Deciding on a Tattoo design

How to Decide on Tattoo Designs

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Some tattoo designs, and a basic description of each. Also, information on a wonderful database with thousands more designs.


  1. Decide on what type of design you want. You have several to choose from.
    • Tribals Tattoos - Tribal Tattooing originated thousands of years ago, and it is still being used by various cultures throughout the world. Tribal tattoos originated in areas such as Hawaii and Samoa. Their characteristics include heavy black lines and shading of geometric designs. The great thing about tribal tattoos is the variety of creativity that a tattoo artist can use. In fact, any basic design can easily be given a tribal touch by a skilled tattoo artist by working freehand alone. With the flexibility of this design, anyone can easily come up with a unique tribal tattoo design.
    • Celtic Tattoos - Celtic designs are an incredibly popular choice today for those looking to get tattooed. A general rule of thumb is: the shape of the design often determines the "meaning" of a knotwork design. Circles represent unity or eternity, spirals reincarnation or cycles of life and rebirth, triangles and trefoils the threefold dominion of earth, sea, and sky. Squares or four-fold shapes are shield knots, symbols of protection from spirits or evil influences. Interlaced animals and men usually represent relationships, or emphasize the interdependence of mankind and nature.
      • There are actually very few records of the Celts themselves, and most symbols are interpreted by archaeologists and other scholars who have studied the symbols in context. Some ancient Celtic symbols have changed in meaning over time, having been influenced by the introduction of the Church and the influence of other cultures. Be sure to seek advice from the tattoo artist when deciding on which design would best suit your personality.
    • Cross Tattoos - Cross designs are one of the oldest types of designs, and are still an incredibly popular choice for those who are looking to get tattooed. There are 4 basic cross designs that are very popular.
      • Celtic Cross
      • Iron Cross
      • Gothic Cross
      • Christian Cross
        • There are some people that just love a well done cross tattoo just for the sake of how beautiful it is. If it is done well, and the ridges and curves are very smooth and detailed, it will have an amazing result. It can almost have a three dimensional effect when you look at it from the sides.
    • Butterfly Tattoos - Butterfly tattoos are still an incredibly popular choice for those looking to get tattooed. They can be done in many ways. They can be done in a big way, with bold colors and details, or they can be done with a more subtle approach. They can be done to match the actual realistic look of a butterfly, or you can be very creative with your rendition. You can also combine them with other designs and themes. Before you have a huge butterfly tattooed on your body, please consider the following. The basic symbolism of the butterfly involves grace, beauty, spirituality, transition, so be sure to have your tattoo made delicately and carefully.
    • Dragon Tattoos - Dragon tattoos are one of the most sought after tattoo designs today! In Japan, dragons are an important part of the Japanese mythology. In Japan, they are water gods; therefore, that is why they are generally portrayed with clouds. Japanese dragon tattoos symbolize power, protection of home and family and longevity. In China, the dragon has a stronger, more masculine depiction of the Dragon. There, they represent strength, intelligence, luck, health, and harmony. They commonly protect life, fortune, and fertility. They generally have a snake-like appearance, and scales all over their body. They are also said to possess supernatural powers. The Tribal variation of the Dragon tattoo is also impressive. They are dragons that are designed with the strengths of the Tribal Tattoo style, such as the bold, black colors. The meaning of the Tribal Tattoo will depend more on how you decide to combine it with Tribal styles.
    • Angel Tattoos - Angel tattoos are another type of tattoo with multiple types and meanings. Generally, when women get an angel tattoo, this symbolizes calmness and serenity. When men get them, it usually symbolizes more of a connection to their spirituality and inner self. Some angel designs are designed to make the wearer safe and protected. Of course, there are some darker designs that can also represent a person's darker side. There are Cherub designs, which symbolize hope and optimism, relating to love. Generally speaking, the symbol of an angel represents a representative from God, and the spiritual and emotional support he gives us.
    • Arm Tattoos - Arm tattoos are also very common, and can be done in many ways. This is probably the most common place on the body to tattoo. They are common in both Eastern and Western cultures. This spot on the body is very visible, so you want to ensure that you get a design that is important to you. There are just so many choices in this area, upper arm tattoo, forearm tattoo, shoulder tattoo, sleeve tattoos, wrist tattoos, the list can go on and on. Full sleeve tattoos are probably the boldest choice. Tattoo sleeves seem to be preferred by men although many women also seem to be getting them. It should be noted that full sleeve tattoos take a very long time to complete and usually require more than one session. Now that being said, it also takes great deal of commitment and money to create quality sleeve tattoos.
    • Skull Tattoos - Skull tats have been a huge choice for many decades, and are still extremely popular. From fun and jovial, to scary and creepy, this tattoo can be expressed in hundreds or ways. The symbol of the skull is known all over the world as a sign of death. People generally assume that the Skull Tat is a representation of death or other negative images. It also symbolizes power, strength, and the ability to overcome a difficult time in life, and the ability to avoid death. Historically, the skull has also been seen as a triumph over an enemy.
      • You can see many different styles of skulls based on the creative imagination of the person creating them. They can be seen in many places, video games, comic strips, books, and of course tattoos.
  2. Be sure to seek advice from the tattoo artist when deciding on which design would best suit your personality.


