Skull Tattoo Meanings
There’s no doubt that every culture on this earth has a meaning for the skull tattoo because no one in this life is untouched by death (it’s hard not to be morbid when we bring up the skull).
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for these tattoo meanings.
Skulls bring out meanings of courageousness and strength in the face of death, which are great themes for anyone’s next tattoo.
Here are the key meanings behind skull tattoos:
- Fearlessness of Death
If you’re wearing a skull tattoo, you most likely want to show people and yourself that you are not afraid of death.
The skull tattoo represents your relationship with death and wearing it on your arm, leg, or wherever you choose, can be a reminder every day that you have no fear of the beyond.
The skull tattoo also represents a new start to life: or a rebirth.
The skull represents how a near-death experience may have touched your life and made you feel reborn.
If you want to honor someone who has died in s symbolic way, the skull tattoo may be the way to go.
In this type of tattoo, you may want to add design elements that remind you of that loved one so that the skull can be tattooed in a way that honors their memory.
There may just be nothing more tough in life than death.
Not only that, but skulls have always been a symbol of courageousness and being rugged.
The skull tattoo symbolizes that you are a tough person who can handle pretty much anything.
Skull Tattoo Meanings Across Various Cultures
When one thinks of a skull tattoo, the first thing that comes to mind is death.
But there’s more to the skull tattoo than that: each one of these cultures has a unique perception of the meaning of the skull.
In tattoo form, the skull can represent a lot more than just death.
Here are some meanings of skull tattoos from around the world:
- Japanese Skull Tattoo Meanings
Japanese skull tattoos are all about the challenge it is to be alive and to fight another day.
Often part of a large tattoo that mixes a lot of different symbolism, you may use the Japanese skull tattoo as part of a greater meaning about your personal challenges in life.
The tattoo can represent the hopes you have for your life or your strength in fighting against an illness.
- Skull Tattoo Meaning in Prison
People in prison can use skulls everywhere– including the neck and face.
It’s typically meant to scare people and make people know that they are tough and could kill someone if they wanted to.
It’s a sign of dominance and power.
- Egyptian Skull Tattoo Meaning
It is believed that today’s skull and bone tattoo comes from the Egyptian pharaoh’s symbol on their tombs.
There would be two crossed scepters carved into the tomb, which is how most likely the skull and bones symbol came to be.
Death is a large part of Ancient Egyptian culture.
Unlike some modern societies where it is taboo to talk about such things, death wove itself into the fabric of everyday Egyptian life.
Part of this accepting attitude toward death was the commonly held belief that there is an afterlife.
Having an Egyptian skull tattoo often indicates that your belief systems align with the Ancient Egyptian mindset: You believe that life goes on and are comfortable with the subject matter.
You may also be a history buff, fancying yourself a bit of an Indiana Jones type.
Since the pharaoh typical reminds one of death, the half pharaoh half skull tattoo also alludes to death, or everlasting life after death just as the Egyptians believed.
- Tibetan Skull Tattoo Meanings
Often decorated with gems or jewels, Tibetan skull tattoos are based on the kapala, which is a Buddhist or Hindu skull cup, the most elaborate of which is from Tibet.
Used to give offerings to deities, these cups often hold dessert or wine, and as tattoos, they symbolize spiritual intelligence and protection from evil spirits.
In traditional Tibetan spirituality, a “kapala,” or skull, is decorated and used in ritual work to hold offerings to deities.
A Tibetan skull tattoo can also symbolize your ascent to the other side, what you want to take with you to your next life on earth.
- Mexican Skull Tattoo Meanings
Mexican skull tattoos are often sugar skulls, which are used to decorate for the Day of the Dead.
Sugar skull tattoos are often done to honor the dead, just as the holiday celebrates.
This tattoo can also symbolize life after death and the connection between life and death.
- Viking Skull Tattoos
Viking tattoos are already epic.
Viking skull tattoos are metal.
