An octopus releases ink to distract and scare off its predators- will your octopus tattoo do the same?
There are around 300 species of octopus, and they’re present in every ocean on earth.
This diversity, coupled with their otherworldly attributes, make these creatures a natural muse for tattoo artists.
They’re a popular design without being cliché, because octopuses are endlessly fascinating.
Let’s have some fun with symbolism, history, and more!
Not sure if an octopus tattoo is for you?
Read on- we’ll give you one reason for each of their 8 legs.
- Octopus Tattoos are Flattering
An octopus has no bones, so it can stretch into any shape and fit through the narrowest hole.
Why would this be advantageous in tattoo form? Simple.
One of the main goals of your tattoo artist is to make your new piece “fit” with your body.
If you’ve got plenty of curves and swerves, or other tattoos to work around, your artist can get creative.
An Octopus’s 8 legs can wrap themselves around you in all kinds of interesting ways.
Because octopuses are so flexible, there are no two octopus art pieces alike.
If you’re someone who enjoys the customization aspect of a great tattoo, an octopus design may be for you.
- An Octopus is an Intelligent Design
An Octopus tattoo may symbolize different things to different people, but they’re often symbols of:
Octopuses store 60% of their brain material in their flexible limbs, and only 10% in the central body part we would recognize as a brain.
They’re amazing problem solvers because they have flexible limbs that can literally think for themselves.
That kind of bodily intelligence is something we just can’t wrap our limited human minds around.
If you’ve ever gone down an octopus rabbit hole on YouTube, you know that octopuses don’t get discouraged easily.
They will always come up with a unique way to acquire food, escape danger, or get acclimatized to a new situation.
Are these traits you’d like to cultivate for yourself?
An octopus tattoo may be the perfect talisman.
- Octopuses Can Change to Suit Your Aesthetic
Why do chameleons get all the color-changing credit?
An octopus can change color more thoroughly and efficiently than any other animal.
It can even take on textures, patterns, and even “half and half” coloring to blend with its surroundings.
Some people think octopuses have dreams, because they change color in their sleep.
The jury’s still out, but they may be reacting to some sleepy time adventures of the mind.
What does this mean for you and your tattoo?
It means you can dream your wildest octopus tattoo dreams, and still have a realistic design.
They are perfect for both black and white and color enthusiasts alike.
Feel free to let your freak flag fly with a psychedelic design.
- They’re Legendary
The Hawaiian legend Kumulipo is a 2100 line song that takes about 3 hours to perform.
In this legend, the story of creation is told.
The story goes that the night sky is a leftover from a series of lifetimes before ours.
Several cosmic civilizations rose and fell before we came to the earth, and all life comes from the sea.
The only surviving earthly member of those previous cosmic lifetimes, is the god Kanaloa.
The god is represented on earth by the squid or the octopus, and is said to have existed since the beginning of time.
Kanaloa is the ruler of the ocean, a teacher of magic, and a god of the underworld.
This story exists in some different Polynesian cultures by different names with varying details.
Kumulipo also urges people to have a respect and love for the land, professing that humans are relatives to the earth and everything on it.
The song tells the people of Hawaii where they are, where they come from, and where they might go in the future.
So if you want a tattoo to show off your Hawaiian background and love for the ocean, consider the cosmic, mystical, magical octopus.
- They Might Be Aliens
Most people think of creation myths as a fun, somewhat novel way for humans to make sense of our existence.
But the ancient people of Hawaii may have been onto something.
Octopuses are remarkable creatures, not just because of the things they can do with their tentacles.
They’re remarkable because, as far as evolution goes, their level of intelligence is kind of a huge leap from one life form to another.
So how did they evolve into such intelligent creatures so quickly?
Around 2018, some scientists began to posit that octopuses are aliens. Really.
The idea isn’t that far fetched, considering how many meteors crashed onto the earth thousands of years ago.
The theory goes that those meteors would have carried frozen genetic “seeds” that then introduced new life forms to earth.
Kind of like when you travel over the border with exotic fruit.
The scientific community is divided on the issue, but octopuses think and behave differently than any other creature on earth- so it’s a compelling theory.
Do you want to believe?
- Octopuses are Erotic
Are you a kinkster, looking for a subtle way to signal your like-minded folks?
The Octopus actually has quite the sexy backstory.
It originated in Japanese culture, but is now a well-known subsection of global kink.
For centuries, people have found something sexual in octopus appendages.
There’s the slow sensual movements, the soft squishy skin, the many flexible limbs, and the suction cup tentacles to consider.
Not everyone’s cup of tea, but very alluring to a select few.
Fetishists, sex workers, or performance artists will adorn themselves with tentacles for these reasons.
Tentacle porn, or tentai, originated centuries ago.
Shunga, ancient Japanese erotica, were drawings of a sexual nature.
They featured people happily engaging in any number of sex acts.
These would be displayed proudly in the home or given as gifts.
