Looking for some cool or new tattoo ideas for men before you go ahead and waltz on into a tattoo parlour? A wise choice.
Now that you’re too old for tattoo transfers, contemplating the decision to get a genuine tattoo isn’t one that men should take lightly. While tattoo removal technology is improving all the time, a tattoo is for life (not just for Christmas, lol) so you need to make sure you’re one hundred percent happy with your chosen design.
If you’re looking for ideas for your first tattoo then perhaps something small and minimalistic will be the best option for you. It’s entirely up to you where you have your tattoo done, but the placement is just as important as the tattoo itself. While some companies such as Virgin Atlantic now allow their flight attendants to have their tattoos on show, your boss might not be so forgiving.
But, if you’re a tattoo veteran then you may be looking for ideas that will suit the last bit of bare skin you have on your body. Whatever it may be, we’ve rounded up the best men’s tattoo ideas into one definitive guide.
If it’s your first tattoo you’re looking for, then one of the best tattoo ideas for men is going to be something small. Easy to cover up and barely noticeable in case you find you don’t like it in 20 years time, you’ll find a vast majority of tattoo artists should be able to make almost image or design small for you, so make sure you ask for what you want.
For more small tattoo inspiration, check out our complete guide.
A classic tattoo design for men if ever there was one, a rose tattoo can come in a range of styles and sizes. Do you go realistic like the one in the image above, or do you look into getting a single-line drawing rose tattoo design instead? How about adding some colour? See, choosing a tattoo design isn’t as easy as you thought, right?
For more rose tattoo idea inspiration, check out our complete guide.
Sword tattoo designs for men are traditionally said to symbolize bravery and courage or they can even have connections with Christianity. Of course, you could simply get a sword because you like swords. Remember, a tattoo is a piece of art, it doesn’t have to have meaning.
Separate from roses, you could get a floral tattoo, such as a single flower or a larger piece on your arm or back, for example. Floral tattoo ideas could have meaning for men; you could get the favourite flowers of a loved one, or, as with any other tattoo, it could just be an incredible piece of art.
If you really want to commit to some serious ink on your body, then a full men’s back tattoo piece could be the way to go. With such a large area of skin offering itself up as a blank canvas, you have a great deal of freedom with regards to what sort of design you can get. Japanese-style tattoos are great for back pieces, or you could go for a full landscape scene.
A popular tattoo for men is an eagle tattoo. Some suggest eagle tattoos can symbolise freedom, while others just simply love the bird of prey itself. An eagle tattoo can be tattooed in almost any size, although the larger you go, the more likely you are to end up with a seriously detailed result.
Many people believe wolf tattoos symbolise protection, loyalty and strength. Wolf tattoos can come in various styles, including a realistic wolf face or something a little more abstract. They’re a great tattoo idea for men.
Single Line Tattoo
Single line tattoos for men are an incredible variation of a fine line tattoo. The best part is that you could theoretically get any design, whether it be a flower like the image above, or an animal, as a single line tattoo. It’s best to seek out a tattoo artist who has demonstrable experience with single line tattoos, as they do require real skill.
Some pet owners love to get their furry (or not so furry) friend immortalised in ink on their skin forever. Whether it’s your pet’s face, their paw or their entire body, a pet tattoo is a great idea for men looking for a sentimental design.
Love ’em or hate ’em, some men like to get tattoos of their favourite celebrities or inspirational figures. Just be careful with your choice of tattoo artist if you want to get a portrait, as you’ll want it to look as realistic as possible. Remember, it will be on your skin forever.
You may consider a compass tattoo for its connotations of guidance, protection and direction. You could opt for a realistic-looking compass like the one in the image above, or a more simple compass tattoo design such as some arrows pointing in all four directions.
Religious tattoos can come in various guises, be it a cross, a depiction of God or, in the case of the image above, the Creation of Adam. The Creation of Adam is an incredibly popular tattoo for men and can be designed in numerous ways. It symbolises the spark of life God gave to Adam, so could be a good way to symbolise life on earth.
An ankle tattoo is a great idea for men who want something small, yet don’t necessarily want to cover it up. You can get almost anything tattooed on your ankle, so if there’s a small design you want, then the ankle it a great place to have it done.