This tattoo design can mean many things, depending on where you get your Viking lore.
The Viking skull tattoo may signify an interest in Norse mythology.
It can also mean you aspire to be a ruthless warrior like the (often exaggerated) Vikings in pop culture.
- Jolly Roger & Pirate Skull Tattoo Meanings
Seen on flags, the skull and crossbones have become iconic imagery.
Today, we’ve forgotten the atrocious nature of pirate life.
We instead see swashbuckling heroes who live off the grid and wear cool clothes.
A skull and crossbones tattoo may be an intimidation tactic, but usually a playful one.
Jolly Roger tattoos suit someone a bit cheeky who won’t always behave the way you expect them to.
That, or someone who grew up watching the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
If you decide to have this brilliant design tattooed on you, you are sure to be a confident and self-assured person who relies only on yourself.
The pirate is rogue living under their own rules.
When it comes to a pirate’s view of death, a pirate is reckless with death and they live their lives constantly being on the edge of getting killed.
The pirate skull tattoo means that this is your view of how to live life– on the edge.
Someone with this tattoo design may think of themselves as a rebel.
A pirate skull tattoo can be both an intimidation tactic and a calling card.
It keeps the landlubbers out and attracts like-minded rogues.
- Skull Tattoo Meaning in Hindi
As we discussed, the skull refers to the kapala in both Hindu and Buddhist tantra.
Hindu deities that the kapala may involve are Durga, Kali, and Shiva.
Durga may be depicted as wearing a garland of skulls, while Kali may be shown using a kapala to catch blood draining out of a severed head.
This imagery represents the god it is depicting, and their relation to life and death.
- Native American Skull Tattoo Meaning
Native American skull tattoos have powerful symbolism.
Often designed wearing a feathered headdress, and sometimes with the addition of jewels or a rose in the eye of the skeleton, these tattoos mean wisdom, respect for your ancestors, peace for mankind, and power.
Many, of course, get this tattoo as an ode to their Native American ancestry.
However, the tattoo is not exclusive to any type of person.
Indian skulls can vary from tribe to tribe, but overall the tattoo is one that conveys strength, legacy, and power to all who see it.
One of the most powerful meanings behind the Indian skull tattoo is the culture and tribe that the tattoo style is drawn from.
Indian skull tattoos are powerful and traditional symbols of strength, dignity, passion, and fierce pride.
This type of skull tattoos has several main themes in addition to cultural variations and ideas that present themselves across the world.
Popular Indian skull tattoos feature bright and colorful headdresses that are the breathtaking central figures of the tattoo.
These large feathers and powerful headdresses can represent the fierceness and intensity of the warrior in question as well as the cultural connection to a specific tribe, making these the perfect symbol of fight and strength.
The Indian skull tattoo is well suited to someone with a Native American background who wishes to honor their tribe’s traditions and ancestors.
This image may also have a darker meaning- the skull speaks to the struggle of Indigenous tribes, who have historically encountered violence while being forced out of their land.
Indian skull tattoos don’t need to be heavily colored to be powerful and striking.
Dark shading, negative space, powerful sketching, and sharp outlines make these tattoos especially powerful.
The Indian skull tattoo can mean powerful protection and signs of fierce defense and warriors against any threat or danger.
Some people choose their specific Indian skull tattoo to honor a specific ancestor or Indian warrior in their bloodline.
The Indian skull tattoo is a common American traditional tattoo motif and has a beautiful legacy of powerful American history and tattoo styles as well.
- Gypsy Skull Tattoo Meaning
A gypsy symbolically represents freedom, individuality, and traveling.
When a gypsy tattoo has a face that is a skull, it means that you are honoring a past loved one who had some of these traits.
Gypsy skull tattoos usually speak to a mystical gypsy stereotype, someone who lives a transient lifestyle and reads fortunes.
This tattoo may represent an interest in the occult and mysticism.
- Aztec Skull Tattoo Meaning
The Aztecs believed in sacrifice and kept the skulls of ceremonies on a rack in temples, called the “tzompantli”.
