of a vintage girl
A blackwork tattoo featuring an illustration of a girl smoking and a skull linework in the smoke
Illustrative blackwork tattoo of a girl smoking

Portraits don’t always have to be traditional though! You can spruce it up a bit with a modern style, such as a glitch tattoo.

A blackwork neo-traditional glitch tattoo of an ancient Greek bust
History is but an ode to the ones who came before us!

Photography & Design

If your passion involves a camera or a tablet, you’ll find there’s a world of stunning tattoo designs to choose from!

From abstract and trash polka designs to geometric tattoos featuring photos to hyperrealistic tattoos of cameras, tattoo designs using this subject are some of the most beautiful to look at.

And what’s great about them is they work in any style!

A minimalist linework tattoo of a camera on the wrist
Minimalist camera tattoo
An old-school American classic tattoo of a camera
Old-school camera tattoo
A watercolour linework tattoo of a camera
Watercolour camera tattoo

Tattoos also often use designs similar to what photographers and designers might create in their art, which means you can take what you love and combine it with all kinds of subjects!

A minimalist watercolour tattoo of a backpack done on the thigh
For the colourful traveler!
A 3D colourful tattoo of Buddha by Sunny Bhanushali of Aliens Tattoos
Abstract 3D Buddha by Sunny Bhanushali (Aliens Tattoos)

Sports

Cricket, football, golf, hockey, rugby, surfing, tennis….what’s your game?

Get the crest of a team inked, or maybe you’d prefer getting a design featuring the equipment? Rep your love for sports with the perfect tattoo!

A realism portrait tattoo of Sachin Tendulkar by Aatman Tattoos
Realism tattoo of Sachin Tendulkar by Aatman Studio
A realism blackwork tattoo of cricket equipment
Realism tattoo of cricket stumps, helmet, and bat
A sketch-style linework tattoo of a child and a football
Sketch-style tattoo of a child’s dream – to play football!
A hyperrealism portrait tattoo of basketballer Lebron James by Ganga Tattoo
Hyperrealism tattoo of Lebron James by Ganga Tattoo

Travel/Nautical

Wanderlust!

We’re all enamoured with travel. Some of the most popular travel tattoos include subjects like maps and vehicles – ships, boats, cars, bikes, and even hot air balloons!

Minimalist world map couple tattoos
Have a case of wanderlust? Grab your person and hit the road – to your nearest tattoo parlour!
A small minimalist wrist tattoo of a sailing boat
Sail away, sail away, sail away!

But travel tattoos also include things like swallows – confused?

Well, a fun fact about travel tattoos is that they have their roots in nautical tattoos, popularized by British sailors way back in the 1800s. And swallows symbolized sailing experience!

An old-school American tattoo of a ship and octopus
A classic old-school tattoo!
A blackwork tattoo of a compass and swallow by Birthmark Tattoo n' Customs
Nautical compass and swallow tattoo by Birthmark Tattoo n’ Customs
Realism blackwork anchor tattoo
A modern nautical anchor tattoo

Want to know more about sailor tattoos? Check out A Story of Ink: Where the art of tattooing began

Remembrance & Personal Meaning

Many people get tattoos to remember something or someone special to them.

This could be anything from a portrait of a loved one to a tattoo of a landscape to remember your favourite place or memory, or even a seemingly random object that actually holds a very special meaning to you.

Anatomical

Anatomical tattoos are realistic designs that use human body parts, including organs, as the subject.

For some, these tattoos are a reminder of a major life event, such as an anatomical bone over a body part you fractured during an accident.

For others, these might be more philosophical, such as anatomical brain and heart tattoos to represent the question ‘do you lead with your head or your heart?’.

A realism tattoo of an anatomical spine and fishes in an aquarium
Anatomical and realism spine and aquarium tattoo
A fineline tattoo of anatomically-correct heart and brain hanging on strings being controlled by puppet hands
Anatomical heart and brain tattoos

Food & Drink

It might be odd to think of getting food or drink tattooed, but they’re surprisingly popular!

For some, it might be a pop-culture reference – think Homer Simpson and a donut! – while for others, it might actually have a very deep, personal meaning, such as an icecream cone that symbolized childhood or a specific dish that you often shared with a special someone!

A tattoo of an animated loaf of bread helping a fallen slice back up
We all need a helping hand now and then!
A realism new-school tattoo of a three-scoop ice cream cone
No, we’re not kidding! Get an ice cream cone tattoo if you love it enough!
A geometric blackwork tattoo of a mug of hot black coffee
Anyone up for some black coffee?
A linework tattoo of a banana being peeled and a dolphin emerging from the center
If you’re a little quirky, you’ll love this dolphin emerging from a banana peel!
Friendship tattoos of characters from Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away
Share your mutual love for anime by getting matching Spirited Away tattoos!
Linework matching squad tattoos
Pinky swear – to stay BFFs forever!

