95 Great Tattoo Ideas for Men: Ultimate Guide (2021 Updated)

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Finding tattoo ideas for men is not always an easy task. First, you want to be original, right? No one wants a copy of some other guy’s tattoo! But it also needs to look great, so no terrible hand-drawn originals will make the cut either.

So, what should you do?

The solution is simple. Browse through our list of 95 great tattoo ideas for men. We’re confident that at least a handful (or more) will spark some inspiration! Use the table of contents to navigate to a particular body area or type, or just scroll through at your own pace.

Table of Contents

5 Large Tattoos for Men

Large tattoos certainly make a statement! Below we’ve found 5 amazing pieces of art in the form of large tattoos for men. There are a few things to remember, however:

  • Larger tattoos cost more!
  • They take longer to have tattooed.
  • They tend to hurt more.
  • They cost more to remove and they’re harder to cover up.

Make sure you find a tattoo artist whose talent and artistry matches the style of tattoo you want, too.

Detailed Sketch Tattoo

Detailed Sketch Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

With big tattoos, you can fit it more intricate detail. Painted, drawn and sketched designs can show brushwork and pencil lines, for a really cool effect.

Religious Chest Tattoo

Religious Chest Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Your chest is a good spot for a large tattoo – it also covers your heart and lungs, so it’s a good place to tattoo meaningful symbols.

Avant Garde Side Body Tattoo

Avant Garde Side Body Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The bright colors and fluid lines – what’s not to love? This side body tatt also works across your chest or vertically down your back.

Detailed Back Tattoo

Detailed Back Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The compass with meaningful quotes – a nice design. It spreads across your back, giving the illusion of a large tattoo… but it’s quicker to get inked!

Symmetrical Body Art Tattoo

Symmetrical Body Art Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

A piece of art and as large as large tattoos get. Flowing over both arms, chest and back, plus a sweet leg tatt as well.

5 Small Tattoos for Men

Small tattoo ideas can be just as awesome as large ones and equally as impressive too. Sometimes, less is more!

If you’re a little bit worried about the pain of a tattoo or don’t want to commit to a huge tattoo for your first time in the chair, these tattoo ideas are a good place to start. They can be placed anywhere on the body, but you’ll quickly see that some placements are more popular than others.

Bird Symbolism

Bird Symbolism
Credit: Instagram

Be free as a bird, soar to your goals, or rise new like a phoenix. Small bird tatts are simple and can go anywhere on your body.

Star Sign Tattoo

Star Sign Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Behind the ear, along your wrist, or even on your foot – a simple word or even star sign constellation is a great small tattoo with meaning.

Velociraptor!

Velociraptor
Credit: Instagram

Whether it’s dinosaurs, Star Trek, or cars that are your thing, a simple cartoon sketch of your favorite thing just above your ankle is a cool small tattoo.

Inner Wrist Anchor Tattoo

Inner Wrist Anchor Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Anchor in hope or replace the anchor with another meaningful symbol. A paw print? The sun and moon? There’s lots of scope for wrist tattoos.

Foot Smiley Tattoo

Foot Smiley Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The small smiley tattoo is incredibly popular with newbies who want a tatt without committing to something huge. Go for somewhere easily hidden, like your foot.

Read More: 32 Small & Unique Tattoos For Men (and What They Mean)

The 5 Most Popular Tattoo Ideas for Men with Meaning

These are the most popular tattoo designs for men, regardless of their size and placement. We’ve also listed their meanings, so you can create a hidden message or symbolize something important in your body art. Design a creative spin on any one of these 5 popular tattoo ideas!

Skull Tattoo

Skull Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The skull is a very popular tattoo. It can sometimes symbolize death and mortality – a reminder to live fully. Often combined with decorative roses or even serpents.

Lion Tattoo

Lion Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Pride, bravery, and protection. These words all sum up what lions symbolize. You’re the king of the jungle – let out a roar! Lion head tattoos are awesome.

Tribal Tattoo

Tribal Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Tribal tattoos aren’t just for decorative purposes. Originally, tribes used them to symbolize who you are, what you’ve been through, as well as add spiritual meanings.

Quote Tattoo

Quote Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Quote tattoos can be very literal. Be strong. Live life to the fullest. These are obvious. To give your quote tattoo a hidden meaning, use Latin or symbols.

Portrait Tattoo

Portrait Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

From portraits of your mum to celebrities you admire… and even pets! Portrait tattoos symbolize admiration and respect for the person you have tattooed on your body.

15 Tattoo Ideas for Men’s Sleeves

By sleeves, we mean either full sleeves that cover you from shoulder to wrist, or shorter sleeves that cover your forearm over.

