Are you someone who loves to blaze new hiking trails and sleep under the stars?
Join the growing number of modern people who have embraced getaways in the great outdoors as a way to detox from our increasingly fast-paced way of city life.
As tattoos become more commonplace and old fashioned “living off the land” hobbies become more popular, we’re seeing a lot of inky odes to mother nature.
This can serve as a tribute to “slow living”, a movement where people remove the clutter and chaos that so often fills our lives to forage, frolic, and play outside.
As our collective carbon footprint reaches an all-time high, a nature tattoo can also be a little promise you make to yourself.
You may want to embrace healthy new habits and spend more time appreciating this beautiful earth we live on.
When you get a little piece of nature tattooed on you, you’ve got a little reminder of that promise by your side.
Nature belongs to everyone, so anyone can get a nature tattoo.
The only problem with nature tattoos is narrowing down your choices!
Will you pay homage to your beloved childhood cabin, or maybe get a simple tree design?
We have compiled a few outdoorsy tattoo ideas for all you nature lovers out there.
Main Themes in Nature Tattoos
When it comes to nature tattoos, there are no rules.
Some people want sprawling flower tattoos and vines wrapped in romantic patterns around their torso.
You might like a clean, modest landscape contained within a circle or triangle.
Black and grey can be an interesting choice for nature tattoos, but why not take advantage of nature’s color palette?
Is there anything more nostalgic than a campfire?
They’re a beautiful reminder of childhood memories for many people.
Did you spend your summers at camp?
This may conjure up feelings of first crushes, ghost stories, smores, and wearing matching bracelets with your BFF.
If you’re an adventurer in your adult life, you know that one of the greatest parts of an expedition is the end of the night, when everyone relaxes and shares their favorite stories around a roaring fire.
Campfire tattoos are also excellent symbols for people in storytelling professions.
Maybe you’re a writer, performer, or public speaker.
The best, spookiest stories are usually told around a campfire, so this tattoo design can also be an excellent choice for someone who loves a scary story.
If you’ve decided to get a nature tattoo, consider how you’re going to incorporate water.
Do you want something tranquil, like a glassy lake?
Or do you want to add a little action and adventure with a waterfall feature?
Waterfall tattoos can represent different things to different people.
For an adventurous type, this tattoo design may represent their connection to the water, and the exciting feelings they get from it.
This may be an excellent choice for a kayak-er or white water rafter.
For spiritual folks, waterfalls may represent blessings, a spiritual cleansing, or big dreams one hopes to accomplish.
Because waterfalls maintain a constant dynamic flow, they can represent balance and focus in your life.
You can live life to the max without burning yourself out, and that’s something the waterfall teaches us.
Mountain tattoos have so many beautiful symbolic meanings.
From the human perspective, a mountain represents something giant, seemingly insurmountable.
This could be a powerful tattoo design for someone who has just overcome a big hardship, or who is embarking on a heroic journey.
From the perspective of the mountain itself, a mountain represents a kind of majestic stillness.
The mountain is unmoved, unchanged by all the chaos that surrounds it.
Storms come and go, animals live and die, and people may explore its peaks, but the mountain remains the same.
A mountain tattoo may be there to remind you to maintain a meditative state of mind.
The difficult events of your life happen and are even inevitable in some cases. But they don’t have to knock you down.
Wolf & Nature Tattoos
Animals add rich texture to nature tattoos and can communicate your vision more clearly.
The animal you choose will change the way people interpret your tattoo, and will altar the spiritual meaning of the design.
Wolf and nature tattoos are a popular choice and for good reason.
Wolves are powerfully spiritual animals.
Because they’re distant cousins to our friend the dog but are much wilder, they feel both familiar and enchanting at the same time.
In a nature tattoo design, wolf tattoos represent instinctual intelligence.
They can also represent family bonds, or perhaps you consider yourself a “lone wolf.”
They may also symbolize someone who feels a deep connection to the earth, and wants to honor their primal/instinctual side.
As a classic fixture in tattoo design, a wolf and nature tattoo will give a nod to tattoo history as well.
Bear & Nature Tattoos
Second only to wolves in terms of popularity are bears.
Bear tattoos are another common design, but they’re far from common looking.
Bear and nature tattoos can be tender & sweet, bold & majestic, or downright fearsome.
In a nature tattoo, a bear can represent many things.
Mainly, it represents courage and strength.
It can also represent safety and protection to someone with a family, or who has a strong tie to their parents.
The term “mamma bear” is often used for a woman who is very protective of her children, because bears work hard to protect their cubs.
If you’ve ever observed bears, you know they have a sense of play.
Despite being amazing hunters and somewhat imposing, there’s something clownish about a bear.