Today, we view human sacrifice as an evil occurrence but for them, it was all done for the Gods.
The Aztec skull tattoo meaning is that you are not to be messed with.
If you a tattoo referring to a “skull rack,” I wouldn’t mess with you, either.
Body Placement Meanings
Body placement is everything.
A skull is a very versatile tattoo symbol so it is able to be placed pretty much anywhere.
That’s the great part about the skull tattoo: it’s a classic.
The following are some bold places to place a skull tattoo and what they mean.
- Skull Tattoo Meaning on Hand
Skull tattoos on the hand are fun because you can hold your palm up to your face and make yourself look like a skeleton.
When you wear a tattoo on your hand, you want everyone to see it instantly.
Therefore, it symbolizes that you are a tough person who’s either been through a lot or will win in a fight (or both).
- Skull Tattoo Meaning on Finger
Much like the skull tattoo on a hand, the finger is a prevalent spot for a skull tattoo and you know that everyone will notice it.
The skull is one of the most popular images to get on the finger.
It tends to be a remembrance for the death of loved ones or the mark of a brush with death.
- Skull tattoo Meaning on Neck
The neck is one of the more bold placements for a tattoo.
Because of this, the skull neck tattoo means you are reckless to the point that you have either had a near-death experience because of it or are always ready for the next dangerous adventure.
Skull Tattoo Styles
Mixing meanings and themes of all kinds together, tattoo styles of the skull are plentiful.
Have you narrowed downs some ideas for your skull tattoo?
There are so many directions to go in, it’s hard to choose the right one.
Never fear, browse our favorite skull tattoo styles for a little ghoulish inspiration.
Black & Grey Skull Tattoos
Black and grey tattoos are a natural match for a skull tattoo design.
It’s probably more common to see skull tattoos in black and grey than any other tattoo style, but there’s always a way to make it your own.
Black and grey skull tattoo designs can capture a somber tone or look really bad-ass, so it’s perfect for more maudlin and “tough” designs.
Black-work Skull Tattoos
Black-work skull tattoos have a less realistic, more illustrative feel than black and grey tattoo pieces.
The tattoo style is characterized by large sections of saturated black ink, which takes a skilled hand to pull off properly.
Black-work tattoos are fairly versatile and can be designed to suit your vibe.
If you want a tattoo that feels in the pop-art/cartoon/comic book vein but don’t want anything too kitschy or colorful, black-work may be your perfect match.
Neo-traditional Skull Tattoos
Neo-traditional tattoos take the refined and original style of American traditional tattoos and modernize them with finer lines and brighter color palettes that spread throughout the entire tattoo.
Neo-traditional tattoos are characterized by smooth, highly saturated sections of color.
Neo-traditional skull tattoos often have a lot of personality.
Skull tattoos drawn in this style can feel menacing, playful, or some combination of the two.
With color palettes that feel organic and almost “antique” in nature, a Neo-traditional skull is a great idea if you want to play with color in a beautiful, elegant way.
The finer shading and detailing help to emphasize the delicate nature of the skull tattoo as well as bringing out the fierceness of the feathers and the fire.
Dot-work Skull Tattoos
If you’re looking for a skull tattoo piece that feels serious, but not in a doom and gloom way, consider a dot-work skull tattoo.
This tattoo style is inspired by the pen and ink art medium and can have a very sophisticated look.
A dot-work tattoo piece is achieved by incorporating thousands of tiny dots into the design.
The dots will be spaced either looser or denser to create the illusion of depth and shadow.
Though it is a painstaking process, you can’t argue with the final results.
Dot-work skull tattoos are gorgeous, artistic, and unique.
Illustrative Skull Tattoos
As you can see, illustrative is a broad term in the tattoo world.
Illustrative tattoos have an artistic flair.
They aren’t as realistic as portrait tattoos, but they’re not necessarily as stylized as a Neo-traditional tattoo piece.
