An octopus tattoo may not be as mainstream as common designs. Nonetheless, it is gaining popularity in the tattoo industry for both men and women; and there is no surprise. The designs are often complex but more than its looks, an octopus’ persona and the mysticism surrounding it gives the tattoo more value.
Just as with most tattoos, an octopus tattoo often represents the wearer. It gives the world a glimpse of who the wearer is as a person or the story they have gone through before. The most common representation of an octopus in the tattoo industry comes from the creature’s ability to grow back limbs. That means an octopus design could represent the wearer’s ability to stand up once again after facing a great challenge.
Brief History of Octopus and in Ancient Mythology
- 1 Brief History of Octopus and in Ancient Mythology
- 2 Meanings of an Octopus Tattoo
- 3 Octopus versus Squid
- 4 What your Octopus Tattoo could Represent
- 5 Popular Octopus Tattoo Designs and its Meanings
- 6 Octopus Tattoo Variations
- 7 Japanese Octopus Tattoo Design
- 8 Common Styles and Designs for your Octopus Tattoo
- 9 Octopus Tattoo Placement
The octopus is a familiar element in many cultures. In some ancient mythology, the octopus is a symbol of success and good luck. That is because of its eight limbs. Some cultures believe that 8 is a good and lucky number and anything that counts or sums to the number is known as lucky.
However, not all octopus designs and themes were practically good. In ancient Europe, a deep sea mythical creature known as the Kraken is a colossal octopus that attacks ships. It can also be a variation of an octopus tattoo design. While this can mean destruction, it can also represent strength and power. The Kraken is said to be the first octopus to have existed. After its popularity, it has been widely used in art even up to this day.
Meanings of an Octopus Tattoo
The truth is, tattoos have no specific meanings. Each tattoo can have a variety of meanings. It could follow the general symbolism of an element. But most tattoos have a story that is based on the wearer’s own life.
If you want an octopus tattoo, what it means could be based on its general symbolic meaning. However, it can be different and could depend on you. It could be as far as what it often represents as it could be closer to a story you relate to.
Sometimes, these kinds of tattoos do not even have any meanings. Instead, the wearer typically get them for their aesthetic value.
Nonetheless, here are some of the most general meanings and representations of octopus tattoos:
- Knowledge and intelligence
As mentioned above, the most common representation of an octopus tattoo is often adapted from its regenerative abilities. Once it loses its limbs, it can grow it back. As a tattoo, it can symbolize people’s ability to come back from tough situations.
These deep sea creatures are also very intelligent species. They can easily solve puzzles, especially when it means they can escape a place. They use their advanced minds to think of ways out. That can also be another representation of the tattoo.
Octopus versus Squid
The octopus is often deemed as the exact same creature as the squid and vice versa. However, this is entirely not true. They are separate unique species. There are indeed a few similarities between the two creatures, especially with the tentacles. But there are many great differences.
The two creatures both have eight limbs. However, a squid has two fins on its head plus another two tentacles. The octopus do not have any solid bones nor hard shells on their bodies. Meanwhile, the squid has this flexible backbone or the “pen”.
This is a rather important topic for those who wants to get an octopus tattoo. You have to be sure about the design you want. That being said, be clear of the animal that you want tatted on your body. Research beforehand not just of the designs you want but of the exact animal on your next ink.
What your Octopus Tattoo could Represent
Here are more of the most significant meanings of an octopus tattoo which could give you some inspiration for your ink.
- Flexibility and versatility – As said, an octopus does not have any solid bone in its body. Therefore, it is known as one of the most flexible animals in the world. In fact, it can fit itself into a hole much smaller than it is. In tattoo symbolism, flexibility can talk about someone’s versatility. Getting an octopus tattoo means that you are versatile. No matter what you do, you can adapt and learn easily. Despite facing various challenges in life, wearers are often able to cope with the situation and find a way out.
- Intelligence and creativity – Apart from being great at puzzles, an octopus is pretty much a great survivor. Thanks to its ability to adapt and camouflage, its ability to think of a possible escape or trap for its prey makes it easy to survive in the harsh underwater community. For octopus tattoo wearers, this could represent their intelligence and creativity. They can solve puzzles or analyze problems and situations to come up with solutions.
- Femininity – In some cultures, the octopus is a symbol of femininity because of its link to the ocean. The ocean is also associated with the moon, which in turn is a great symbol for femininity. This could be the reason why tattoo designs with an octopus is a common choice for women.
Popular Octopus Tattoo Designs and its Meanings
While some designs draw its meaning from the the main element itself, some designs can mean differently based on the position or the focus.
For example, a large octopus design the back with the tentacles wrapping around the shoulders, arms, and waist could mean mystery or power. This is a lot similar with some jellyfish tattoos.