We’ve already discussed snake tattoo ideas for men, but we thought we’d reiterate them here. A snake tattoo can symbolise the cyclical nature of the universe because they shed their skin and are essentially ‘reborn’. A snake tattoo can go anywhere on your body and be any size, so if it’s something you like the idea of, speak to a tattoo artist about exactly what you want.
A men’s neck tattoo is a bold statement for sure, and admittedly, it won’t be for everyone. However, some men consider neck tattoos to be a symbol of trying something new and to be open to new experiences, because the neck and throat can be associated with communication.
A favourite tattoo design for men is a full sleeve tattoo. The beauty of a sleeve is that you can have all your favourite images and designs in one full piece. Just remember, you’re not going to be able to have a full sleeve tattoo completed in one session, so be prepared to go back to your tattoo studio multiple times.
For a truly unique men’s tattoo idea, then try seeking out incredibly talented tattoo artists who are capable of designing stunning realism tattoos. If you have an idea of what you want, they will be able to come up with a design just for you, leaving you with a tattoo that will be a guaranteed conversation starter.
A chest tattoo is another popular option for men. Chest tattoos are said to be a sign of masculinity and strength, especially if your tattoo covers your entire chest region.
A dragon tattoo is said to be a sign of strength, wisdom and masculinity, making it a great tattoo idea for men. Dragon tattoos can look particularly effective when done in a Japanese or traditional style, as seen in the image above.
A snail tattoo is said to symbolise rebirth or death, but you could just get one because they’re actually a cool little animal. Snail tattoos can be inked in either a realistic fashion, like the image above, or you can opt for something more cartoonish, such as Gary, from SpongeBob Square Pants.
A star tattoo is a great tattoo idea for men because it can be big or small and have a number of meanings. Popular meanings of star tattoos include dreams and ambition, desire, hope and mystery. Star tattoos can come in various styles, too, whether it be the typical 5-pointed star you used to draw as a child, more of a sparkling star as seen in the image above, or perhaps even a star constellation.
Bee tattoos are another popular tattoo idea for men. While some guys may get a bee simply because they like them, if you wanted to get a tattoo that represents loyalty, a bee tattoo is a perfect idea. Bee tattoos are also one of the best to get because they can be drawn in a number of ways. You could choose to include a honey pot with your bee tattoo, opt for a geometric design as seen in the image above, or go down the small tattoo route.
Not only do you need inspiration with regard to what you want to get a tattoo of, but you also need to think about where you want to have your tattoo inked on your body. Check out this complete guide to some of the best forearm tattoo ideas to see if it’s the perfect canvas for you.
If you and your partner, or your best friend, want to immortalise your relationship, then how about a matching tattoo? The world is quite literally your oyster here, as you may have an inside joke between the two (or more) of you. Alternatively, couples can get matching tattoos that symbolise their love for one another.
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Butterflies represent change, transformation, freedom, and balance. They can look great on a man’s body and can be represented in various styles. You can either have a standalone butterfly tattoo or add a butterfly to a larger, more complex design.
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Semicolon tattoos are often seen on the wrists of people who have struggled with things like mental health or depression, or those who have attempted to take their own life in the past. This tattoo sends a powerful message, and it will serve as a reminder that life goes on and that things can get better.
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Medusa is known for her unusual appearance, with snakes for hair and with a figure that can turn anyone into stone if they look into her eyes. The powerful female character can represent many things, from rebirth to death and even mystery and jealousy.
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Traditional tattoos are popular to this day, and they are known for their bright colors and unique style. The thick, black outlines make a great pair for the bright colors. These pieces became very popular among sailors who were tattooing themselves and you can make yours look just as cool.
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Guns can make you feel powerful. These tools can make great tattoos, and they can symbolize different things for every man. For instance, they may represent power, but also self-defense and protection. On top of that, they can honor people who served in law enforcement or the military.
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Mandala tattoos are made using different patterns and shapes in a circular shape. These pieces can represent harmony, eternity, and balance among other things. What’s great is that they can be combined with other elements, such as nature and animal images.
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Flower tattoos are great for men too, especially if you want something with a deep meaning. Each flower has a different denotation, and its colors can also symbolize various aspects of life. For instance, you could go for a rose, a daisy, or a cherry blossom tattoo.