The defining feature of this genre is that your skull tattoo will look like a drawing rather than a photo.
There aren’t necessarily any rules for how to draw a proper illustrative skull tattoo, so you and your tattooer can get creative.
This is an excellent tattoo style if you’re looking for a custom piece, especially based on graphic characters.
American Traditional Skull Tattoos
Proud and strong, the American traditional skull tattoo combines bold colors and rustic imagery.
American traditional is a common tattoo style that relies on bold outlining and thick coloring to create beautiful and striking American traditional styles that represent historic Americana symbols.
The American traditional skull tattoo is all about being bold, bad-ass, and rebellious.
The skull tattoo designs in American traditional tattooing say you’re going to live how you want to live, even if it’s reckless.
You exist outside of society’s conventions.
Consequently, traditional skull tattoos are easy to personalize.
A traditional skull tattoo acknowledges the closeness of life and death, as part of a cyclical nature.
This is a common part of life, and the traditional skull tattoo is a fantastic piece about reinvention.
Realistic Skull Tattoos
In the realistic tattoo style, every detail pops.
These realistic skull tattoos combine vivid, life-like details with artistic elements for a stunning final result.
Realistic Black & Grey Skull Tattoos
Black and grey is a classic look, and it’s a nice choice if you want your ink to be striking without looking flashy.
These realistic black and grey skull tattoos have impressive levels of depth, light, and shadow.
If you want your skull tattoo to turn heads, this is a reliable way to go.
Etching Skull Tattoos
As their name suggests, etching tattoos look like wood carvings.
Your tattoo artist will use black ink with unique shading patterns to give an “etched in” illusion to the skin.
This tattoo style often has a classic, retro feel despite being a modern tattoo technique.
An etching skull tattoo is a piece that will look timeless while standing out from the pack.
There’s an intensity to this tattoo style that will grab people’s attention from across the room.
Depending on the tattoo design, it could be a calling card or a “do not disturb” sign for the people who see it.
New School Skull Tattoos
The style may be called, “New School”, but it originally made its way onto the tattoo scene as early as the ’70s and has developed through time.
New School tattoos are characterized by thick, bold outlines and bright colors, which makes the skull tattoo design seem almost cartoon-like.
A new school tattoo is fun. It’s just a great time.
Because of their cartoonish and exaggerated characteristics, it’s interesting to apply new school tattoo techniques to the maudlin subject matter.
It takes the piss out of more serious works and would be an excellent tattoo idea if you want something to remind you not to take life so seriously.
That’s not to say that a new school tattoo can’t be stunning, it’s just that they’re always going to have a bit of a wink to them.
New School tattoos have a sense of movement to them, so they’re great for more dynamic concepts.
If you’re not one to shy away from bright colors and cartoony characters, a new school skull tattoo is bound to impress.
Graphic Skull Tattoos
Like illustrative, graphic tattoo style is a broad term.
A graphic skull tattoo could really draw inspiration from anything.
What separates it from other tattoo styles is its often abstract tattoo designs and geometric elements.
Graphic tattoo designs often play with symmetry, which is well suited if you want your skull tattoo to have that ancient, occult-inspired vibe.
Geometric Skull Tattoos
Geometric skull tattoos have an exciting contrast between mathematical, symmetrical shapes and more organic lines.
The final result in a geometric tattoo design is modern without being trendy and has a high visual impact.
Trash Polka Skull Tattoos
If you want a highly graphic skull tattoo with just a splash of color, consider something in the Trash Polka tattoo style.
Trash polka is not a style every artist can pull off, so be sure to do your research before booking a consultation.
Trash polka tattoo style uses blacks, grays, and reds in a kind of collage aesthetic.
It will often layer more realistic pieces with graphic tattoo elements to create a stunning overall effect.
A realistic skull done properly in the Trash Polka tattoo style is unforgettable.
Ornamental Skull Tattoos
You want a tattoo with a major impact.