If you focus on the eye of an octopus, this could mean either the past or the future. For some, they associate this with higher intelligence. An outstretched limb can also mean holding on to something or letting go. This could depend whether it is clutching or releasing something.
Of course, what it holds onto or releases could be another symbolic element. This can definitely turn your tattoo into a much different design with a more different meaning.
Octopus Tattoo Variations
If you are looking for specific tattoo designs for your next ink or you want to get an inspiration, we have some octopus tattoo variations. These could have different meanings. Then again, what your tattoo represents is entirely dependent on you.
- Cartoon octopus designs – Cartoon styles are never lost in the tattoo industry. While this is often a style that women choose, some men also prefer this. Although this style often makes the theme more cutesy and girly, it does not necessarily equal to that. Some choose this specific design as they can play around with the design. The cartoon facial features can make way to particular expressions that can make your tattoo look and feel different. You can make it look calm, devious, or fearsome. Cartoon styles make it easy to make your tattoo more unique.
- Blue ringed octopus – This certain species may be small. But this is quite the deadly creature. It is a venomous creature with a venom strong enough to kill a human. If you get this as a tattoo, it could mean that your outward appearance is far different from your personality. You may look small and fragile but you are ready and willing to strike when needed.
- Realistic tattoo – This is a common design for many octopus, sea, and animal lovers. A realistic octopus tattoo has great detail that usually makes the tattoo look exactly like the real thing. Instead of being drawn, it can look like it has been captured via camera. Of course, you will need a skilled artist to make this come true. There are over 300 species of octopus so you might want to start your research. Show the design to your artist so they can work on the colors and every detail to make it as real as possible.
Japanese Octopus Tattoo Design
The octopus is a great part of many cultures around the world. However, one of the most popular cultures that emulate the creature into their art is that of Japan’s. In Japanese mythology, the giant octopus-like mythical creature is known as Akkorokamui. This is very similar to the Kraken.
It is no wonder the Akkorokamui is a popular art theme. It appears in paintings and even in body art. Japanese style tattoos often incorporate other elements such as the lily. Apart from these elements, Japanese style tattoos have a different kind of aura as a whole.
Often, it includes vibrant colors of blues, oranges and purples. The drawing style is also a lot different.
Common Styles and Designs for your Octopus Tattoo
Apart from some of the variations we have, there are also some common styles that artists in the tattoo industry use now. Realistic and cartoon styles are two of these. Here are some more plus a few designs that you can do.
Minimalist tattoo style – This is a great option for women and for first timers. Those who want a delicate tattoo but still delivers a strong message can get a minimalist version. Usually, it just contains the line work of the tattoo. For example, it can be a pretty simple line work of an octopus. There is no need for the grueling details nor shadowing and coloring. This is a great design for first timers as it won’t be as painful as with other styles.
Dotted tattoo style – This style might be one of the most grueling techniques and yet the end results are often stunning. Basically, the tattoo artist will work with dots to create the whole design. There are usually no line works. Even the shading is done with dots. This can also be a good design for first timers and those who are still getting used to the pain of getting a tattoo.
3D tattoo style – This is often related to realistic tattoos. However, apart from getting every detail right, 3D styles strive to make the element “pop”. That being said, artists make use of shading and highlighting to make the tattoo appear “alive”; may it be over or under your skin. A good design is a hole in your skin that shows an underwater scene with a realistic looking octopus peering out. Just like with realistic tattoos, your tattoo artist should be extremely proficient in the style.
Watercolor tattoo style – This is another modern technique that is gaining popularity these days. Basically the tattoo includes pastel and washed out colors, seemingly like that of a watercolor painted on paper. The strokes are soft, sometimes with what appear as droplets as part of the design. For an octopus tattoo, you can turn the color into a watercolor style.
Octopus Tattoo Placement
The placement of an octopus tattoo greatly depends on its style. Yes, the wearer has the authority to choose the place where they want the tattoo to be. However, it is still much better to consider the design and the tattoo’s size.
Smaller tattoos are best placed on areas with just enough space for a small tattoo such as the wrists and the ankles. Usually putting it on areas with wider space often make the tattoo lose its value. It gets lost in all the space and can be easily ignored.
For medium-sized tattoos, you can always have it on the hands, arms, and legs. These are perfect places to play around with the design. It has enough space for the details.
Larger tattoos are best placed on the back and the chest. Ample space makes it perfect for bigger designs with more elements and a background. Some choose to even extend their tattoos to the shoulders and the arms. This would definitely work well with an octopus tattoo as you can extend its tentacles on some parts of the body.
Apart from the size, you’d also want to consider the pain level of each place. Getting a tattoo will definitely hurt but you can find some areas of the body with less pain, specifically areas with more fats and muscles.