They can represent a sweet relationship with nature, a sense of curiosity and play within the wearer themselves.
It is no surprise of the popularity of getting a sunset tattooed on your body.
The majority of people have seen the sunset, and it is a breathtaking view.
A sunset possesses a unique quality that it can morph into a different view depending on the location.
The sun setting over a body of water is a glistening experience.
The hues of the orange and daisy yellow bouncing off the water make for incredible scenery.
Others might experience the sun setting behind a mountain range, causing the sky to mix with pinks and purples.
A sunset tattoo can represent the inevitable that the day will always end, and it is still beautiful, or that there is always a new beginning to be had.
Sunset tattoos are often shared with couples as a romantic send-off to be shared, and many times a peaceful calm radiates over you as you witness the sun saying goodnight.
No matter the reasoning, a sunset tattoo is an incredibly magnificent picture to add to your body.
Typically, when one thinks of a desert, what comes to mind is the sand, a hot and dry climate, and a prickly plant we might not be acquainted too, but most know as the cactus.
For a plant to be able to not only survive but thrive in such harsh conditions says a lot about this spiny, green plant.
A desert scene with some cactus could represent strength, adaptability, and resilience.
It is a survivor against many odds.
If someone has gone through a demanding experience but still lives today as a winner or victorious, a desert tattoo would be a great option.
A cactus has a tough exterior, but even through the harsh conditions, life still grows.
Flowers bloom through their pointy thorns.
This is another excellent example of symbolism if one resonates with themselves in that way.
In history, the Native Americans would carve cactus pictures on stones and keep them around their homes.
They are spiritual people who believed it would protect them.
A desert tattoo represents a ruthless climate, but yet survival can be had despite it.
Beach tattoos can be inked in an array of ways.
There are plenty of elements to choose from that represent the beach; a sunset or sunrise overlooking the ocean, seashells, palm trees, ocean waves, sailboats, anchors, mermaids, sea animals, and much more.
The possibilities are endless, between a big, boisterous scene or a small minimalist adoration to the beach.
Bright colors can make a bold statement to your piece, or black and white will give it that classic look.
Either way, there are many ways to portray the beach.
A beach tattoo can represent different meanings, depending on the person.
It can be a memory of one summer that was incredibly meaningful, or it could be a reminder of home for someone that lives in a tropical climate year-round.
The beach is a way one can depict the relaxing sounds of the ocean and the fun that comes with playing in the sand.
Elements of Nature Tattoo
It’s important to choose something from nature that has personal meaning to you.
Something may have a certain meaning within a spiritual practice or religion, but your personal symbolism could be much different.
Based on your experiences in the world, you write your own symbolism.
So use this as a guide, but make sure to check in with yourself and see what resonates with you.
Let’s break nature down into four categories based on Earth, Air, Water, and Fire.
This may feel like an all-encompassing one, but there are certain aspects of nature that have more of that “earth” energy than others.
Earth is a grounding element.
Earth tones are generally shades of brown or greens, reds, yellows, and oranges with a hint of brown to them.
These colors are not often seen in tattoos but when utilized properly, they can create a really stunning image.
It corresponds to your root chakra and speaks to security, feeling in balance, and setting a stable foundation for yourself.
Some examples of nature tattoos that would represent the element of earth are:
- Roots Tattoos
Roots tattoos can represent your history, the people and places that lead you to be who you are today.
They can also symbolize a feeling of stability, a feeling that you are exactly where you need to be.
Getting a tattoo with visible roots can be your way of saying that you are at peace with yourself or that you’ve found your home.
- Tree Tattoos
Tree tattoos represent unity, your connection to all that is.
Trees grow so high and branch out so far, they can represent a feeling of being liberated spiritually.
What do you think of when you think of an airy space or person?
You probably get a sense of lightness, maybe even a dreamy quality.
The element of air is all about creativity, spirituality, all of those beautiful intangible concepts.
Feather tattoos can represent spiritual wisdom and freedom, and in many traditions, it is used to symbolize ascended masters.
Have you had a special experience with a certain kind of bird?
Feathers can be a delicate way to pay homage to nature.
- Cloud Tattoos
Do you ever look at a cloud and think about the shapes it’s making, what it looks like?
Cloud tattoos represent dreams, imagination, and your higher self.
Put some fluffy clouds in your nature tattoo to give it a peaceful, dreamy feeling.
Water is clarity.
You’ve likely seen water used in your favorite movies, TV shows, or comic books when a character undergoes a huge transformation.
Water can be about rebirth, becoming the best version of yourself.
There’s a reason they use water in baptismal rituals, after all.
- Wave Tattoos
Wave tattoos can represent powerful emotions coming to the surface.