You want something that’s been decorated down to the last detail.
In an ornamental skull tattoo, every inch of the design is ornate.
Decorative elements are added to every blank space for a tattoo piece that feels fancy and flashy.
If you want a complex skull tattoo, that you can stare at all day and still find something new, consider an ornamental tattoo design.
Watercolor Skull Tattoos
Watercolor tattoo style is a new, innovative technique that’s taking over the tattoo scene.
Once thought of as a passing fad, the watercolor tattoo style has proven that, when done properly, it can stand the test of time.
In a watercolor tattoo, your piece will either be without a black outline or have pieces that intentionally “bleed” over top of one.
The watercolor tattoo technique is done with layers of color “washes” to achieve the same effect watercolor paintings have on paper.
Watercolor skull tattoos can feel poignant and ethereal, playful and graphic, or some combination of the two.
Many people enjoy mixing watercolor tattoo techniques with black and grey tattoo styles.
This is an especially effective approach to a watercolor skull tattoo, as it reflects the theme of the birth/death cycle.
Single Needle Skull Tattoos
Single needle tattoo pieces have a soft, pencil-drawn style to them.
Unlike most tattoos where liners and shades are used to create different effects, a single needle tattoo will use one fine needle throughout.
The resulting tattoo pieces have a soft, delicate feeling to them.
But that doesn’t mean your single needle skull tattoo can’t pack a powerful punch.
There are plenty of ghoulish effects that can be made with a single tattoo needle.
Sketchy Skull Tattoos
If you love the pencil-drawn effect of a single needle tattoo but want something with more dynamic shading, sketchy tattoo designs are just that.
Sketch tattoos are made to look as if they were torn from the pages of an artist’s sketchbook.
Skull tattoos in the sketchy tattoo style can be done in a variety of ways with plenty of artistic flairs.
Biomechanical Skull Tattoos
Man vs. Machine- it’s a theme that has fascinated humans for a long time.
We are fascinated by the idea of robotics.
Can machines replace us, and will they rebel?
Someone with a bio-mechanical skull tattoo is likely interested in these ideas.
Contemporary Skull Tattoos
Contemporary tattooing is kind of a catch-all term.
There are so many tattoo artists doing so many innovative things, each blending the classic designs of the past into something new and exciting.
We love the mixed media feeling a contemporary skull tattoo can have.
If you’re looking to get a skull tattoo that feels fresh, unique, and artistic, ask your favorite tattooer if they’ve been experimenting with any new techniques.
Meanings of Different Skull Tattoo Designs
Skull tattoos rarely are on their own in design.
Many design elements may be added to the skull tattoo, sometimes to emphasize the darkness, or to lighten it up.
For years skulls have been some of the most popular choices in tattoo designs and have been depicted in a multitude of different styles, symbolizing major challenges that someone has had to overcome in their life.
When searching for the best skull tattoo designs, you’re going to come across a few commonalities.
While skull tattoos have a great deal of meaning on their own, specific themes are a way to enhance and personalize that meaning.
Here are some interesting skull tattoo design meanings to aid your search for the right skull tattoo:
- Meaning of Skull Tattoos with Flowers
The skull tattoo with flower tattoos is very beautiful and meaningful.
Its symbolism lies in rebirth.
From all death comes new life, and this tattoo is a wonderful representation of that.
Flower tattoos have deep meanings, and you can use those meanings to customize your skull tattoo symbolism.
The overarching symbolism of flowers and skull tattoos is beautiful and straightforward: they represent the dichotomy of life.
We have to take beauty with pain, love with loss, and somehow continue to be open to new beginnings after being hurt.
A flower skull tattoo can be a friendly reminder that, while there are shadowy things to contend with on earth, there’s also a great deal of beauty.
- Lotus Skull Tattoo Meanings
The lotus is an amazing flower.
It is the epitome of rebirth: it hides underwater each night and reemerges each morning.