The defining trait of a tattoo sleeve is that it encompasses around your arm, rather than just on one side. Tattoo sleeves can take quite a few sessions, particularly if they are very detailed. But of course, they look absolutely stunning when they are finished.

As you’re about to see, sleeve tattoos don’t need to be overly colorful and bright either.

Cartoon Style Sleeve Tattoo

Cartoon Style Sleeve Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

A distinct style that wraps around the full arm – without being 100% filled in. This design uses a select color palate to bring everything together.

Japanese Style Sleeve

Japanese Style Sleeve
Credit: Instagram

The samurai imaging, cherry blossom tree and dragon create a great theme and show how a sleeve tatt can bring multiple meanings together with one style.

Chicano Sleeve Tattoo

Chicano Sleeve Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The black and white effect makes this tattoo bold and grabs your attention. It’s not all bright colors! Not all sleeves are montages of images either.

Upper Arm Shoulder Sleeve

Upper Arm Shoulder Sleeve
Credit: Instagram

A cool sleeve idea that incorporates your upper arms, shoulders and chest. This tattoo looks great when you wear a vest and have well-defined muscles.

Animal Horizon Scene

Animal Horizon Scene
Credit: Instagram

Combining animals with a magnificent landscape is a great tattoo to wrap around your arm. It also gives you an opportunity to add some vivid colors.

Hannya Sleeve

Hannya Sleeve
Credit: Instagram

Flowing black and white imagery really makes a statement. You can fit in a lot of hidden detail and meaning with a sleeve tattoo idea like this.

Forest Scene Tattoo

Forest Scene Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

We love the use of muted colors amidst the black tribal-like lines of this tattoo. It creates a great scene and has a very distinctive vibe.

Colorful Artwork Tattoo

Colorful Artwork Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Mixing portraits with those abstract colors! A stunning piece of body art with Native American symbolism and bright shades. It really pops and catches your eye.

Arty Sleeve Tattoo

Arty Sleeve Tattoo
Saved Tattoo

A mix of quotes, music symbols and great artwork create a well-blended sleeve. This one is full of personal meaning for the guy who got it!

Old School Tattoo

Old School Tattoo
Saved Tattoo

That design of a scroll with words on it is very old school and vintage – but when you incorporate it into a sleeve with new designs…

Bold Sleeve

Bold Sleeve
Saved Tattoo

Sleeves are large tattoos, so don’t feel like you need to include lots of intricate details. The right color selection and a large, bold print is awesome.

Floral Forearm Sleeve Tattoo

Floral Forearm Sleeve Tattoo
Saved Tattoo

Who said flowers are for girls? They were wrong. This wrap-around floral sleeve tatt looks awesome on your forearm or upper arm. Small yet effective.

Hand and Forearm Tattoo

Hand and Forearm Tattoo
Saved Tattoo

Why stop at your wrist? Incorporate your hand with your sleeve tattoo, so it doesn’t need to end abruptly. We love how this design flows.

Don’t Forget Your Elbow!

Don’t Forget Your Elbow
Saved Tattoo

Many sleeve tattoos cover over the elbow, but some really unique designs center around it. Flowers, spider webs, and other circular designs are great here.

Intricate Tattoo

Intricate Tattoo
Saved Tattoo

If you like the idea of a sleeve, but don’t want any old stranger getting a glimpse, choose a design that needs to be viewed up close.

Read More: 

Half Sleeve Tattoos For Men: 30+ Best Design Recommendations

9 Best Fake Tattoo Sleeves 2021

10 Tattoo Ideas for Men: Arms

Your arms are a great place for a tattoo! They’re easy to hide under a shirt, but also easy to show off when needed. This section covers 10 tattoo ideas for arms, including your forearm and upper arm. Sleeves have their own mini section as they’re so popular!

Both small and medium sized tattoos look great here. The natural flesh and muscle padding in your arms means that the tattoo process won’t be overly painful either.

Black and Red Tattoo

Black and Red Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Bold lines, a single color and a simple design create a great arm tattoo. This one fits nicely along the forearm as a vertical design.

Landscape Scene

Landscape Scene
Credit: Instagram

The broadness of the upper arm makes it a great canvas for larger designs, like this artfully sketched seaside scene. It’s easily covered with mid-length t-shirt sleeves.

Small but Colorful

Small but Colorful
Credit: Instagram

This simple watercolor style tattoo doesn’t need to be huge to draw attention on the inner arm. The vivid colors mesmerize and allow great artistic detail.