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The magical phoenix makes the perfect piece for pretty much any body part. Phoenixes can represent renewal and rebirth, not to mention that they look spectacular. They will grab everyone’s attention, particularly if you also add some colorful flames to the piece.
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Sunflower tattoos can be a great way to add some color to your skin and positivity in your life. These beautiful flowers symbolize many things, including loyalty, vitality, adoration, and happiness among others.
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Due to their bright and bold colors, Japanese tattoos are extremely popular, and you’ll see them on many people. You can use all sorts of imagery in these artworks, from koi fish to cherry blossoms, geishas, and other elements. With the help of an experienced artist, you can create an eye-catching and meaningful piece.
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You’ll see lion tattoos on many men and the thigh is a great placement for the King of the Jungle. These large and fierce felines are symbols of bravery, power, and determination, as well as love and passion for your family. Get this big cat if you’re a strong, loyal man who is not afraid of anything.
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It’s easy to create a cool dragonfly tattoo if you choose the right style. Dragonflies have different meanings. They could represent luck, prosperity, peace, and harmony. Because they are some of the oldest living insects, they can be very interesting, especially when you get to explain their meaning to other people.
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In nature, scorpions are predatory arachnids. Due to their appearance and the stinger at the tip of their tails, they are very feared, but also respected. For this reason, the arachnid is often inked onto men’s bodies as a symbol of strength and protection.
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Tigers are big, beautiful felines with unique patterns on their bodies. The animals are known predators, and perhaps this is what makes them so intriguing. When tattooed on your skin, they can represent fierceness, power, independence, and freedom.
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What makes geometric tattoos so great is the fact that they focus on different outlines and shapes to create more unique designs. Usually, they look better with little to no shading, and they are mostly done using black ink. They can give off a very modern feel.
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If large, detailed tattoos do not please you, minimalist tattoos are the way to go. You can place them pretty much anywhere, and they will surely stand out and send the right message. Also, there are many things you can get tattooed in a minimalistic way, making them more subtle yet more meaningful.
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Maori tattoos can be a cool way to show respect for your ancestors if you have Maori ancestry. However, you do not necessarily have to be Maori in order to get these tattoos. Maori people generally don’t have a problem with people getting them as long as a Maori tattoo artist does them. Therefore, make sure to be respectful if you choose this design.
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You’ll see tribal tattoos everywhere and on various body parts. These pieces work on any man, and they can be easy to design thanks to how many things can be done with the shapes and lines they include. The most popular placements for tribal tattoos include the arms, shoulder, legs, and chest.
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Sun tattoos can symbolize different things, such as light, truth, guidance, and life. The great thing about sun art pieces is that they can either be small or detailed, depending on the look you’re going for. On top of that, they work well with other elements such as the moon and different planets and stars.
Koi Fish Tattoo
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If you want something beautiful and meaningful, you can choose koi fish. They are very important elements of Chinese and Japanese cultures, and they symbolize strength, determination, perseverance, and many other things. Their pretty colors will surely turn some heads.
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It’s not uncommon to see skull tattoos, whether they’re human or animal skulls. They represent death and can look very badass. For a long time, these tattoos have been favorite picks for many inked individuals, and they pair very well with snakes, roses, and other designs.
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The moon reflects the light of the sun, shining bright on our sky at night. The Earth’s natural satellite is very beautiful, and in tattoo form, it can symbolize creativity, growth, and life. To make it more magical, you can also add a few stars around it.
Lotus Flower Tattoo
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Believe it or not, lotus flower tattoos are quite common on men’s bodies. These flowers can represent your transformation into a better person, as well as rising above temptation. In Hindu belief, they represent spiritual awakening, purity, and beauty.
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Aren’t turtles adorable? Well, you’ll be happy to know that being a man shouldn’t stop you from getting a turtle tattoo as it can symbolize protection and self-defense, as well as wisdom and time. All in all, they can be very beautiful and unique designs.
Cherry Blossom Tattoo
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Cherry blossom tattoos can look very beautiful on a man’s skin, and they can also have different meanings. Also known as the Sakura flower, it represents Japan. It can mean many things, from beauty to love and new beginnings. Even sensual freedom can be symbolized by this gorgeous flower.