  • Tattoos can be dangerous. Although usually not, ink can soak through your skin and damage your blood.

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How to Choose a Tattoo Design

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Choosing a tattoo that looks cool should be a thorough process. They are intended to be forever, and removal is expensive. The more planning that goes into your design of choice, the more likely that you will enjoy your tattoo later in life.


  1. Be happy with what design you have on your body. As long as you like it, that's the most important thing. That being said, there are factors that can make you love or hate your tattoo.
  2. Find a design that has meaning for you. Even if you cannot draw, a little practice and patience can get you a good outline, at least. Most tattoo artists will help you redraw and redesign a tattoo.
  3. Stay away from the art (known as "flash") shown in the studios except as inspiration. It is better to go with a unique and original design than a mass market design - "flash" is designed by excellent artists then sold to tattoo artists around the country and around the world.
  4. Find an artist or designer and ask them to make a custom design for you. Many tattoo artists are also conventional artists, or can at least reproduce a traditional drawing, sketch or painting onto your skin.
  5. Find a style that you especially like, and an artist that works in that style. Most artists will do what you want, but also excel in certain "looks." Check portfolios, and compare the different styles: old school, new school, naturalistic, Asian, black and white, etc.
  6. Writing, in any form or language, should be thought over twice as long. Check and recheck the meanings of any words or ideograms of a language you aren't fluent in. Choose quotes carefully. Search for a font you like, or create your own.
  7. Consider carefully what body part you want your tattoo on. Some places you'll look at it every day, some almost never. Consider how likely it will be that you will need to cover it with clothing or otherwise at some point.
  8. Try to get a printout of the design, and see how the design will fit against your skin.
  9. Use henna to get a temporary version of the design. You won't be able to see different colors, or certain looks, but you will be able to judge the feeling of a tattoo. Henna lasts a week to a month.
  10. Think about it a lot. When you are certain, wait some more just to make sure.