Mom & Dad

One of the most popular tattoos that holds a lot of personal meaning is to get a dedication to your parents in ink!This could include their names or initials, birthdays, portraits, or symbols you associate with them. Of these tattoos, the ‘maa-paa’ script tattoos tend to be the most popular!

An Indian script tattoo with the words 'maa' and 'paa' which translate to mother and father respectively
Classic Maa-Paa script tattoo

You can also go with basic scripts and classic designs, such as an English ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ with an infinity symbol.

A simple script and infinity symbol tattoo
Mom-Dad Tattoo
A minimalist script tattoo
‘Made by mom & dad’

Want something a little different? Try a photograph!

A dedication tattoo using a photograph
Tattoo of a photograph

Portraits are also a very popular kind of tattoo for dedications to a loved one.

A realism portrait tattoo by Godwyn Moses of Inkadelik Tattoos
Portrait by Godwyn Moses (Inkadelik Tattoos)

Pets

Have a furbaby that’s the love of your life? Get a gorgeous tattoo featuring them!

A watercolour tattoo of a pet bunny by Tattooist Banul
A watercolour tattoo of a pet bunny by Tattooist Banul
A realism blackwork tattoo of a black dog by Sculp Tattoo Studio
Puppy love!

Nature

While old-school tattoos drew inspiration from pop-culture and the cultures that sailors encountered, tribal and neo-traditional styles drew heavily from nature and featured subjects from the world around them. Modern tattooing takes cues from everywhere, with nature being a prominent source.

An illustrative tattoo of lemons
Illustrative tattoo of lemons hanging on a plant
A minimalism tattoo of a lavender branch on a girl's ribs
Lavender tattoo

Animals

Probably the most popular of all subjects, animals remain a favourite across the tattoo industry. While for some an animal might hold personal meaning, for others each one represents something unique – a concept that goes back to the early tribal forms of inking.

A blackwork tattoo of a Chinese dragon on the back
A blackwork tattoo of a Chinese dragon
A realism portrait tattoo of a white tiger done on the bicep
The magical white tiger
An old-school American classic tattoo of a tiger versus a panther
Old-school American tattoo featuring a tiger and a panther
A new school tattoo of a pug wearing a crown and sunglasses
New school tattoo of king pug
A fine line tattoo featuring realism of a lion's portrait
Realism fine line tattoo of a lion
A linework realism tattoo of a cat on a girl's chest
Pet cat tattoo
A trash polka tattoo of a dinosaur skull
Trash Polka Dinosaur Tattoo
Read: Tiger Tattoos and Their Meanings

Elements

The elements have been used as tattoo subjects since the earliest tribal styles. While they represent nature, power, and the changing weather, each one also represents something unique – such as water for emotions and healing, and air for peace and serenity. Tattoo designs often combine the elements with other subjects, such as the sun or the moon and a night sky.

A blackwork tattoo of the sun and moon by Sculp Tattoo Studio
Day and Night by Sculp
A colour tattoo featuring an illustration of waves and the sun
Illustrative tattoo of sun and waves
Ariana Grande, Just Keep Breathin Music Tattoo
Find my way up into the clouds
Tune it out, they can be so loud

Landscape

Sceneries can often be so stunning that we can’t help but stop and stare. So naturally, they are a very popular subject for artists – tattooists included! Whether it’s a city skyline or a sandy beach that takes your breath away, it’s probably going to be just as gorgeous in ink!

Krishna Tattoo
The silhouette of Krishna’s hand around a might sky and forest
A chest to shoulder blackwork tattoo of a landscape by Sculp Tattoo Studio
Landscape by Sculp
A blackwork dotwork tattoo of a memory by The Pumpkin Patch
Dotwork Memory by The Pumpkin Patch

Plants

Trees, flowers, shrubs, seeds, fruits – so many subjects to choose from! The neo-traditionalists were particularly interested in flowers and featured them heavily in their designs. Floral patterns continue to be popular across many styles of tattooing.

A pointillism dotwork tattoo of a mandala-style flower done on the back
Pointillism tattoo using floral patterns
An old-school American classic tattoo of a potted plant
Old-school American tattoo of a potted plant
A new school glitch and silhouette tattoo of a rose
New school glitch tattoo of a rose silhouette

Political & Social

While some might shy away from topics like politics because they can get very controversial and even emotional, for some it is a very important part of their lives. Their views and beliefs shape who they are, and this can often make for some stunning tattoo art!

