Your body is a blank canvas and the best tattoo ideas will turn that canvas into a work of art. As such, you want a cool tattoo design that emanates with both personal meaning and visual allure in equal measure. Barring laser removal, this is a lifelong commitment and one that shouldn’t be approached haphazardly…not that it’s stopped plenty of guys from strolling into the nearest parlour and throwing caution to the wind. A quick word of advice: don’t be one of those guys.
When it comes to the best tattoo for men, some blokes know exactly what they want while others need a little guidance. Decisions like simplicity, size, content, and location on the body play a crucial role. Do you go with a simple tattoo on your shoulder, dress your entire back in ink, or opt for something in between? How important is it that the tattoo reflects your individual identity?
Before putting yourself under the gun, consider the following 40 tattoo ideas for men. On the list, you’ll discover everything from minimalist designs to full-blown arm sleeves to men’s tattoos with meaning to just plain cool visuals. Without further delay, let’s turn some flesh into art!
Table of contents
- 1. Small Tattoo
- 2. Tribal Tattoo
- 3. Linework
- 4. Lion Tattoo
- 5. Wolf Tattoo
- 6. Owl Tattoo
- 7. Phoenix
- 8. Dragon Tattoo
- 9. Compass Tattoo
- 10. 3D Tattoo
- 11. Star Tattoo
- 12. Portrait
- 13. Lettering
- 14. Skull Tattoo
- 15. Religious Tattoo
- 16. Money Tattoo
- 17. Angel Tattoo
- 18. Music Tattoo
- 19. Arrow Tattoo
- 20. Feather Tattoo
- 21. Rose Tattoo
- 22. Crown Tattoo
- 23. Car Tattoo
- 24. Family Tattoo
- 25. Scorpion Tattoo
- 26. Meaningful Tattoo
- 27. Name Tattoo
- 28. Line Tattoo
- 29. Comedic Tattoo
- 30. Cartoon Tattoo
- 31. Logos
- 32. Family Crest Tattoo
- 33. Minimalist Tattoo
- 34. Sports Tattoo
- 35. Geometric Tattoo
- 36. Clock Tattoo
- 37. Tree Tattoo
- 38. Quote
- 39. Tattoo Sleeve
- 40. Star Sign Tattoo
- Locations of Tattoos for Men
- General FAQ
1. Small Tattoo
Micro or minimalist tattoos are all the rage this year. If it’s your first or second time getting inked up, a small tattoo is probably the smartest way to go. Consider getting it in an area that’s easy to conceal, especially if you’re striving for a certain tier of discretion. However, they tend to stand out on fingers because of the lesser surface area. You certainly wouldn’t be the first person to save his tattoo for those who truly deserve to see it. Whatever your choice, the design and body placement choices are limitless.
2. Tribal Tattoo
Tribal tattoos draw upon centuries of symbolism, tradition, culture, and masculinity. With their bold gradients and interweaving patterns, they also look quite cool. Should you get one, prepare to make a bold statement every time it’s revealed. This kinds of tattoo designs work best on the upper shoulder or chest, as is traditional.
Sometimes simple tattoos for men are the best ones. If you don’t want to overthink the whole process, opt for something simple and affordable and you’ll find the experience to be quite painless, relatively speaking. Linework designs allow you to show off something you love, without needing to dedicate an entire canvas to the piece. Look for those ones on your wrist, hands or upper neck.
4. Lion Tattoo
Animal imagery can convey loads of meaning and a lion tattoo is certainly no exception. For men, it can signify leadership, courage, and nobility, among other things. You’ll see a number of these classic designs in pop culture, with this option being a favourite amongst celebrities, most notably with Ed Sheeran like Justin Bieber’s tattoos.
5. Wolf Tattoo
A wolf is one of the coolest animals and it makes for one of the coolest tattoos, naturally. More than a choice visual, the mighty wolf symbolises ritualism, loyalty, guardianship, and instinct. This kind of design is generally seen on the upper arm, forearm or as a chest piece, as seen on celebrities like Halsey.
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6. Owl Tattoo
Being primarily a creature of the night, the owl conjures all sorts of ancient and mysterious vibes. They also represent infinite wisdom. With its close ties to the moon, an owl tattoo can also deliver subtle hints of feminine mystique. If you’re an enigmatic gent with a secret side, this might be the best tattoo idea for you.
If you’ve overcome harsh obstacles in life, the phoenix could very well be your personal symbol of choice. A mythical firebird with roots in both Greek and Egyptian lore, it rises from the ashes to signify rebirth. A common tattoo design for men, this motif has been seen across bodies for decades, just try and avoid whatever it is that Ben Affleck went with.
8. Dragon Tattoo
Is there anything a dragon doesn’t symbolise by this point? Whether you’re a fantasy junky or someone who just likes the idea of awesome fire-breathing creatures, consider becoming the boy with the dragon tattoo. These designs best suit arms, backs and chest areas.
9. Compass Tattoo
When it comes to top tattoo designs for men, the classical compass goes overlooked and underrated. It can represent the thrill of travel, the journey of life itself, or both concepts at the very same time. You’ll find this common design across arms, legs and shoulders as the symmetrical shape lends itself well the more awkward body parts.