Tribal Style Arm Tattoo

Tribal Style Arm Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Using tribal lines on the long, vertical section of your arm often results in really cool totem pole style designs. Bold black lines are essential.

Watercolor Over Outline

Watercolor Over Outline
Credit: Instagram

Combine the bold lines of line art with the bright colors of watercolor art – the result is a stunning tattoo style! Fish look particularly great here.

Symbolic Tribal Tatt

Symbolic Tribal Tatt
Credit: Instagram

A gecko to represent a past family member. What animal do you associate with family? This is a small and visible placement to remind you of family.

Symbol and Quote Tattoo

Symbol and Quote Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Okay, you don’t have to get a Game of Thrones tattoo, but the symbol design above a meaningful quote is a great arm tattoo idea.

Japanese Design Tattoo

Japanese Design Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Simple with classic vibes. What does this tattoo mean? Only the guy with the tatt knows! It’s a great style to copy if you want simple.

Skull Tattoo

Skull Tattoo on arms
Credit: Instagram

Another simple style, but a little more badass. Skulls are great tattoos and this placement is great for beginners, just under the elbow on the inner forearm.

Elbow Tattoo

Elbow Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Don’t forget the elbow! While the bone here would be super painful to tattoo on, the area around the elbow offers a great opportunity for awesome tattoos.

15 Tattoo Ideas for Men: Leg

Legs are a popular place for tattoos on men. Nothing is sexier than defined calf muscles and a great tatt. But you need to make sure you’re ready for some pain. Depending on the location, leg tattoos can be quite painful. The least painful place is around your thighs, while your knees and ankle joints are the most painful.

You’ll also need to shave your leg hair to get your tattoo, but don’t worry – it will grow back like normal.

Geometric Tattoo

Geometric Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Compass and travel type tattoos are great for legs – they tend to symbolize travel and finding the right path to walk in life… or just on vacation.

Simple and Clean Tattoo

Simple and Clean Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Clean lines, select bright colors, and a great placement. This wasp tattoo rocks. It’s definitely the manly version of the ladies’ popular butterfly tattoo design!

Large Skull Tattoo

Large Skull Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Skulls again! We weren’t joking when we said they were popular. This one covers the entire shin of the leg, which is not for the faint-hearted.

Leg Sleeve

Leg Sleeve
Credit: Instagram

A sleeve for your leg – a pant sleeve? It’s a great idea for prints that are too large for your arms. This one features Looney tunes characters.

Back of Calf Tattoo

Back of Calf Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

What do you see when you look at this tattoo? Illusions are cool in tattoos – but you need a very skilled artist to create one.

Also Read: Top 30 Calf Tattoo Design Ideas (And The Meanings Behind Them)

Traditional Rose Tattoo

Traditional Rose Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

This is a classic tattoo that looks great anywhere, especially arms and legs. Roses can be very simple or detailed, so it’s easy to scale up/down.

Psychedelic Tattoo

Psychedelic Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

A great example of a thigh tattoo. There’s a lot of symbolism going on here! Oh, and a totally wicked tattoo design as well.

Leg Quote Tattoo

Leg Quote Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

This is a cool take on a quote tattoo. You don’t have to use family, try a loved one’s name or the city of your birth.

Small Minimalist Tattoos

Small Minimalist Tattoos
Credit: Instagram

Minimalist tattoo ideas for men are really cool. Small tatts tend to look best near your ankle or knee, rather than floating anywhere on your leg.

Hyper Realistic Tattoo

Hyper Realistic Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The detail is impressive! Hyper realistic tattoo artists are highly skilled and can ink your favorite photos onto your skin with incredibly realism. Great for faces.

Decorated Skull Tattoo

Decorated Skull Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Another take on a leg skull tattoo. This one incorporates detail within the traditional black lined skull, adding more artistic expression without overcomplicating the classic design.

Snake Tattoo

Snake Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

This almost made our list of badass tattoos (see below) but it’s primarily a leg tattoo. Snakes are popular tattoo choices, and they curl around legs perfectly.

Large Geometric Tattoo

Large Geometric Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

There is something so pleasing about geometric lines – just like this awesome lower leg tattoo. The clean black lines, lack of color, and detail are excellent.

Elements Tattoo

Elements Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The elements that rule your life – a great tattoo! This one could go on your thigh or scaled down near your ankle. They needn’t be watercolor either!

Spirit Animal Tattoo

Spirit Animal Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

This side placement above the knee looks neat and isn’t an overly painful area either. What spirit animal would you get permanently tattooed on your leg?

