Out of all the parts in our body, the arms is perhaps the most common place for tattoos. It’s an easy location to access; someplace that you can easily care for; and where you can easily hide it. Plus, it’s got the perfect areas for almost any kind of tattoo – may it be big or small. That may be the reason why arm tattoos have become a household name in the tattoo industry.
Whether it’s a wrist, forearm, biceps or sleeve tattoo, the designs you can do is limitless. In all honesty, your imagination is the limit. You can create any kind of design you want, so long as you have a trusted artist to help you before or during the procedure. Or of course, you can go for the more conventional designs.
Brief History of Arm Tattoos
- 1 Brief History of Arm Tattoos
- 2 Most Popular Arm Tattoos and their Meanings
- 3 Designs for Arm Tattoos According to their Placement
- 4 Meanings of Popular Arm Tattoos
- 5 Finding your Tattoo Artist
There really isn’t any exact date as to when arm tattoos began. However, tattooing began with native tribes around the world, it’s safe to say that arm tattoos existed back then.
Tattooing have become a great part of human history. Tribes from all around the world, most especially in Polynesian islands, Native America and Asia made tattooing a part of their culture. Tattoos helped them identify people of various tribes. It was also a way to establish their status in the society.
Tattoos were more than just body art. These became a part of every tribe member – of their traditions and even their rituals. But some tribes in the world see arm tattoos as a boost of beauty and status in the society. In Borneo, women would have tattoos on their forearm that would signify a certain set of skills. If a woman has a symbol that is designated to being a good weaver, her chances of getting a husband and being a mother has increased.
Today, arm tattoos are still part of human expression. Designs continue to talk about their wearers. Certain elements and symbols have deeper meanings. People often choose designs that have meanings that relate to them and their personalities.
Most Popular Arm Tattoos and their Meanings
Most tattoo elements have meanings usually adapted from their characteristics. Here are the most common tattoo designs that are often used as arm tattoos:
- Butterfly – This design is a popular choice among women. As one of the most beautiful creatures in nature and in the world, butterflies stand for beauty. Apart from that, they are also known as symbols of freedom and transformation.
- Wolves – Wolves are just one of the common animal tattoo designs you can find. As a tattoo, wolves are symbols of power, loyalty, and perseverance. They are most common for Native Americans as they see wolves as totem animals.
- Silhouette of birds – This may be the most popular bird tattoo up to date. Many tattoo enthusiasts get these on various parts of the body but it’s also a perfect design for the arm. Birds have a variety of meaning, depending on what kind it is. However, silhouettes do not have any distinct features that could point to significant species. And so, they pick on the general meaning of birds – freedom.
- Mountains – Mountains are often used as armband tattoo design. Oftentimes, mountains are used as a symbol of wanderlust or the love of traveling. It also means a great journey or a remembrance of a place they want to remember here on Earth.
- Tribal tattoos – Tribal tattoos often do not have meaning. However, some patterns do have some deeper meaning, especially when they are based on native Polynesian, Asian, or American tattoos. Nonetheless, modern tribal designs are purely for aesthetic.
Designs for Arm Tattoos According to their Placement
Generally, any design can be placed anywhere on your arm. However, some designs work best on certain locations. This might be because of their size, their dimension, and the overall look of the element.
Here are some arm tattoo designs based on where you can place them.
1. Forearm Tattoos
Forearm and inner forearm tattoos often have the most exposure compared to sleeve tattoos. But people can still go all out with their tattoos and choose bolder designs. However, most common designs are often minimalist.
Quotes work best on the inner forearm since the length is a great place for words, especially longer ones. You can usually add designs but many choose not to. It helps create a cleaner design. Apart from quotes, world maps are also popular. These are symbols of traveling and the love of it. Most designs are minimalist, showing the outlines of the countries rather than create intricate details.
The forearm is also one of the best places for a mandala tattoo. Mandalas are beautiful and often a design chosen by women. However, men love this design too and usually puts it on their forearm. As they usually have wider arm, this design is perfect.
2. Inner Elbow Tattoos
Inner elbow is slightly more painful than other parts of the body. This is because the skin is taut and quite sensitive. But this is a better spot than the outer elbow since the crease could ruin the tattoo’s design.
Designs are usually much simpler in this area, especially for women. In fact, it’s one place where minimalist tattoos work best. For minimalist tattoos, shapes and geometric patterns are great and trending designs. These designs do not have intense details but look stunning nonetheless.
Mandalas and intricate details are also welcome. They usually cover the entire elbow area and could even extend to the forearm or the biceps. Other intense designs such as 3D tattoos of skulls, favorite characters, illusions, and other tattoo designs are also getting popular.
Lastly, shorter quotes or phrases look amazing and clean in this spot.