The lotus skull tattoo symbolizes that birth and death are constantly happening and it is all part of the circle of life.
- Skull Tattoo with Rose Tattoo Meanings
One may believe a skull and rose tattoo to be a contradiction.
We look at the rose tattoo as a symbol of adoration and grace, whilst the skull tattoo is wrapped in the cycle of life and death.
When you combine the two, the result is a complex mix that accurately represents the struggle and balance of these things in our everyday lives.
They are not separate but entwined, and many skull and rose tattoos present this by having the roses grow in and between the skull.
Rose tattoos represent passion, beauty, and love.
Paired with a skull, they may represent a lost loved one or a lasting connection.
A rose and skull tattoo may also represent the concept of living your life to the fullest- doing everything you do with passion.
One meaning love and one meaning death, the rose and skull tattoo is a tattoo of dualism.
In this tattoo, the rose represents the beauty of life while the skull represents the harshness of grief.
This would be a great tattoo to memorialize a loved one.
- Peony & Skull Tattoos
Peony tattoos often represent good luck, strong partnerships, and abundance.
But they can also symbolize the fleeting nature of beauty.
A peony and skull tattoo means appreciating the good parts of life while you have them while knowing it’s all temporary.
Focus on the essential things, because you can’t take material items with you when you go.
- Laughing Skull Tattoo Meanings
A laughing skull is a very morbid tattoo that symbolizes fearlessness in the face of death.
You may laugh at death; either you consider death a joke or you are astoundingly unafraid of dying– to the extreme.
- Skull Tattoo with Crown Tattoo Meanings
Crown tattoos are typically thought of as carrying with them an air of authority.
They symbolize ultimate power.
The skull tattoo with a crown symbolizes the power that death holds over our lives.
Or, depending on your religious beliefs, the authority of the God or Gods that we may await as we are judged at our death.
A tattoo that features a skull with a crown serves as a warning: If you get too full of yourself or fixated on success, your greed may destroy you.
It can also be a reminder that your status won’t mean anything after you die- so you’d better make your life mean something beyond it.
- Skull and Dagger Tattoo Meanings
The skull and dagger tattoo means simply that you are not afraid of death.
The dagger shows that you may die painfully, but you are strong and will be able to face your death without fear.
The vision of a dagger penetrated through a skull is so vivid, especially in the bold lines and color of American traditional tattoo style.
A traditional skull and dagger tattoo is courageous.
However it is represented, skull and dagger tattoos are undeniably a symbol of your bravery and knowledge.
- Skull Tattoo with Wings Tattoo Meanings
The skull tattoo with wings can have many meanings.
To start, it can represent how someone who has died has become an angel in heaven and you may want to get this tattoo to symbolize their eternal soul.
More meaning to this tattoo is the duality between life and death.
And last, it can symbolize rebirth.
You may have died and been revived, hence the wings that may have brought your soul back into your body.
- Skull and Cross Tattoo Meanings
If you are a Christian, this is a good tattoo for you.
The skull and cross tattoo represents eternal life with God in heaven and the hope that you will make it to heaven.
- Flaming Skull Tattoo Meanings
The flaming skull tattoo is a bold tattoo that shows you are a courageous and tough kind of person.
The flames add danger to the skull and show that anyone wearing this tattoo is not afraid to be a little reckless because they are not afraid of death.
Flaming skull tattoos are a popular design for risk-takers and daredevils.
- Clock and Skull Tattoo Meanings
Everyone’s time is ticking.
The clock and skull tattoo represents how every human only has a certain amount of time in their life to do everything they want to do, be the person they want to be, and do what’s morally right.
The tattoo means that you are aware of this, and trying as best as you can to make every second count.
- Skull and Butterfly Tattoo Meanings
The skull and butterfly tattoo symbolize that death is only the beginning– it represents hope for the future.
It also symbolizes the hope that you will be taken away from suffering on this earth and end up in a better place.