10. 3D Tattoo
Cool tattoos for men don’t get much cooler than a well-executed 3D ink job. 3D tattoos transcend regular ink work and are considered their own art form. However, this is also a design that can go awry when left in the wrong hands. For that reason, you’ll want to seek out a truly skilled tattoo artist before going all-in on the optical illusions.
11. Star Tattoo
One of the best small tattoos for men, the star design is becoming more popular than ever before. Symbols of protection and guidance, stars represent the idea that you will always be looked after. Some also use it to remind themselves that they will always shine. This artwork works as either a standalone image or in accordance with a broader tapestry. The decision is yours.
One way to honour a special person in your life is by getting a meaningful tattoo portrait of his or her image permanently embedded into your flesh. Or you can take the Steve-O route and put a giant portrait of yourself on your back. Actually, it’s probably best you don’t take that route. Why? Because you’re not Steve-O.
The best lettering tattoos for men cut straight through the metaphors to exhibit direct significance and meaning. Unmissable in their appearance, they are bound to pique everyone’s curiosity. Just remember that the style of script, font and meaning matters as much as the letters themselves.
14. Skull Tattoo
Thanks to the creative talents of tattoo artists across the world, a trend that could have died out decades ago is going as strong as ever before. We’re speaking of the ubiquitous skull tattoo, which takes many shapes and forms.
15. Religious Tattoo
According to legend, Judaism and Islam frowns upon (if not downright forbids) tattoos as they as they are viewed as a mutilation of God’s creation. Ironically, many classic designs are born from religious themes too. Buddhism and Hinduism have given rise to iconic pieces like the Om symbol or the hand of Buddha. The cross tattoo, in particular, is a perennial favourite.
16. Money Tattoo
Money represents a fair few concepts like ambition, prosperity, wealth or even a stand against the power of the mighty dollar. A money tattoo definitely makes for a choice visual, which can make a powerful statement. If, however, you’re just trying to show off how much cash you have in your bank account, we can’t say we’re big fans.
17. Angel Tattoo
You don’t have to believe in angels to get yourself a quality angel tattoo, though it certainly doesn’t hurt (the belief, that is, not the tattoo). One of the best tattoos for boys or girls, the unisex design best fits large scale areas, so look for a back piece of chest design to make this one work.
18. Music Tattoo
Whether you’re a musician, enjoy a particular artist, or just enjoy listening to some tunes, musical-inspired tattoos provide a wealth of design ideas. Some popular choices include sheet music notes and iconic album imagery. The world of music brings forth an endless bounty of cool tattoo ideas for men.
19. Arrow Tattoo
It doesn’t get more straightforward than an arrow tattoo, which lends itself to various sizes and looks good pretty much anywhere on the body. Traditionally known as the hunter’s weapon, arrows also depict direction, strength and resilience. Perfect for those visionary men, arrows are symbolic for various reasons.
20. Feather Tattoo
Despite its somewhat simple veneer, a feather tattoo can offer layers of both personal and universal meaning. It’s no surprise that this tattoo design is wildly popular among modern men. Feathers symbolise many concepts – freedom, flight, lightness, courage and strength. The choice of bird for your feather does make a significant difference to the output, so make sure you pick a feather type which can portray your vision.
21. Rose Tattoo
You could probably care less about receiving flowers in real life, but when it comes to the best tattoo designs for men, a striking rose definitely makes the cut. Not only can it deliver rich colour and 3D potential, but it comes rife with symbolic associations. A design best popularised in traditional tattooing, the rose artwork has transcended all genres and is now a staple for those looking to get inked.
22. Crown Tattoo
Are you king of the castle and master of your domain? Then prove as much by getting a crown tattoo, which remains popular among men for obvious reasons. Depicting royalty, there are few other visuals which make as powerful a statement as the crown. Conor McGregor has one sitting pride of place, so if that’s good enough for you, go for it.
23. Car Tattoo
The bond between certain types of men and certain types of cars goes back to the dawn of automobiles and transcends mere description. Sometimes, only a tattoo will suffice. Well, that and the actual car. Whether it’s your first car, a reminder of a loved one, or you’re just an auto-head with a love for vehicles, car designs are born classics.
24. Family Tattoo
What better way to show love to your heritage, parents, or siblings than with the ever-popular family tattoo. With the family by your side, you can literally wear the love for your family and upbringing on your sleeve. Whether that means a portrait, phrase, symbol, coat of arms, family tree, or something else is for you to decide. This is a tattoo with meaning behind it, and the best thing is, you’ll never get asked what it means!
25. Scorpion Tattoo
With its sharp pincers and poisonous tail, the scorpion doesn’t exactly make for a welcoming or approachable image. On the other hand, you can always play up its astrological associations. No matter what, you’re getting a cool tattoo. Another great example of traditional tattooing at its best, scorpion tattoos have become popular thanks to their bold, black linework and solid shading.