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You may consider a wave tattoo if you love the ocean or if your horoscope is a water element. Well, these pieces look amazing, and they can be done in various ways. Not to mention that they can have various meanings and interpretations. No matter where you place it, the tattoo will have the same strong impact.
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The yakuza adopted the Irezumi tattooing style. If you like this style, you don’t have to worry – members are not identified based on tattoos, so if you ever go to Japan, you will not get in trouble. You can choose different symbols as part of your yakuza tattoo, such as snakes, tigers, or dragons.
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After a long day at work, the thing you’re looking forward to the most is probably going home to your cat. But why not take a part of your cat with you everywhere? A cat tattoo is the best way to do that. You can honor your little feline with some ink and you’ll always remember the good moments with your pet.
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There’s nothing like coming back to a dog wagging its tail as he sees you. As a dog owner, you’re probably excited for more fun moments with your furry friend. Well, with a dog tattoo, you will be able to smile at all times as it will remind you of the adorable pet waiting for you at home.
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If you’ve been a fan of the Simpsons for years, then you’re probably eager to get the legendary Homer Simpson on your body. This is a great way to show your taste in humor while paying tribute to your favorite show and characters.
Family Guy Tattoo
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You may see other guys walking around with Family Guy tattoos. The cartoon made lots of men smile and laugh when they were going through bad times, and if it’s also the case for you, you can pick a Family Guy tattoo for your next appointment.
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Birds are one of the best representations of freedom. They travel long distances and they’re very beautiful. Birds can symbolize freedom, heaven, and earth, or the passing of a loved one. The meaning can change depending on the bird you settle for.
Palm Tree Tattoo
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Men who love going on vacations far away from home will love the palm tree tattoo and it can remind them of the sun, ocean, and fun times in general. You can go for a small palm tree tattoo in a subtle location or for something more complex.
Tree of Life Tattoo
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The Tree of Life is important in many cultures. In India, it shows the link between humans and God, while in Norse mythology, it focuses on the link between the human and spiritual world. As a tattoo, this tree can symbolize renewal, wisdom, knowledge, strength, and immortality.
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Elephants are big, majestic animals that care about their babies and can get dangerous when someone tries to threaten them. These animals represent prosperity, luck, power, and wisdom, and they make perfect pieces for a man’s skin.
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Anchors used to be popular among sailors, and they still are to this day. But you don’t necessarily have to be a sailor to get this tattoo – it also works if you simply love the sea. Moreover, the anchor serves as a reminder to stay focused when going through bad times.
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With a feather tattoo, you can represent the idea of travel or freedom. These tattoos are very popular, and you’ll most likely see them on many people. Aside from the mentioned representations, a feather can also symbolize Christianity.
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The Samurai were fierce warriors coming from noble backgrounds. Whether you’re a fan of the Samurai or you simply want to show off your power and courage, a Samurai tattoo will be an ideal choice.
Southern Cross Tattoo
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The Southern Cross is a very important symbol, as the miners uprising against the Government used it as a symbol of rebellion. As such, this tattoo can represent division and unity.
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It’s easy to get creative with heart tattoos. These pieces can either be cute and romantic, or anatomical. What’s even better is that you get to play around with the design by adding some extra elements to it, like flowers, animals, or other things.
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Crowns are associated with royalty. If you see yourself as a king and a leader, the crown tattoo will suit you very well. It symbolizes glory, power, and self-control. Whether you get just the crown or you add it to a more complex design, it’ll make a very good impression.
Grim Reaper Tattoo
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For a very long time, the Grim Reaper has been a popular symbol of death. While it may seem intimidating, this tattoo can also have a powerful meaning – it can represent the fact that you are not afraid of death or what happens next and can remind you to live your life to the fullest.
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Arrows represent the idea of moving forward in life, but also one’s strength. They can show the direction in your life and can be done in various designs. Arrows were used for hunting or protection, so if you want to symbolize this, you can also get them tattooed on your body.
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Celtic tattoos are great when you have Celtic heritage, or you just love the ancient Celts. There are many ways to do this design using Celtic knots. The most popular ones are Triquetra, Trinity Knot, and Dara Knot.