Army/Navy/Airforce

Whether you have served or simply respect those who have, a tattoo design featuring a tribute to the soldiers that lay their life down to protect their country is a great way to express your patriotism!

A blackwork realism tattoo depicting a battle scene
A tattoo depicting a battle with soldiers carrying their injured comrade
A blackwork realism tattoo of a soldier on field wearing a gas mask
Soldier in battle tattoo
A realism blackwork tattoo of airforce jets flying through smoke
Airforce tattoo
A trash polka tattoo in honour of soldiers who have died in battle
Memorial trash polka tattoo in honour of soldiers lost
A realism tattoo of a war scene depicting jets deploying soldiers onto the field
Airforce tattoo
A realism fantasy tattoo of an skeleton as an army man
Combine your patriotism with some classic tattoo designs!
A realism blackwork tattoo of a grenade
Army Tattoo

Community/Support

Are there certain causes you are extremely passionate about? Or perhaps you belong to a community and would like to represent your solidarity? You can choose from a range of tattoo subjects – from tattoos that show allyship to ones that represent mental health issues and struggles to ones that celebrate pride and the LGBTQIA++ communities.

Mental health minimalist tattoo of a semicolon in an arband
Semicolons tell us ‘the story isn’t over yet’, a perfect reminder to hold on when things are tough
Equality for all
Equality and pride

Pop-Culture

Biomechanical

The sci-fi genre has inspired us for decades – from Ghost in the Shell to Alien to Terminator! Within the tattoo community, the sci-fi genre inspired a new style within hyperrealism – that of the gorgeous 3D biomechanical tattoos, full with robotic body parts and metal gears and pistons that appear to sit just below the surface of the skin.

A hyperrealism illusion tattoo of a bio-mechanical hand
Illusion tattoo of a bio-mechanical hand
A hyperrealism tattoo of a bio-mechanical arm
Illusion tattoo of a bio-mechanical arm
A biomechanical hyper-realism tattoo of a skeleton by Sunny Bhanushali of Aliens Tattoos
Biomechanical skeleton by Sunny Bhanushali

Celebrities, Music, Movies, & TV

Who’s your muse? Whether you’re into Hitchcock and Tarantino or Disney and Nickelodeon, opera and classical music or RnB and pop, if there’s someone who inspires you or whose work you really enjoy – that’s your perfect tattoo subject right there!

A microrealism tattoo of Harry from Kingsman: The Secret Guard
A microrealism tattoo of Harry from Kingsman: The Secret Service by Tattooist Yeono
A comic-style tattoo of the characters from the animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas by Steven Carrera
A comic-style tattoo of the characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas by Steven Carrera
A hyperrealistic tattoo of comic and Marvel legend Stan Lee by Luke Cormier
A hyperrealistic tattoo of Stan Lee by Ganga Tattoo
A sticker tattoo of the character Blossom from the cartoon Powerpuff Girls by Luke Cormier
A sticker tattoo of Blossom from Powerpuff Girls by Luke Cormier

Comics & Gaming

If there’s a specific character or story that has moved you, or maybe a game or quest that excites you – put it in a tattoo design and express what you love!

A colourful cartoon-style tattoo of Marvel's Deadpool by Tattoos and Tales
Deadpool by Tattoos and Tales
A tattoo of panels from the Japanese horror manga Uzumaki (Junji Ito) by Ganesh of Kraayonz Tattoos
Uzumaki by Ganesh
A comic-style portrait of Ryuk from Death Note by tattoo artist Sameer Patange of Kraayonz Tattoos
Ryuk (Death Note) by Sameer Patange
A new school comic and glitch tattoo featuring the character Mario
Mario tattoo

Religious

Historically, the Egyptians inked religious symbols on the dead so that they would pass into the afterlife smoothly. It was thought that these symbols would give them important information once they were on the ‘other side’. Later on, religious tattoos were a way for individuals to escape persecution by identifying themselves as devout Christians and not Roman spies. Over time, tattooing religious symbols has become less of a symbol of devotion and a lot more to do with one’s own connection to the design.

Deities

If you love tattoos then you’ve definitely seen at least on Buddha tattoo in your life! Deities are often featured as subjects in tattoos for various reasons, including faith and devotion, a love for ancient tales, and even a feeling of being personally connected to a specific figure in religious texts. Be careful though – some deities must never be tattooed, while others are restricted to certain body placements, so be sure to do your research before getting a deity inked!