3. Sleeve tattoos
This is where you can go crazy with your design. Sleeve tattoos could either be a quarter, half, or full. That means you can cover just a part of your biceps, the upper arm or extend it to your forearm for a full sleeve. Since the area is usually bigger, you can create more detailed body art.
Many choose 3D tattoo styles for their sleeve tattoos. Among the most common arm tattoos is the biomechanical theme. This is where the design makes it look like the wearer actually has metal bones or gears inside. The theme is more common towards men but some women are already picking this up.
For women, floral designs are very common. They usually fill half their sleeves with tattoos of various flowers. Some choose just a single flower than a whole bouquet of different ones. Usually, the flower is their favorite or it has a meaning that is close to them.
Surrealistic designs are also in. These are more abstract and can have darker or mysterious undertones. It combines various tattoo elements. Designs like these do not really have obvious meanings, except when you give definition to each element you see. Instead, the meanings are created by the artist, usually the wearers themselves.
4. Armband tattoos
Armband tattoos could be anywhere in the arms, but these usually go around to make an armband of sorts. These designs are often cleaner and smaller. But they can be created in a few different ways, depending on what element you choose.
Tribal armbands often include tribal styles. For women, swirls and dots are prominent. Men’s designs usually include thicker and bolder lines. Speaking of lines, simple and minimalist lines that go around the arms is also getting more popular now. This could mean infinity and balance, since you can’t really tell where it begins and where it ends.
Others choose more intricate designs such as a wonderful scenery. The most popular choice is a forest or a mountain range. You can also go with a city view with skyscrapers, your neighborhood, a countryside, or famous landmarks you want to see.
You can do these designs with more details or in a minimalist way. For the latter, doing the entire tattoo with dots is beginning to be more common. Although this is a grueling task, it gives a unique result.
5. Inner Bicep Tattoos
Out of all the spots in your arm, inner bicep tattoos might be the most painful. The area is much more sensitive and you may have problems with the aftercare. Your clothes could rub the tattoo and it could ruin the design. Still, many are opting for an inner bicep tattoo, regardless of the hardships they’ll encounter.
Since the inner bicep is slightly a smaller area, you can only create smaller to average-sized designs. However, you can get creative so long as it fits the dimension. You can opt for a simple quote or a minimalist tattoo. If you love abstract or surrealistic designs, then you are free to create the design.
This is also a good place for traditional and more conventional designs of tattoos. For example, a clock tattoo design or animal designs such as lions, tigers, and wolves. You can turn it into a 3D style or the traditional way.
Suffice to say, it’s a lot like the sleeve area where you can create a masterpiece as a way to express yourself.
Meanings of Popular Arm Tattoos
Since the arms have become the conventional spot for tattoos, the designs have become incredibly varied. There are countless themes and elements you can follow. However, some designs have become more popular – mainly because of what they mean.
Here are some meaningful symbols that could inspire your next ink:
- Skulls – Skulls can be drawn alone or with another element. Designs these days often pair a skull with a woman. Skulls mean death and mortality. Being paired with a woman could mean the cycle of life or life and death themselves. This could also mean the acceptance of the inevitable.
- Roses – Among all the flowers in the world, roses have become a household name in the tattoo industry. It is one of the traditional tattoos that started with soldiers getting tattoos. Roses simply mean love and passion. That is why they are paired with other elements, usually a symbol for a person or a hobby.
- Clocks – Clocks, watches, and pocket watches are also common for tattoo designs. This object has even more varied meanings and it can depend on what element goes with it. However, if a clock is depicted on its own, it is a symbol of life, death, time itself, or a very special moment.
- Angels – Angels or angel wings are symbolic to Christians and those who follow the religion. It means messenger or a way to communicate with God. It can also mean protection and guidance.
- Trees – Either a lone tree or a whole forest, this design is great for those who have been through a lot. As a tattoo, it represents those who are still standing even after the challenges in their lives. It can also mean life and family.
Finding your Tattoo Artist
Sometimes, your design may not be followed exactly. This could be because of your tattoo artist. Sometimes, a few elements in your design may not be suitable for the whole tattoo or where you are going to have it. But there are also moments when they are unable to follow exactly what you have in mind.
Communication is very important and have it grow even before you work with them. While still looking for a tattoo artist or shop, you should already learn how to be comfortable with them. Be sure you ask them for their suggestions about your design. And most of all, ask them for their portfolio. This is where you’ll see all of their past works. This is important since you will know whether they have worked on a similar design as yours.
Also, if you want a 3D tattoo, you have to guarantee that your artist knows how to effectively create one. This is one of the hardest styles since it need mastery in various tattooing techniques. Again, this is where you will find it useful to check their portfolio.
Last but not the least, a great artist cares for your safety so do check their place and their equipment.