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Swallow tattoos are not only adorable but also symbolic. These little birds were used by sailors who wanted some luck to safely make it back to their families after their journeys. The pieces represent travel and exploration.
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Many people fear sharks, and rightfully so – they are large creatures that can easily kill. But while the shark can be tattooed to inspire fear, it also symbolizes different things, such as calmness, determination, and strength. What’s even better is that you can choose from multiple types of sharks for your tattoo.
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You may have seen lots of dagger tattoos lately. The dagger represents many things, from death and loss to danger and betrayal. If you were deceived or wronged by someone in the past, this tattoo can show this part of your story.
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Whether you go for the golden yellow dandelion or the fluffy white dandelion tattoo style, it can be a very unique and beautiful design. The dandelion carries a strong symbolism, representing rebirth, innocence, purity, and a burning desire to move on from the past.
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Encountering a bear in the wild is not something you want. But that doesn’t mean you cannot get a bear tattoo, especially if you care about symbolism or you love these animals. Bears represent endurance, power, and courage, as well as strength.
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Trees are everywhere, and they are linked with different meanings. For the most part, they represent growth, regeneration, and life. Meanings can change with each different type of tree, though. So, if you want a tattoo with a powerful meaning, you should choose the tree carefully.
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Lighthouse tattoos are used by lots of men to symbolize safety, protection, and guidance. When you need to be guided toward the right path, this tattoo can be the perfect choice.
Third Eye Tattoo
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The third eye symbolizes intuition and wisdom, as well as the ability to foretell the future. Many times, it is used as a religious symbol, and some people get it tattooed within a triangle, with multiple sun rays emitting from it.
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Buddha is essential to Buddhists, and his teachings are very important to those following the Buddhist faith. If you’re devoted to this religion and you resonate with what Buddha preaches, you can go for this tattoo.
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Angel tattoos can either be something related to Christianity or a way to honor a loved one who passed away. But that’s not all – angels can look very gracious and beautiful, and if you want to go for the religious meaning, you can combine it with other symbols, like crosses, doves, and more.
Yin Yang Tattoo
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The Yin Yang symbol comes from Chinese philosophy, and it shows the unity between opposing forces, such as light and dark, good and evil, and feminine and masculine. It shows that everything has two sides, so you can choose this tattoo to represent this idea.
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Time goes by very quickly, and the clock tattoo can easily represent that. Due to how precious time is, we shouldn’t waste it, and if you’re a man who wants to make the best of his time on Earth, you can remind yourself of that through a clock tattoo.
Evil Eye Tattoo
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For lots of men, the evil eye tattoo serves as means of protection. It can protect the wearer’s positive energy and keep him away from anything negative. Due to its rich symbolism, it can be an appealing option for tattoos.
Tear Drop Tattoo
Teardrop tattoos can symbolize many things depending on their location. Perhaps you want to use them as a way to show your suffering and how you overcame struggles. If placed under the eye, these tattoos can mean that one received a very lengthy prison sentence or even attempted murder.
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Frangipani tattoos look amazing, especially on a man’s arm. The great thing about them is that they have multiple meanings depending on what you go for. Some representations include dedication, love, creation, beauty, and devotion.
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Everyone imagines mermaids as these mystical, stunning creatures that swim graciously in the ocean. These tattoos can look amazing on a man, regardless of the type of mermaid you decide to get inked. They can also represent magic, power, beauty, bravery, and connection to nature.
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Some people follow the description of their zodiac sign word by word. In this case, the star sign can be a great tattoo, whether you’re a Scorpio, Virgo, Taurus, or a different sign.
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When you see moths at night, you may be unaware of the different meanings they have. These insects were omens of death in some cultures, while others look at them as cleansing spirits. They can also honor loved ones who have passed away.
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Do you love outer space? It is infinite and mysterious, and it’s a great symbol for space travel, astronauts, or astronomy. However, if you are a dreamer, a space tattoo will also be perfect for you.
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Many men choose diamond tattoos, either simple ones or diamonds as part of a larger, more detailed design. Diamonds show strength, loyalty, love, and friendship.
Dream Catcher Tattoo
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Dream catcher tattoos are quite popular. These objects are representative of the Native American culture. They can filter out negative experiences and protect against evil. Therefore, they symbolize protection.