A half-sleeve colour and blackwork tattoo of Garuda by Birthmark Tattoo n' Customs
Garuda by BTNC
A traditional tattoo of the Christian Virgin Mother Mary in the Chicano style
Chicano tattoo of Mother Mary
A traditional sak yant tattoo featuring the Hindu deity Ganesha, beneath other traditional script sak yants
Sak yant tattoo featuring Lord Ganesha

Mythology

Mythology exists in all ancient cultures – Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and many more! These stories have inspired art for centuries, often told and retold to every generation by way of books, movies, television, and song. Which makes it understandable why these stories, characters, and mythological creatures remain a popular subject for tattoos!

Of mythological creatures, dragons in all forms tend to be the most popular.

A blackwork tattoo of the Egyptian serpent dragon Ouroboros on the arm
Ouroboros, from Egyptian mythology, is a serpent dragon and symbol of eternity
A watercolour Japanese dragon tattoo featuring a constellation
Watercolour Japanese dragon tattoo
A blackwork tattoo of the Chinese deities represented by the White Tiger and the Azure Dragon on the chest
The White Tiger versus the Azure Dragon tattoo from Chinese mythology
A blackwork realism midriff tattoo of a dragon with features described in Celtic mythology
A Celtic-style dragon

Religious & Spiritual Symbolism

Religion and spirituality are often at the core of our beliefs and values, usually playing a big part in how we were raised. The symbolism in these stories and scriptures often feature prominently as subjects in tattoos because of how much they shape us. Many tattoos use such symbolism, though sometimes they draw on inaacurate representations!

A blackwork realism tattoo of a dragon depicted as the Christian devil and featuring misused pagan symbols
A tattoo of a dragon depicted as the Christian devil featuring misused pagan symbols

Celtic

Celtic symbols are some of the most popular when it comes to finding personal meaning in symbolism. These designs feature interlocking patterns that appear to create ‘knots’. Besides these symbols, tattoos with Celtic designs also feature animals, each with its own unique meaning.

A blackwork tattoo of the endless knot symbol, representing the flow of time and movement, by Inkadelik
Endless Knot by Inkadelik
A red colour tattoo of the Great Red Serpent in a Celtic knotwork pattern done on the forearm
The Great Red Serpent in a Celtic knotwork dragon tattoo

Native American

While getting an actual Native American person tattooed is often considered offensive – because the designs are usually factually inaccurate! – there are many parts of this culture that are beautifully symbolic. Some of the most popular tattoo subjects are dreamcatchers and animal totems.

A minimalist linework tattoo of a dreamcatcher made from a half-moon
Dreamcatcher-inspired half-moon tattoo
Minimalist tattoo of animal totems from Native American culture
Animal totem tattoo

Traditional and tribal Native American tattoos are equally stunning but must be bestowed by a master tattooist from within the culture. So while it would be disrespectful to get these if you do not belong to the tribe, you can still find inspiration in the deep meaning behind them.

A traditional Native American tribal tattoo on the chin of an Inuit woman
An Inuit woman displays her chin tattoos which represent a connection with her culture as well as beauty, strength, and bravery
A traditional tribal tattoo of the Native American people done using a sewing needle and thread dipped in dye
Partially completed traditional Native American tattoo

Sacred Geometry

Sacred Geometry is a branch of spirituality that uses sciences and mathematics to explain life, simply by finding repeating patterns that exist across all living things. These patterns often make for some stunning tattoo designs, usually ornamental and abstract in nature. Some popular ones include the Fibonacci sequence, mandalas, and parts of larger patterns including the tree of life and the flower of life.

An ornamental neck tattoo featuring patterns from a mandala
Ornamental mandala tattoo
Mandala tattoo using a honeycomb
Honeycombs represent life’s sweetness, the heart chakra, warmth, light – even the cells of the matrix!
A minimalism linework tattoo using geometry to depict the Fibonacci sequence
Geometric tattoo featuring the Fibonacci sequence

Wicca

‘Witchcraft’ often gets a bad name due to its portrayal through TV and movies, but Wicca is actually an ancient spiritual art that has inspired much of the modern spiritual movements. Closely linked with Celtic subjects, symbolism from within the ancient craft including precious gemstones and crystals, symbols such as the Triquetra, and divination tools such as the Tarot or crystal balls are often featured as subjects in tattoos.

Minimalist linework tattoo of the phases of the moon
The phases of the moon
Blackwork tattoo of the triple goddess symbol
The symbol of the triple goddess – a moon flanked by two halves of the sun
Neo-traditional occult tattoo featuring Tarot cards by Steven Carrera
Minimalist script tattoos using the symbols found on runes
Runic symbols as finger tattoos
A minimalist linework and watercolour tattoo of a unicorn
Unicorns remind us to hope and dream, and are an important symbol for magic practitioners

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Know what you want to get inked? Head on over to jhaiho.com and book your tattoo appointment today!

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