In one very interesting art piece, a nude woman engages in sex with a couple of octopuses.
It’s divergent from other Shunga, but was popular nonetheless.
The piece, The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, was drawn by artist Hokusai in 1814.
As time went on and Westerners began to infiltrate the East, they were aghast at the Japanese attitude toward sex and nudity.
Westerners were as sex-obsessed as anyone, but they were surprised to see erotic artwork out in the open.
What’s more, the Japanese people had a pretty casual attitude toward nudity.
Even today, America has both a repressive attitude toward, and obsession with, sex.
And this rubbed off (no pun intended) on the Japanese people.
The government instituted laws for pornography.
Nudity was allowed, but genitals could not be penetrated on camera.
This was the exact opposite of the Shunga of Japan’s past.
Some crafty artists found a loophole, possibly because of our friend the Fisherman’s wife.
In the mid-late 1980’s, tentacle porn became popular in Manga and Hentai.
As the internet made things more accessible, many people awakened to their octopus affections.
So if you ask about someone’s octopus tattoo, brace yourself for a naughty answer!
- They Actually Do Have Gardens
Maybe you like octopuses just fine, but not in that way.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of PG rated octopus designs out there.
Big Ringo Starr fan, or a fan of cute things in general?
Why not show off your fandom octopus’s garden tattoo?
Octopuses are intelligent introverts.
Because they have no bones, they’re especially delicious to under sea predators.
They spend a lot of time in their favorite hiding spots, and can be alone in there for days at a time.
One especially adorable detail is that the octopus will decorate this hiding spot with shiny rocks, shells, and other interesting things they find on the ocean’s floor.
No one is sure why they do this.
Is it the aesthetic appeal and customization?
Is it that it helps them find their spot more easily?
Does it camouflage them from intruders?
Maybe all of the shaking and rattling helps alert them to danger.
For whatever reason, home decor is part of an octopus’s self care ritual.
Do you identify as someone who loves to be alone, surrounded by beautiful things?
Maybe a tattoo of an octopus, surrounded by its favorite treasures, is the right tattoo for you.
- They’re Playful
Just like humans, octopuses have individual personalities.
Some use their intelligence to contemplate their existence, while others use it to play pranks and mess with less intelligent creatures.
Octopuses have been known to cause all kinds of mayhem in aquariums.
This may include escaping to other tanks to snack on some fish, messing with equipment (one in Germany learned how to turn out the lights), and even finding their way back to the ocean.
Octopus can play, bond with humans, manipulate objects, and one even accurately predicted the winner of a football game.
Are you someone who loves to master new skills to make life more fun?
Maybe you’re related to our friend the octopus.
Common Themes in Octopus Tattoos
Have we sold you on the idea of some octopus ink?
Maybe you’ve wanted an octopus tattoo from the start, but you’re looking for ideas.
Here are a few of the most common designs we found in our internet deep dives:
Skull & Octopus Tattoos
Contemplating the mysteries of life and death?
The skull tattoo is a universal symbol for death and mortality, and the octopus tends to represent intelligence and creative thinking.
The two together can represent your fascination with existence itself.
It also just looks really bad-ass.
Mermaids & Octopus Tattoos
Were you meant for a life under the sea?
Looking to do a reverse Ariel?
You may not be able to transform into a mermaid, but you can show off your love of the ocean with this mystical marine homage.
Anchor & Octopus Tattoos
The divine balance in life: grounding yourself while staying curious and open to new information.
The flexible octopus, paired with a rigid anchor, is a perfect representation of this balance.
Maybe you’re a multitask-er, wishing you had a few extra limbs.
Maybe you like tentacles for some of the reasons we mentioned above.
Either way, this striking tattoo can give you an otherworldly quality.
Underwater Tattoos & Octopus Tattoos
Looking for a large piece?
We’ve seen some beautiful undersea landscapes as tattoos.
And they just wouldn’t be the same without our eight legged friend.
Octopus Tattoo Designs
You can’t go wrong with this fascinating, intelligent, and creative creature.
There are so many designs and interpretations to choose from, where will you begin?
Take a swim through our octopus tattoo gallery for some eight legged inspiration!
Illustrative Octopus Tattoos
Black-work Octopus Tattoos
Dot-work Octopus Tattoos
Graphic Octopus Tattoos
Japanese Octopus Tattoos
Neo-traditional Octopus Tattoos
Minimalist Octopus Tattoos
New School Octopus Tattoos
Realistic Octopus Tattoos
Geometric Octopus Tattoos
Single Needle Octopus Tattoos
Sketchy Octopus Tattoos
Tribal Octopus Tattoos
Watercolor Octopus Tattoos
Contemporary Octopus Tattoos
Octopus Tattoo Ideas
Black & Grey Octopus Tattoos
Octopus Tattoo Sleeve
Small Octopus Tattoos
Purple Octopus Tattoos
Octopus Tattoo Artists