How to find meaningful tattoo ideas: symbolism in tattooing

Most tattoo collectors pick the ideas and subject matter for their tattoos carefully, choose things that represent them in some way. Many like their tattoos to represent a time in their life, a special person, their ancestry or the things they enjoy. Symbolism can be a valuable tool during the design process, as it can help you and your artist come up with a design that is both visually appealing and representative of you as a person.

A symbol is a visual object that represents an idea, belief or action. Symbols can be broad (like a red octagon signalling stop to drivers) or more personal (like geraniums reminding you of your grandmother because she always grew them). They can be simple, like the Christian cross, or quite complex, like the the many symbols contained in a family crest.

How can you use symbolism in a tattoo design?

I’ve always wanted to get a tattoo for my mother. Let’s go through a few meaningful designs I could get for her:

The Caduceus: a symbol for the medical professional

  • Her name. Someone’s name is a symbol for them in the simplest way.
  • A professional symbol.My mom is a nurse, so the greek symbol for medicine, the caduceus, would be a good choice.(Caption: A Caduceus)
  • Her Zodiac. We also were born under the same zodiac sign. A Libra symbol could be a meaningful in my design.

One of those would be great, but what if I want something more personal?

  • Make a List of that person’s favorite things: My mom makes braided rugs, has beautiful gardens and loves the desert. A tattoo with braids of wool, flowers, and a giantsaguaro cactus would be just as meaningful and more my style!

How do I learn about and find symbols to use in my tattoo?

A Brushstroke style Libra symbol

Your tattoo artist likely has knowledge to share with you, so having a chat about yo

Also, please come back here once a month to learn more about universal symbolism in tattooing and art!