- Skull and Moth Tattoo Meanings
The moth typically represents that you can go through tough times.
Therefore, the skull and moth tattoo can have many meanings, such as that you have gone through a near-death experience and it has made you a stronger person, or you are going through a difficult time grieving someone.
- Octoskull Tattoo Meaning
Since the octopus can regrow limbs, the octoskull tattoo symbolizes rebirth after near death from a heart attack, car crash, suicide attempt, etc.
This tattoo means that you can “regrow” or move on from your bad experience with death.
The octopus is a mysterious and brilliant creature.
Octopus tattoos are a symbol of creativity and intelligence.
The octopus tattoo combined with the skull tattoo is sometimes a nod to fantastic beasts from Lovecraftian tales, or it can speak to a desire for superior intellect and creativity.
- Cowboy Skull Tattoos
Arguably the most playful skull tattoo around, the cowboy skull tattoo takes the common skull image and spins it on its head.
Giving the skull a sharp, square bone structure and a big, toothy smile, our cowboy skull is finished off with the most important part: a cowboy hat.
Each tattoo design holds a personal meaning to the person bearing it and the cowboy skull tattoo symbolizes the overall importance of life and the way that we choose to live it.
Part of the cowboy life is living on the edge.
If you identify with the loner archetype, someone who lives by their own rules and has a nomadic lifestyle, you may take a shine to these cowboy skull tattoos.
Characterized by bold outlines and bright colors of similar tones, Old School tattoo style is traditional to western culture and perfectly suited to cowboy skull tattoos.
The tattoos are inspired by the Wild West and often feature additional elements such as lassos, roses, and cigars.
Combining classic grey and black with a pop of bright neon colors will make sure that your cowboy skull tattoo is as unique as you are.
- Memento Mori Skull Tattoos
In your quest for the perfect skull tattoo, you may have come across the term “Memento Mori.”
We may see an influx of Memento Mori skull tattoos for the next few years, but the image is an enduring one.
Memento Mori has been a huge influence on the art world.
When you see a Memento Mori skull tattoo, it is a direct descendant of these works of art from centuries ago.
It is a Latin term that translates to “remember that you must die.”
Skull tattoos make excellent Memento Moris, often accompanied by the phrase itself.
As a tattoo, it is especially meaningful as the design dies with you.
Pairing your skull tattoo with the material items you crave would be a very strong Memento Mori tattoo.
- Galaxy Skull Tattoos
Galaxy tattoos often have a trippy or dreamlike appearance.
They can represent limitless potential, scientific discoveries, or unseen elements of the universe you may be curious about.
Galaxy skull tattoos are cool to look at, and sometimes that’s all there is to it.
This design may also represent a feeling of limitless potential or a feeling that your soul extends beyond your body.
- Grim Reaper Tattoos
Most skull tattoos are, at their heart, about accepting death as a part of life.
And there’s no better example of that than the Grim Reaper tattoo.
The Grim Reaper has been portrayed, in various degrees of terrifying, in so many tattoo designs.
The Grim Reaper’s skull is just as ubiquitous in the tattoo world as it is in pop culture.
A Grim Reaper tattoo is a bold choice, no matter the tattoo style.
The meaning behind choosing the Grim Reaper for your skull tattoo is simple.
You are bold, and unafraid to meet your maker.
You recognize death as a natural part of life.
Maybe you’re even a daredevil, doing death-defying stunts.
This is a tattoo design for people who don’t want to mince words.
It gets straight to the point.
For a Grim skull Reaper tattoo, black and grey or sepia-toned makes the most sense.
Some may choose pops of color, such as a blood-red or sickly yellow.
You’ll want a large surface area to work with so your tattoo artist can include every grisly detail.
Many people with Grim Reaper tattoos put the focus on his skeletal face.
This character being a skeleton just further drives home the symbolism.
Many Grim Reaper skull tattoos will include the Grim Reaper’s cloak but most tattoo artists will draw it slouching off of his face so the skull tattoo can have more detail.
