Everyone has their own reasons for getting a tattoo. Some people want to commemorate a special occasion or time in their life. Some want to honor events or people that played an important role in their life. And others just really like tattoos and want to keep adding to their collection! Getting a tattoo is a very personal experience, from deciding on what you want to get to picking a reputable tattoo artist. Plenty of people get tattoos on a whim, without much thought or preparation. However, a lot of people put a lot of time and effort into picking the perfect tattoo. Tattoos can be inspiring and powerful, and they can help empower those who get them. These meaningful tattoos are a great example of how special they can be.
Maybe you want a tattoo that can be a visual reminder of how far you’ve come. Or maybe you want your tattoo to be a source of personal strength. Meaningful tattoos go deeper than ink in layers of skin. They can be representative of themes or events that are important to you. Tattoos are an art form, but that doesn’t mean they’re just pretty to look at! If you’re looking for a tattoo that means something more, this collection of meaningful tattoos may inspire you.
Meaningful tattoos can remind you that you are not defined by your past.
This one made us cry. Her story is harrowing, but her “Resilient” tattoo is well-earned. The caption reads, “When I was 8 years old, my parents divorced. When I was 10 years old, my mother passed from a drug overdose. When I was 11, the police coming to my house on an almost weekly basis was the ‘norm’ due to violent fights between my father & his gf at the time.”
“[At] 12, I was taken out of school early one day and told that my brothers and I would be living in foreign home for the next 6 months. When I was 14, I developed an eating disorder and suffered for almost 6 years without asking for help. Now, all of these things could have broken me, torn me a part, given me a million and two reasons to give up, but instead these things made me ambitious, hard-working, relentless, and … RESILIENT.”
Meaningful tattoos can pay homage to a special little person in your life.
There are definitely moments in time we want to capture when it comes to our kiddos. It all goes so fast, and before we know it, they’re grown and off on their own! Tattoos are a great way to turn a special milestone into a meaningful permanent memory. Maybe you want to remember how tiny their hands and feet were, or like this person, the time they drew you your very own work of art. Memories fade, papers and pictures get lost, but a tattoo is forever. And when your kid is a budding artist like this one, turning their art into a tattoo is the way to go!
Meaningful tattoos can be a way to remember someone you’ve lost.
When we lose someone we love, we’re often scared that we may lose the memory of them too. The way they laughed, their smell, the little things they did that made them who they were. Unfortunately, we can’t tattoo some of these things on our bodies as lasting memories. But we can choose to get a tattoo that honors or memorializes some small part of them. It can be as simple as a few words, like this tattoo. Just a tiny reminder that they may be gone, but they are far from forgotten. “Until we meet again” is such a lovely and meaningful sentiment.
Some meaningful tattoos can be a part of a larger purpose.
You may have seen someone you love with a semicolon tattoo in their wrist. Or maybe you have one yourself, and know the significance of that particular symbol. Project Semicolon is a non-profit movement that aims to support people who are struggling with mental illness, suicidal thoughts, self-injury, and depression. The idea of using a semicolon is powerful in and of itself. In literature, a semicolon is used when a writer doesn’t want to end a sentence. You are the writer and your life is the sentence. A semicolon tattoo signifies that the person doesn’t want their sentence to end. Pretty powerful stuff.
Another incredibly special memorial tattoo.
Losing a child is the hardest thing a parent can go through. It’s an experience that is too difficult to put into words. Losing a child changes your life forever, and you will likely never be the same. Some parents only get a short time with their little ones, before they leave this world. It’s a heartbreaking to carry your child for so many months, anticipate their arrival, and then have to say goodbye far too soon. This tattoo is such a beautiful example of the ache the loss of a child leaves behind, and the memory the parents will carry forever.
Meaningful tattoos can be just one or two words that you find powerful.
Every once in a while, you stumble across a story or song or poem that hits right at your soul. It may be the lyrics or words, or the meaning behind the words. Maybe it’s something written by your favorite author or poet. Turning those words or lyrics into a meaningful tattoo is a great way to remember them forever. Short-form poet Instagrammer @H.Lynnpoems shares beautiful, poignant poems on her IG page, and one of them really hit home for this person. They chose to tattoo one of her poems onto their legs, which we imagine was pretty meaningful for the tattooed and for H. Lynn!