10 Tattoo Ideas for Men: Shoulder Area

Your shoulders make great canvases for tattoos, particularly if you work out and have define muscle around this area. A shoulder tattoo could be on your back shoulder blade, along the top of your shoulder, or even flowing down onto your bicep.

Medium-large tattoos tend to look best here, with a few exceptions. It’s a great place to put an impressive tattoo if you don’t want to commit to a full back piece.

Tribal Shoulder Tattoo

Tribal Shoulder Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The key to this simple tribal tattoo? You need pretty well-defined muscles, as the tattoo ink really curls around the definition and highlights your natural strength.

Large Cat Tattoo

Large Cat Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

We admire two things about this tattoo – the artful way the shoulder is used as a canvas, and the single color to make the eyes pop.

Back Shoulder Tattoo

Back Shoulder Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Another tribal style tattoo, using the shoulder blade as a canvas for a cool circular design. This one can flow nicely into a tribal arm tattoo.

Fish Tattoo

Fish Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The front shoulder area, just above the armpit, can be a bit tricky. But this fish design fits the space perfectly and the watercolor style is awesome.

Yin and Yang Tattoo

Yin and Yang Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The circle design once again fits great in the shoulder and upper arm area. Fishes representing yin and yang, the ancient Chinese philosophy, flow well.

Jigsaw Tattoo

Jigsaw Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

A super idea to combine two images into one, with a jigsaw pattern. This one covers the upper arm and shoulder area, but it could go anywhere.

Armor Tattoo

Armor Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Armor can be a very meaningful tattoo – it signals strength and resilience. But it can also mean shutting something out or giving it the cold (armored) shoulder.

Line Art Tattoo

Line Art Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Simple yet elegant and artistic. Line art tattoos have that modern, minimalistic vibe that’s really timeless while still being a classic. This one will age well.

Spider Shoulder Tattoo

Spider Shoulder Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

A spider perched on your shoulder is equal parts awesome and creepy. If you don’t mind the creepy crawlies, this is a unique tatt to get.

Word Shoulder Tatts

Word Shoulder Tatts
Credit: Instagram

Our last shoulder tattoo idea for men is this cool design, with a word balanced on each shoulder. Pick a font and two words that matter.

10 Tattoo Ideas for Men’s Hands

Hands are a popular place for tattoos among men and women. On the palm of your hand, along your fingers, across your knuckles and flowing over your wrists. These are all great spots for a tiny tattoo.

There are a few downsides to men’s hand tattoos, however. As they’re in such a public and sun-exposed place, they will fade fast! Hand tattoos can also be quite painful over the bony areas.

Traditional Hand Tattoo

Traditional Hand Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

If you want to go all-out, this simple black design covers all your skin and draws attention. It can go all the way to your neck!

Neo Traditional Skull Tattoo

Neo Traditional Skull Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Colorful? Check. Skull design? Check. Perfect placement on the hand? Check. This is an awesome tattoo that shows great use of the thumb space too.

One for The Dads!

One for The Dads
Credit: Instagram

If you are the number one dad, this is a sweet hand tattoo to get. It’ll remind you of your kids every time you look.

Square Design Hand Tattoo

Square Design Hand Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

This square design fits nicely on the back of your hand, with clean and clear black lines. The symmetry of the emblem is really pleasing!

Small and Sweet

Small and Sweet
Credit: Instagram

A small tattoo here is easy to show off, but small enough to go unnoticed by most passing strangers. What small symbol would you get here?

Palm Tattoo

Palm Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Are you brave enough to get a palm tattoo? This skull design looks awesome, but you need to take care to stop it fading in the sun!

Octopus Hand Tattoo

Octopus Hand Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

A great way to play with the natural shape of your hand, making your fingers 4 of the octopus’s tentacles.

Drama Masks Tattoo

Drama Masks Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

So far, our hand tattoos have all be facing the owner, but this one puts on a show by facing the other way, towards your “audience”.

Side Hand Tattoo

Side Hand Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Along the edge of your hand, between your pinkie and your wrist, is a great place for small tatts. Short quotes are popular here as well.

Wrist and Hand Tattoo

Wrist and Hand Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Incorporating the wrist with a quote, with symbols underneath, is a neat way to blend from your full arm sleeve tatt to your hand tatt.

5 Tattoo Ideas for Mental Health

Tattoos for mental health are popular and deeply meaningful. Some tattoos are designed to be the same for everyone, to show solidarity for mental health troubles. Others are very personal and are used to symbolize a struggle you’ve been through or mantra you need to remember.

A good placement for your mental health tattoo is somewhere you can see it regularly and remind yourself to keep going. The forearm is a popular spot.