Waves can shatter things, but if you surrender to a wave you’re better off.
They can represent saying “yes” to the chaos around you and learning how to work with the cards you’ve been dealt.
Intuitively, you know what fire means.
Fire is passion, energy, your vivacity, the energy you have to do the things you love to do.
Fire can bring a sense of excitement to your nature tattoo.
- Sun Tattoos
The sun is a powerful symbol of positivity, masculine energy, and life.
Getting a tattoo of the sun will symbolize energy and passion.
Nature Tattoo Designs
- Black-work Nature Tattoos
In a black-work tattoo, a striking contrast is achieved between saturated black and negative space.
There are no shades of gray in a black-work tattoo.
The image is purposefully 2D with bold sections of black and thick outlines.
The final effect has a kind of whimsical feel without being cutesy or cartoony.
Black-work Nature Tattoos feel fresh and modern.
The one risk you run with more realistic styles is that nature tattoos can look a little cheesy when they’re not tattooed properly.
The stripped-down quality of a black-work tattoo captures the charm of outdoor life while keeping it classy.
That isn’t to say you don’t need a talented artist to pull off this style.
Take the time to find an artist who excels at black-work tattoo designs, and you’ll be happy you did.
Besides, it’s always more fun to work with a tattoo artist who loves your chosen medium and is pumped to pull off the design.
- Geometric Nature Tattoos
Geometric tattoos break everything down into their basic geometric forms, sometimes adding realistic color and detail for a mind-bending final effect.
It’s an interesting approach to organic subject matter because it blends something that feels “natural” to the eye with something that feels more “manufactured” or analytical.
It’s a fun design idea for someone who loves to break things down to their purest forms.
Geometric nature tattoos are also artistic in an exciting way.
Much like traditional tattoos, they aren’t trying to represent things exactly as they look in nature.
They’re representing something “real” in an imaginative new way.
And it’s always fun when a tattoo can give you a new visual perspective on something.
These tattoos are somewhat trendy at the moment, but they have the visual interest and simplicity to be around for a long time.
- Dot-work Nature Tattoos
Dot-work tattoos come from the Pointillism movement in art, which came after impressionism.
In impressionist art, long and fast brush strokes are used to create a piece that’s something of an illusion.
Up close, it just looks like a bunch of random splotches of color.
But as you move farther away from the piece, you see an image.
Pointillism uses a similar approach, but with hundreds and thousands of tiny dots.
The dots will be closer or farther apart, as well as larger/smaller to create a final image.
Dot-work tattoos can have a soft, dream-like effect but can also be combined with bold outlines for something more striking.
Dot-work nature tattoos are an interesting and artsy way to pay homage to your favorite landscape.
- Watercolor Nature Tattoos
Nature is not perfect or pristine.
It’s messy, it has movement and flux and there’s always something dying off to make room for new growth.
In watercolor nature tattoos, that ever-changing essence is captured in a breathtaking way.
Watercolor tattoos feature layered “washes” of color for an effect that looks just like a watercolor painting.
This can be remarkably beautiful when considering subject matter like sunsets or shimmering water.
These tattoos are gaining in popularity, but the style is so customizable that you never need to worry about having the same ink as everybody else.
- Minimalist Nature Tattoos
Do you live a minimalist lifestyle?
The minimalist life suits many outdoorsy types because they need to be able to travel with little more than their gear, themselves, and the essentials for survival.
This is the same mentality in a minimalist tattoo design: to break something down to its essence without gilding the lily.
Minimalist tattoos are a natural fit for outdoor adventurers because it matches their mentality.
It can also be an excellent design for someone who finds tranquility in the stillness of nature.
Or someone with a happy memory of a simple spot.
No matter your reason for getting a minimalist nature tattoo, these designs prove that less is definitely more.
- Neo-traditional Nature Tattoos
Neo-traditional nature tattoos are beautiful.
Everything about the Neo-traditional tattoo style makes it perfect to capture the beauty of nature in a fun, stylized way.
The reason this style is called Neo-traditional is that, even though they look different, this style is rooted in the traditional tattoo style.
The bold, packed-in colors go from wall to wall.
The lines are thick, and the images are purposefully illustrated rather than realistic.
There are key differences between the two styles.
Traditional tattoos will use uniform line weights that flow in one direction to create precise shapes.
It’s a 2D look that feels bold, purposefully less realistic, and somewhat heavy.
Neo-traditional tattoo designs may feature lines that change in weight and curve around.
They still have a 2D feeling, but there’s a touch more depth.
This makes the style perfect for nature tattoos because they have an organic feel.
The color palettes in Neo-traditional works tend to be somewhat muted and organic versions of brighter shades, so they capture nature beautifully.