This is where the tattoo design really comes to life in terms of customization.
- Kissing Couple Skull Tattoos
The kissing couple skull tattoo is a romantic tattoo design.
It can express your desire for a long-term romance or celebrate the fact that you’ve already found it.
This tattoo design is excellent for couples and hopeless romantics alike.
- Ace of Spades Skull Tattoos
The Ace of Spades is a high-value card in many games, making it a symbol of luck.
When combined with the skull, it can have a couple of interpretations:
- The wearer is willing to take high risks for high rewards.
- It may be a reference to warfare.
The Vietnamese see the Ace of Spades as a symbol of death, so soldiers on the other side would paint the image on their helmets to strike fear into their enemies.
The Ace of Spades skull tattoo has one overarching message: don’t cross me.
- Smoking Skull Tattoos
Smoking skull tattoos are cheeky.
They represent your earthly vices.
These designs can symbolize a devil-may-care attitude toward your lifestyle or a reminder that you’ve given up certain pleasures to live a longer life.
- Samurai Skull Tattoos
Samurais are proud warriors, ready to face death for what they believe in.
A person with a Samurai skull tattoo considers themself the same.
They know they’re mortal, but they plan to go down with a fight.
Skull Tattoo Ideas
Have you been searching for some skull tattoo inspiration?
If you’re still unsure what direction you’d like to go with your skull design, here are a few highlights from our skull tattoo gallery.
- Small and Simple Skull Tattoos
Small skull tattoos are ghoulish enough for a little scare, but small enough for someone who only wants to show off their spooky side on the weekends.
As tattoos become more popular, many young people have started to collect small tattoos rather than committing to one large design.
This can be a meaningful way to collect memories as you go rather than blowing all your skin real estate in one appointment.
Paris Jackson and Rihanna have joined the micro skull tattoo club with dainty designs on their ankles.
There’s also G-Eazy, who has a simple skull tattoo with the initials T, B, & D to represent his 2017 album “The Beautiful and the Damned.”
G-Eazy’s small skull tattoo has been copied by many enthusiastic fans since he unveiled the design.
You don’t need a lot of flash to make a big impact.
These simple skull tattoos aren’t too fancy, but they certainly catch the eye.
- Skull Tattoo Sleeve
There is something to be said for a large, epic tattoo design that flows.
When you design a monster tattoo from day one, you get a big bad-ass tattoo piece with a high visual impact.
With a sleeve tattoo, you can add other elements to your skull tattoo that help communicate your message.
- Large Skull Tattoos
The bigger the skull tattoo, the more design elements you can play with.
Nothing shows off greater detail than a classic black and grey skull tattoo, and with a larger canvas, there’s more room to get creative.
Here you can incorporate more into the tattoo design and set the scene with more.
Both black and grey tattoos and large tattoo pieces are timeless classics and make the perfect combination.
When you make the commitment to a large skull tattoo, you and your artist can have all kinds of fun with the finer details.
The skull tattoo is a tattoo for everyone because everyone has experience with it.
We all have grieved and we all will face death eventually.
Which skull tattoo idea you choose all depends on your experience with the ephemerality and what it means to you.
Always a popular object, the skull has become the focus of numerous tattoo designs.
Whatever the placement or theme, there is something untouchable and breathtaking about skull tattoos, with their carved-out features, hollowness, and omnipotence.
Skull tattoos remind us that everything is temporary.
It helps us to appreciate the good moments as much as we can.
It would be an interesting idea to get a skull tattoo as part of a celebration of one of your accomplishments or simply celebrate life.
In this sense, a skull tattoo may suit someone with strong beliefs.
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Alyssa Renee McCormack is a writer, curator, and photographer who publishes articles on the topics of the arts, culture, and social justice. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in fashion business and art history and museum professions. Her experience working with a variety of art institutions, her world travel, and her inquisitive nature provides her with a unique insight. Check out her about page, she would love to connect with you!