  • Think back to 10 years ago. If you had gotten a tattoo back then, what would it most likely have been? If you don't like the idea of having that on your body, don't get a tattoo now. Chances are, in 10 years, you'll regret getting it.
  • Think forward, as well. Is your tattoo going to look good even when you're old and wrinkled? Chances are, a tribal dragon or Hello Kitty won't.
  • The number one tattoos that artists are asked to cover up, after homemade tattoos, are names. If the person is not dead, or your child, names are usually not the best idea.
  • Asian characters are a popular choice, as it is a way to get a meaning in a design. The tattoo studio walls are not the place to trust when looking for a character. Many have double meanings, nuances, things that may give an impression that wasn't intended.
  • Often members of a family will get matching or complimentary tattoos. Often, younger generations will incorporate elements of older family members tattoos in their own designs.
  • A band, TV show, or comic book character you love today may not be something you want to carry around forever on your skin. If you're thinking about getting a tattoo such, think about how big of an impact it had on you. If you've fallen in and out with others like this, then wait a few years before you decide to get it. But, if it made you have hope in a rough time in your life, helped you find out who you were or something along those lines, then it would be better.
  • Don't be afraid to get a tattoo that doesn't have a deep meaning if you love the design. If you love Winnie the Pooh enough to look at him forever, get that Pooh Bear.
  • The darker and more filled-in a tattoo is, the longer it takes to remove. Which means more money, more pain, and more time. Multicoloured tattoos will take longer to remove as they will require multiple treatments with different wavelength lasers for each pigment type. Completely black ink however, is easiest to remove by laser as it absorbs the beam on all wavelengths, breaking up the pigment easier.
  • Feet, hands, and faces need more touch-ups, and more attention to heal properly. Expect to pay more for these areas. Some artists refuse to do facial or hand tattoos on a person that doesn't already have visible tattoos.
  • If you feel hesitant, either about the design or the artist, don't go through with it.
  • Go temporary before going for the permanent.


  • Some people are against cultural appropriation, where someone takes a meaningful aspect of another's culture and uses it for fashionable reasons. If you are getting a tattoo of a traditional symbol, you should know the meaning and history of that symbol.
  • Laser tattoo removal is very expensive, painful, and time-consuming - in fact, much more expensive and more painful than any tattoo. In most cases it can completely remove tattoos. Tattoo cover-ups are cheaper, but find an artist that specializes in them. It's best to be certain about your design. Think about it. Dwell on it.
  • Tattoos can get infected, and should be washed and treated as wounds. Follow your artists aftercare instructions.
  • Most tattoos will need touch-ups through your life. Using sunscreen and moisturising daily will help your tattoo look new for years. After 10-30 years, expect to need touch-ups to combat blurring.
  • Be extremely careful when getting Kanji characters as tattoos if you've found the design on the internet or tattoo parlour wall. You may think it means "Peace, love, harmony" but for all you know the characters could be straight off a soy sauce packet, or worse.
  • Think before getting a tattoo. Will you like the design in the future? What will you do when it fades? Are you sure you want it where you put it? What will people think at a job interview? These are all things to consider before you get a tattoo. A tattoo is a big commitment and you should be prepared for the outcome, may it be good or bad.
  • Don't forget that if you chose to get someone's name, that person might not be around forever. They could leave and you would have their name on your body.

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Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Choose a Tattoo Design. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

How to choose a tattoo design

Choosing a tattoo design is by far the most important process in getting a tattoo. The pain of the needles of your skin is pretty manageable. But the pain of regretting a permanent marking on your skin after a few years is something that is impossible to bear. A lot of people have made this mistake before. Some people have decided to get a tattoo just for the heck have found themselves asking the question ” Why do i have this corny looking tattoo?” after a few years.

Take my uncle for example. When getting cartoon character tattoos was the trend back then, he decided to get Bugs Bunny Tattoo on his chest. I don’t know what got into his head but he got Bugs Bunny with a carrot tattooed on his chest. He felt so cool  and he showed it to his friends with Tweety Bird and Marvin the Martian Tattoos. And you probably have predicated what happened next. After a few years my uncle and all his cartoon character tattooed friends would not even take off their shirts when we are on the beach.  He’s such a shame, my uncle.

That would take us to the first tip on choosing a tattoo design.


Tattoos doesn’t have trends. There might be some designs that are really selling in the moment, but just like the skinny jeans, its popularity would immediately fade away. So its better if you choose a design that  you have properly chosen for your self. If you like wolves, go get a wolf tattoo. If you like pirates, go get a pirate tattoo. If you like dragons, go get a dragon tattoo! Don’t just choose a tattoo designs because every body’s getting it imprinted in their skin.

Your tattoo often shows who you are. So it would be right to choose a design that best describes your personality to the people that sees it. If they don’t like it, who cares?.  What’s important is that you like it and you are proud that it is on your skin.

Here are some of the cool tattoos that i have seen. Try to look at them and get ideas for your new tatoo