Meaningful tattoos can be inspirational.
Sometimes we just need a little inspiration, you know? Something to remind us that things will get better, and it won’t always be this hard. A little note or picture to help us remember that better days are ahead. That’s one of the best parts about meaningful tattoos – they can do all of that, and the reminder is permanent. We love this simple mountain range with the rays of a rising sun behind it. So symbolic of everyday being a second chance for us to try again and do better. We all need that reminder from time to time, right?
Another example of the resilience of the human spirit.
We happen to love the poem this line is from, so this one is one of our favorites on the list of meaningful tattoos. “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou is the perfect poem about human resilience and perseverance. “Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still I’ll rise. Did you want to see me broken?Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ’cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines diggin’ in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise.”
Meaningful tattoos can be symbolic of your faith and role as a mother.
Faith is a very important part of a lot of people’s lives. As it their role as a mother, father, sister, brother, or friend. Some people choose to pay homage to both those areas with a meaningful tattoo. This one is a cross for this mother’s faith, and the birth flowers of her children woven around it. It’s a really beautiful piece, and we know this must be an incredibly special tattoo for her. And it just goes to show that you can combine two very important aspects of your life into one tattoo, and make it that much more meaningful.
The club that everyone should be a part of.
It’s such a simple thing, loving oneself, yet somehow we all seem to fail at it more often than not. We’re our own worst critics, and judge ourselves more harshly than we judge anyone else. But it’s so important that we love ourselves, so that we can do better at loving others. We think this sweet and simple tattoo is a great reminder of that, and we can totally see glimpsing at it for a little inner strength and encouragement from time to time. We should all work harder to see all the amazing qualities within ourselves that other people love, right?
Here’s another example of how meaningful tattoos can serve as a memorial for someone we lost.
We love, love, love the idea of taking someone’s signature and giving it a permanent spot on our body. What a beautiful way to honor someone’s memory, and give yourself a memento that you’ll have forever. In the caption of this post, the artist says that this is the woman’s grandfather’s signature. It’s those little things that we tend to miss the most when we lose someone, you know? This is such a lovely idea, and we hope seeing his signature is a daily reminder of how much he loved her, and she him. This is one of those meaningful tattoos with a lot of thought behind it.
A lot of these meaningful tattoos have been small, but they don’t have to be.
You know that saying, “Go big or go home?” Well, apparently that applies to tattoos, too! The artist says this was this guy’s first tattoo, and we have to say, he totally nailed it. He tattooed every verse of “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley on his torso. It’s a very powerful poem, and we’re sure it’s incredibly meaningful to him. The last verse reads, “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Seriously, such powerful words that he probably uses as a guide through life.
Sometimes, meaningful tattoos come from the artist.
Jio Maia, the tattoo artist who shared this beautiful image, says that it was a very meaningful drawing to them that finally found a permanent home. And that’s got to be such an amazing feeling! Tattoo artists routinely draw, paint, or create in other ways, and many try to use tattooing as a way to transfer their art and talents into permanent works of art. Since a lot of people usually come to an artist with an idea of what they want, that can mean a lot of that beautiful art never sees a needle. Not only is this a gorgeous tattoo, but it’s got to feel so good knowing that something you created was loved enough by someone else to put it on their body forever.
We love this little bit of female empowerment.
Oh, this one has us feeling all of the feels! And this is something we need to be reminded of all the time. Instead of waiting around for someone to be your hero, be your own hero! Save your own day, take charge of your own life, and focus on making your life better for you. We don’t need anyone else to save us, when we have the strength within us to save ourselves. And we love the contrast of the stark type face against the bright watercolors. Such a beautiful piece, and a very powerful sentiment that would serve us all well.
The message behind this one is perfect.
The caption reads, “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.” We love that! And we’ve never really thought of it that way. But it’s such a great reminder that even the hardest stuff life throws at you can help propel you forward and make you stronger. What we love so much about this one is that on the surface, it’s just a really pretty tattoo. But when you read the meaning behind it, it becomes so much more beautiful and powerful.