26. Meaningful Tattoo
For men, tattoos with meaning can come in a variety of forms, including quotes, letters, and symbols. Should you be seeking a truly meaningful tattoo, make sure you have the idea solidified by the time you walk through those parlour doors.
27. Name Tattoo
Like the portrait tattoo, the name tattoo is one way to honour those you love. These tattoos make for a powerful reminder of your spouse, children, parents or siblings. Unless the name is your own—then you’re just a straight-up narcissist.
28. Line Tattoo
While it might look like a textbook case of style over substance, line tattoos can still serve meaning if you want them to. Alternately, sometimes a cool tattoo for men is just a cool tattoo for men, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
29. Comedic Tattoo
There’s no better way to show off your ability to come up with a cool tattoo idea than by showcasing some comic gold. You know what women say about a man with a sense of humour. Imagine what they’ll think if your tattoo makes them chuckle every time they see it. Just don’t go overboard.
30. Cartoon Tattoo
There’s a ton of common ground between animation and tattoo art, so a cartoon design already feels like an extension of that shared visual language. Nevertheless, choose wisely. You don’t want to get stuck with a Pickle Rick tattoo for the rest of your life, or maybe your do?
Logos generally tend to signify love and loyalty to a brand. A number of logos strike an artistic and symbolic accord, resulting in what could very well be a cool or ironic tattoo. There’s also a decent chance that some brand will pay you to rock their logo on your skin. Looks like you have some thinking to do.
32. Family Crest Tattoo
A family crest comes overflowing with choice details and a symbolic vibe. Splash one across your chest, back, or arm, to keep this ancient tradition alive. One of the more traditional options for those looking to add a tattoo with meaning, the family crest speaks to heritage, pedigree and family honour.
33. Minimalist Tattoo
Now more than ever, minimalist tattoo designs for men are trending, so much so that we dedicated an entire spread to them. When you want to say less with more, this is definitely one way to do it.
34. Sports Tattoo
Men love sports. Men love tattoos. You do the math. The sports tattoo is another visual which stands the test of time. Usually depicting dedication and support for a sports team or personality, the choice of design, colour and placement is endless.
35. Geometric Tattoo
Geometric patterns lay the groundwork for some truly stunning visuals and some of the best tattoos for men. Characterised by their distinct lines and shapes, geometric tattoos make for complex but artistic work. Worry less about the meaning and more about the aesthetic when opting for this kind of design.
36. Clock Tattoo
Symbolising time, the clock can convey the uncertainty of life and death. It might also depict that everything happens at the right time. To fully appreciate it’s design and depth, make sure you pick an area on your body that allows for the detail and intricacy to come through.
37. Tree Tattoo
Tree tattoos make for meaningful ink for those who have their roots firmly planted in some aspect of their life, especially family and ancestory. It is also a representation of growth and makes for a great story-teller. For placement, think of larger surface areas like the chest, arms or back.
A great quote can be life-affirming and occasionally life-changing. What better way to remind yourself of that great quote than by getting it inked into your flesh? To best showcase this work of wisdom, think of areas which allow the words to flow through seamlessly without any disruptions, like the forearm.
39. Tattoo Sleeve
If you’re getting inked for the first or second time, scope our small tattoo ideas for men and proceed accordingly. If you’re a seasoned tattoo enthusiast, on the other hand, consider going full sleeve! The sleeve is one of the best tattoo ideas on this list, that is if you don’t mind the multiple lengthy sessions with your artist.
40. Star Sign Tattoo
If you’re looking for a sign for your next tattoo, then this could be it. Literally. Astrological signs make for great designs and can be meaningful, often helping you remember a loved one’s birthday. Constellations, especially, can be displayed as stunning, clean linework.
Locations of Tattoos for Men
After much deliberation, you’ve finally decided on the best tattoo for you. Now comes the task of deciding where to put it. We’ve already listed out some possible locations like the inner wrist, neck, arm, and hands, but that’s merely skirting the surface. Here’s a more comprehensive list of possible male tattoo locations:
- Inner Wrist
Who knew the world of tattoos was so complicated?! Here are some common tattoo questions, followed by their answers.
According to some studies, men with tattoos tend to have more sex than their un-inked counterparts. However, other studies suggest that women don’t find men with tattoos to be necessarily more attractive, but more aggressive.
Minimalist or micro tattoos have dominated trends this year. Characterised by their smaller sizes, they are perfect for anyone getting their first tattoo or want to etch something memorable without drawing too much attention.
This is ultimately a question only you can answer. The tattoo should reflect your unique personality while also making for a choice visual. Often tattoos are meaningful and symbolic to individuals and we have listed tons of ideas to draw inspiration from.
Traditionally, you can expect to spend anywhere from $100-$250 for a small tattoo, $200-$500 for a medium-sized tattoo, and $500 and up for a large tattoo. Higher-end or specialty tattoo artists will obviously cost more than average tattoo artists.
Anywhere with thin skin or nerve endings (or both) is going to be a painful place to get a tattoo. The following places will be especially painful: spine, shin, top of foot, armpit, ankle, inner bicep, elbow, kneecap, back of knees, ribs, neck, nipple, groin.
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