Here are our top 5 ideas for men’s mental health tattoos to get you started.

Semi Colon Project Tattoo

Semi Colon Project Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The Semi Colon Project is a beautiful thing. This symbol marks a pause, rather than a stop. It’s a reminder that the story isn’t over.

Serotonin Tattoo

Serotonin Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

A permanent inked reminder of the chemical that makes you feel happy! This is an excellent tattoo for any scientists struggling with their mental health in particular.

Live Tattoo

Live Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

A one-word reminder to keep going. Did you spot the hidden semi colon in this tattoo as well? This small tatt can go anywhere on your body.

A Tattoo with Personal Meaning

A Tattoo with Personal Meaning
Credit: Instagram

This full back tattoo is full of color and life, with plenty of symbols that hold personal meaning to the guy who got them.

A Quote That Resonates with You

A Quote That Resonates with You
Credit: Instagram

Maybe it’s a famous saying or a quote from your favorite song, like this tattooed shoulder line “Out from Under” by Britney Spears.

5 Small Badass Tattoos for Guys

Here are 5 great tattoo ideas for men that prove you don’t need a huge tattoo to be a badass! Small tattoos can be just as badass as big ones, depending on the design. We’ve selected 5 that we think are the coolest, but there are plenty more out there.

To prove how much of a badass you are, location matters too. Any tattoo on a bony area will prove that you can withstand some serious pain.

Face Mandala Tattoo

Face Mandala Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

It’s not so much the tattoo that’s badass, as the placement! Getting a tattoo on or near your face is a bold move reserved for badasses.

Neck Tattoo

Neck Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Getting fully inked like this is very impressive. The expression of the bird’s face is on-point and there’s no doubt that this is a truly badass tattoo.

Eye Tattoo

Eye Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Nothing catches your eye like a detailed eye tattoo. This one on the inside elbow would have been quite painful to get tattooed, but it looks awesome!

Switch Tattoo

Switch Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Not all tattoos need to be deadly serious. This F-off switch adds a little humor. We like that only people you walk away from will see it.

Bear Tattoo

Bear Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

We’ve seen many lion tattoos, but there’s something more badass and dangerous about an angry bear tattoo, growling at you from your leg or arm.

10 Tattoo Ideas for Your Partner

Getting the love of your life tattooed on your body is super romantic and a great way to keep your partner happy.

Roses, hearts and a great font for their name (or initials) is essential for these tattoo ideas. You can be creative, however. A symbol that represents your love is a good choice too.

Obviously, think carefully before you get inked permanently. Your wife of 20 years and mother of your kids is more suitable for a commemorative tattoo than your girlfriend of 2 months!

Elaborate Font Tattoo

Elaborate Font Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Even the simplest name looks elegant and elaborate with the right font. Choose your font wisely! Ask your tattoo artist to come up with several options.

Shoulder Name Tattoo

Shoulder Name Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The usual placement is over the heart or on the arm, but this heartbeat name tattoo proves that the shoulder is also a great place!

Upper Arm Tattoo

Upper Arm Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

This is a cool idea – get your loved one to handwrite their name or use their signature as your tattoo! The arm placement allows larger fonts.

Name with Hearts Tattoo

Name with Hearts Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Add a little embellishment to express your love and admiration. It needn’t be a huge beating heart, just a little love heart like this tattoo.

Initials Together

Initials Together
Saved Tattoo

This design uses both your initials and your partners in a heart. You could use both your parents’ initials instead, or your kids’ to show your love.

Heart-Shaped Name Tattoo

Heart-Shaped Name Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Using text to create images, or hiding text within images, is a neat way to honor your partner… but it’s not immediately obvious from a distance.

Initials Together Tattoo

Initials Together Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

Overlaying their initials is a cool way to create an entirely new and unique symbol that only has meaning when you know what to look for.

Matching Partners Tattoo Set

Matching Partners Tattoo Set
Credit: Instagram

If your partner loves getting inked as well, this is a cool option. Did you know that David and Victoria Beckham have matching tattoos too?

Couple’s Tattoos

Couple’s Tattoos
Saved Tattoo

Another matching tattoo set that only has meaning when you bring your hands together. This is a really sweet alternative to getting their name inked on you.

Infinity Tattoo

Infinity Tattoo
Credit: Instagram

The infinity symbol combined with your loved one’s name shows your eternal love for them (as getting their name permanently inked on you isn’t always enough, right?).

Still not finding a tattoo design that catches your eye? Check out all our tattoo guides here at Saved Tattoo!

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