A twofer on the list of meaningful tattoos!
These are both so great! The caption says that the one of the left is a puzzle piece added to her heart. The one on the left is a tattoo of her new lungs in honor of quitting smoking. Now that is definitely a powerful and meaningful tattoo, and something you want to always remember! We love how one lung is blackened, and the other is growing flowers, symbolizing a fresh start and regrowth. And just think – once you get a tattoo to honor doing something as hard as quitting smoking, you can never go back, LOL. It’s right there holding you accountable every single day.
We love the message behind this one.
There’s only one Earth, and we could all be a lot better about loving her and protecting her and keeping her safe. This simple piece is such a powerful image, of a girl hugging the planet in a protective way. That’s the great thing about meaningful tattoos – they can be meaningful and powerful in so many ways, to so many different people. This message is important, and we totally dig the idea of turning it into a tattoo. Plus, we love how Earth is done in a stark black and minimalist style, rather than the blue and green we’re used to seeing.
All hail the powerful uterus!
Listen, having a uterus makes you are one of the most powerful creatures on the face of the planet. You can create and sustain life. That’s AMAZING. There are a lot of ways to turn your feminism into a powerful and meaningful tattoo, bur we’ve always been pretty fond of the uterus gang symbol. It’s just a cool and different way to show your love for women and embrace the organ that sets us apart. And yes, it is just an organ, but again: it is an organ that literally creates life. You can’t say that about a spleen or whatever.
Meaningful tattoos can be very spiritual.
In Buddhism, “the lotus is a symbol of rising out of the material world and into spiritual union with the entire universe, also known as enlightenment.” The lotus also has significance in childbirth and motherhood, as Buddhists “believe the souls themselves emerge from blooming blossoms before entering newly born infants.” The mandala design dates back to ancient India, and is used as a meditation and healing tool. Given the symbolism behind the lotus, it’s no wonder that many mandalas include the beautiful flower. Each petal is supposed to represent something different, and often times the number of petals is determined by the sacredness of the numbers.
Pets can also make for some pretty meaningful tattoos.
We just love this one so very much. We’ve shown you some of the best pet tattoos we’ve come across before, but we couldn’t have an entire list of meaningful tattoos without including one that honored a fur baby! Pets are just the absolute best, and for so many people, they’re members of the family. This adorable little portrait captures this doggo just perfectly, and will always be a lovely reminder of what a good boy or girl they are! We love little tattoos like this, and feel like the smaller ones really pack a punch when they’re done with so much love.
This one is meaningful for more than one reason.
So in the caption of this post, the artist says that a mother and daughter came in for tattoos. In this case, the mother got the tattoo, and the daughter picked it out for her. That’s got to be so meaningful for them both! But more than that, we love how this tattoo shows the vibrant life that exists in the pages of a book. So unassuming with the black and white pages, but when you open one, you can be transported to a different place and time, or even a different world. This is how we imagine it looks every time we open a book, and we love what this daughter chose for her mom.
This one is so, so beautiful and poignant.
The tattoo says, “You mustn’t give up yet though, and just sit there feeling blue.” But it’s the caption that really highlights just how special and meaningful this tattoo is. The artist says, “Every once in a while I’m asked to do a tattoo that forces me to take a step back and appreciate life a little more. This piece hit close to home. It’s for a woman who recently lost her young daughter. The quote and artwork were inspired by one of her favorite children’s books. Tonight I urge you to take a moment to hug someone you love, and let them know how much they mean to you. Life is fragile. Never take it for granted.” We’re not crying, you’re crying.
Some of the most meaningful tattoos are also some of the most unique.
Have you ever seen one of these? This is a sound wave tattoo. Basically a tattoo artist takes a breakdown of the sound waves from an audio clip, and then tattoos them on the body. Then with the use of a special app, you can scan the tattoo and listen to the audio from the sound waves. It’s such an amazing idea, and we think this might be one of the most meaningful tattoos we featured here. To be able to capture someones actual voice in a tattoo? That’s pretty priceless, and also pretty damn special. We just love this so much.