- Realistic Nature Tattoos
When done properly, a realistic nature tattoo is a sight to see.
These styles don’t try to mess with a good thing, so if you have a favorite snap from your last camping trip, a realistic tattoo artist will bring it to life as is.
The fun thing about realistic tattoos, as opposed to photo-realistic pieces (which are also beautiful!), is that some surreal elements can be incorporated for an artistic feel.
Check out the skin ripped design below for an idea of this effect.
- Graphic Nature Tattoos
“Graphic” is a broad term that can apply to many visually striking styles.
In these graphic nature tattoos, several visually striking styles are blended to create an overall effect that feels artistic and surreal.
In the tattoo world, “graphic” tends to refer to anything fresh, innovative, exciting, and highly visually stimulating.
- Abstract Nature Tattoos
Abstract art is a fun way to get playful with your nature tattoo design.
In an abstract nature tattoo, natural elements are turned on their heads to create a mind-bending final effect.
If you’re struggling to define abstract art for yourself, think of a famous artist like Picasso.
In his paintings, you know what something is supposed to be, but it’s been scrambled into a different order than you would expect.
Artists have been pushing the envelope since Picasso’s time, and have found all kinds of unique ways to inspire awe in their admirers.
As tattoos become popular with a broader crowd, more of these classic art forms come to the party.
- Traditional Nature Tattoos
Nature Tattoo Ideas
When it comes to nature tattoos, the sky’s the limit!
Reach into your favorite memories and find some inspiration there.
Not sure how to capture your last camping trip in a tattoo?
Check out our gallery for some natural inspiration!
- Small Nature Tattoos
There’s something so sweet about a petite nature tattoo, isn’t there?
These micro tattoos pack a big punch, and they’re easy to hide if you’re looking for a sneaky tattoo.
Small nature tattoos can have just as much detail as larger pieces, but it’s best to find an artist who specializes in this teensy style.
- Black & Grey Nature Tattoos
Using washes of diluted black ink, black & grey tattoos create lovely pieces, usually in a portrait style.
These gorgeous black and grey nature tattoos prove that you don’t need color to create a lush feeling in a nature tattoo.
You can capture all the majesty in classic black and grey, plus now you have a tattoo that goes with any ensemble.
- Nature Tattoo Sleeve
Sleeves are an effective way to tell a story.
You can capture more than one of your favorite elements in a nature tattoo sleeve, so you don’t have to choose between mountains and waterfalls, or wolves and bears.
Planning a sleeve ahead of time with a theme in mind makes for a beautiful, cohesive piece.
- Yin Yang Nature Tattoos
There’s a divine balance to nature.
Land and sea, plant and animal, predator and prey, it all moves in cycles.
We need both the night sky and the sun to keep nature alive and thriving.
In basic terms, that’s the concept of yin and yang.
Opposing forces working together to create perfection as a whole.
We think these Yin Yang Nature tattoos are a gorgeous way to reflect an ancient concept that ripples through our daily lives.
- Triangle Nature Tattoos
The juxtaposition between organic/natural shapes and a more geometric look is something we love to see.
Having something wild contained within something perfect and symmetrical is just satisfying to look at.
Which triangle nature tattoo is your favorite?
Nature Tattoo Placement
As far as nature goes, there is no denying the number of elements that form the forest, the beach, the mountains, etc.
With those elements come small details that would look fantastic on a larger scale.
So when determining the placement of your tattoo, be aware of what will showcase those tiny details.
Consider a more prominent part of your body.
Your back is a large area, or even your leg can illuminate all the little details that come with a nature scene.
Forearm Nature Tattoos
For those who aren’t afraid to showcase their artwork, a forearm tattoo is an excellent placement.
It is a small enough space to portray your nature tattoo but large enough to make a bold statement still, whether it is a bold and vibrant sunset or a classic black and white mountain view.
Despite the tattoo of your choosing, the forearm is a timeless choice to show off your ink.
Upper Arm Nature Tattoos
A magnificent element of nature is an array of cascading themes; an elegant waterfall, the roots of a tree digging deep into the earth, or even the roots of a flower dispersing through the soil.
These scenes need a more extended area on your body to be able to depict the whole image.
Next time you consider one of these breathtaking tattoos, your upper arm is an excellent placement to do it justice.
Nature Tattoo Artists
As discussed many times throughout this page, nature tattoos come with many details and intricate design work.
One should only hire an incredibly skilled and talented artist, which might mean a longer wait time to be booked or more money to get the job done right.
Make sure you do your research and look through their portfolio of something similar you are looking for.
It is worth taking your time and saving your money because, as you know, tattoos are permanent, and you want it done right the first time!