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Tatto artist tattoo for men

40 Best Tattoo Ideas for Men

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 life-long 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? By the way, is it true that men with tattoos have more sex? It is, according to a recent study.

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!

Here is the list of top 40 Tattoo Ideas for Men:

Small Tattoo

1. Small Tattoo

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. You certainly wouldn’t be the first person to save his tattoo for those who truly deserve to see it.

Tribal Tattoo

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.

Simple Tattoo

3. Linework

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.

Best Tattoo Ideas for Men - lion Tattoo

4. Lion

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.

Wolf Tattoo

5. Wolf

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.

Owl Tattoo copy

6. Owl Tattoo

Being primarily a creature of the night, the owl conjures all sorts of ancient and mysterious vibes. 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.

Phoenix Tattoo

7. Phoenix

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.

Dragon Tattoo

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.

Compass Tattoo

9. Compass

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.

3D Tattoos

10. 3D Tattoo

Cool tattoos for men don’t get much cooler than a well-executed 3D ink job. 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.

Best Tattoo Ideas for Men - star Tattoo

11. Star

One of the best small tattoos for men, the star design is becoming more popular than ever before. This artwork works as either a standalone image or in accordance with a broader tapestry. The decision is yours.

Portrait Tattoo

12. Portrait Tattoo

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.

Lettering Tattoo

13. Lettering Tattoo

The best lettering tattoos for men cut straight through the metaphors to exhibit direct significance and meaning. Just remember that the style of script matters as much as the letters themselves.

Skull Tattoo

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.

Religious Tattoo

15. Religious

According to legend, Judaism generally frowns upon (if not downright forbids) tattoos. Everyone else, go nuts. The cross tattoo, in particular, is a perennial favourite.

Money Tattoo

16. Money

As a symbol of ambition, a money tattoo can definitely make for a choice visual. 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.

Angel Wing Tattoos

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.

Music Tattoo

18. Music Tattoo

From sheet music notes to iconic album imagery, the world of music brings forth an endless bounty of cool tattoo ideas for men.

Arrow Tattoos

19. Arrow

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.

Feather Tattoo

20. Feather Tattoo

Despite its somewhat simple veneer, a feather tattoo can offer layers of both personal and universal meaning. It’s then no surprise that this tattoo design is wildly popular among modern men.

Rose Tattoo

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.

Crown Tattoo

22. Crown

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. Conor McGregor has one sitting pride of place, so if that’s good enough for you, go for it.

Car Tattoo

23. Car

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.

Best Tattoo Ideas for Men - family Tattoo

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!

Scorpion Tattoo

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.

Meaningful Tattoo

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.

Name Tattoo

27. Name Tattoo

Like the portrait tattoo, the name tattoo is one way to honour those you love. Unless the name is your own—then you’re just a straight-up narcissist.

Line Tattoo

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.

Funny Tattoo

29. Comedic

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.

Cartoon Tattoo

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?

Logo Tattoo

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. idea

Best Tattoo Ideas for Men - family crest Tattoo

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.

minimalist tattoo for men

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.

Sport Tattoos

34. Sports

Men love sports. Men love tattoos. You do the math.

Geometric Tattoo 2

35. Geometric Tattoo

Geometric patterns lay the groundwork for some truly stunning visuals and some of the best tattoos for men. Worry less about the meaning and more about the aesthetic when opting for this kind of design.

Hand Tattoo

36. Hand Tattoo

Feeling bold? By all means, ink up those hands and fingers! Or maybe just start with the fingers and inch forward from there. You do want to be eligible for employment, right? This kind of tattoo design requires a bit of planning. While script can sometimes work, you’re better off finding a symmetrical design that will complement the shape of your hand, rather than trying to squeeze in a tattoo with meaning in a tiny area. Also watch for fading, as this is a high-use part of the body.

Neck Tattoo

37. Neck Tattoo

It’s always risky when you get a tattoo above the neckline, but we’re not here to tell you where to tat. All we can suggest is that you go for something tasteful. If you’re looking to make a bold state, traditional colour can be a bit of overkill. For the most part, black and grey designs make the most sense as a neck piece.

Best Tattoo Ideas for Men - quote Tattoo

38. Quote

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?

Tattoo Sleeve

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.

Inner Wrist

40. Inner Wrist

Another great small tattoo for men, this inner wrist addition is like a personal reminder. For some stylish subtlety, get a pattern or minimalist image tatted onto the inner wrist area. You sneaky bastard.

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:

  • Sleeve
  • Knuckles
  • Hand
  • Shoulder
  • Chest
  • Forearm
  • Back
  • Leg
  • Inner Wrist
  • Stomach
  • Ankle
  • Rib
  • Neck
  • Face

General FAQ

Who knew the world of tattoos was so complicated?! Here are some common tattoo questions, followed by their answers.

Do people find tattoos attractive?

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.

Are ankle tattoos for guys?

Continuing to gain in popularity, ankle tattoos are suitable for guys and gals alike.

How do you decide what tattoo you want?

This is ultimately a question only you can answer. The tattoo should reflect your unique personality while also making for a choice visual.

How much will my tattoo cost?

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.

Where is the most painful place to get a tattoo?

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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50+ Minimalist Tattoo Ideas That Prove Less is More
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About the author

About the author
STAFF WRITER

Jacob Osborn

Jacob Osborn is an accomplished author and journalist with over 10 years of experience in the media industry. Jacob holds a Bachelor's degree in English and Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin--Madison and has previously written for Stacker alongside co-authoring a Young Adult novel through Simon & Schuster. Now based in Portland, Oregon, Jacob specialises in entertainment, technology and alcohol reporting. You might find him crate-digging at the nearest record store or sampling whisky at the nearest bar. He daydreams of travelling around the world, but for now, the world will have to come to him by way of lifestyle products, gear, gadgetry, and entertainment. Let's call it a happy compromise while he saves up for the next big trip.