Tattoos have exploded in popularity amongst both men and women, but it can sometimes be tough to decide on a tattoo design. With this in mind, here are 35 unique and uncommon tattoos:
1. Angel Tattoos
Angels are messengers of God, so they sit firmly in the Christian tradition. Many people love angel tattoos for this very reason. But they are also associated with love and peace.
An angel tattoo can mean many things. It can symbolize your closeness to God or your own soul. A pair of tattered angel wings can also represent some sort of fall from grace or a struggle with your own personal faith.
There are so many angel designs to choose from, but the meaning is always powerful and profound.
2. Atom Tattoos
At one point in history, an atomic tattoo design might have been strongly associated with the atomic bomb, but that has changed. Lovers of science and progress may find some profound meaning in such atomic tattoos. For them, it suits their view of life and their search for truth.
For other people, a nucleus with subatomic particles rotating around it can also mean personal freedom and liberty. Perhaps it is a freedom for religion and cult-like unawareness of the universe around us. Or perhaps it may symbolize their own free will.
3. Barcode Tattoos
There was once a time when the humble barcode was simply a way to take care of inventory and scan products at the retail checkout. These days, it is fashionable to use it in tattoo design. So, what does it really mean?
The barcode originated in the 1940s, but it was not until 1975 that it was used on a wide scale in product inventory and sales. Many people interpret the so-called “mark of the beast” in Revelations to mean that we will all one day be tattooed with a barcode so that we can be treated like products by a one-world government.
Whether you believe this or not, the barcode has come to mean an anti-establishment stance. It is related to individual freedom from tracking and is the opposite of being treated like a product.
Indeed, some paranoid individuals might love the barcode for these very reasons. Moreover, the barcode is used in modern art simply because it is all around us.
4. Che Guevara Tattoos
You’ve probably seen his stylized portrait on T-shirts or other products, but what has made this man so popular among those who love tattoos?
For starters, his face makes for a great portrait. It’s a classic. Of course, Che Guevara also has some pretty profound meanings too. As a Marxist revolutionary in South America, he was pivotal in the Cuban revolution. He represents rebellion, freedom, and personal liberty from oppression.
He was not just a revolutionary and guerrilla leader though. He was also a physician, reformist politician, diplomat, and author. For some people, his inked face has deep cultural and political connections.
5. Couple Tattoos
If you’ve ever wanted to show your deep and undying love for someone, a couple or pair tattoo might just be what you’re looking for.
Lovers share special moments, memories, and meanings together. They have private jokes and know things about each other that no one else does in quite the same intimate way.
One way to celebrate this connection is to have matching tattoos done. The tattoo can be some special symbol or icon that has significant meaning for the romantic pairing.
6. Cow Tattoos
The bull might be more about the masculine spirit, but a cow tattoo is perfect for nurturing mothers everywhere. The cow represents fertility and the nurturing and northerly spirit.
The cow has also long been seen as sacred in places such as India, and has been an important animal across many ancient human cultures.
The cow gives life to its young, but also gives us life too. From our earliest beginnings, the cow has been a part of our farming cultures. For this reason, the cow has a special place for many people.
7. Crow Tattoos
Did you know that crows have their very own language? They can recognize and remember human faces, and if they don’t like you they’ll keep telling their friends to stay away. They can even use tools and problem solve. They are certainly intelligent animals.
Of course, crows have often been associated with bad omens, but in the east it’s a different story. They are seen as wise, intelligent, and loving. Additionally, the Native Americans regarded them as intelligent messengers and guides.
A crow tattoo can look striking indeed, with black wings spread across the back or chest. Whether you like some of its darker meanings or prefer to see it as a symbol of wisdom, love, and hope, the crow definitely makes for a good piece of ink.
8. Crown Tattoos
The symbol of the crown has always been associated with monarchs through the ages. It represents authority, power, legitimacy, glory, and victory.
Just think about all of the medieval stories about Kings and Queens. Or fiction such as Game of Thrones where the goal is to sit on the Iron Throne and wield ultimate power.
As a tattoo, it can symbolize power and command of one’s life or destiny. It can mean that you have great self-control and want to be seen as important and valued by others around you.
9. Dagger Tattoos
The dagger on its own is not common as a tattoo. It is often combined with other imagery, such as roses and skulls. For some people it can mean the dangers inside themselves, serving as a warning to others.
One common dagger tattoo is the dagger piercing a heart. This symbolizes the heartbreak or betrayal of love. A dagger and swallow has been common in American Traditional style tattooing and means safe passage or luck for a sailor in getting home from their time at sea.
10. Diamond Tattoos
The diamond is a popular tattoo for men and women, and can mean a wide variety of things. It lends itself well to either small or large tattoos and is often used in decorative pieces. In fact, some people get a diamond tattoo simply because the meanings associated with it are often so universal.
If you believe in your own inner beauty, you might want to get a diamond tattoo. If you believe yourself to be powerful, a glittering diamond is associated with the fact that you are polishing your own diamond and becoming who you are really meant to be.
In other words, a diamond is the rough being polished through life’s many experiences.
11. Dove Tattoos
When Noah was sailing in his ark, he received a white dove on the last day of the flood. This dove symbolizes peace and a brand new beginning. To this day, the dove is a symbol of peace among people and nations.
The dove is also a symbol of love. Doves themselves mate for life, so a dove tattoo is a well-known symbol for undying and eternal love between two people. Doves are also associated with family, harmony, devotion, faith, and freedom. In this way, they make for great tattoos.
12. Dragonfly Tattoos
A dragonfly tattoo can look amazing, especially when lots of colors of ink are used. These iridescent creatures symbolize personal transformation and change.
Just as the dragonfly begins life as a tiny nymph and then transforms into something majestic and beautiful, it also symbolizes our capacity to change and adapt to circumstances around us.
The dragonfly is graceful and free. It represents our struggle to move beyond our own confines and to truly become something more. The dragonfly tattoo is for anyone who understands personal transformation and yearns to be something greater than themselves.
13. Four-Leaf Clover Tattoos
Lots of people think that the four-leaf clover isn’t real and is just some made up myth. In fact, there is such a thing as a four-leaf clover.
The white clover grows everywhere in Ireland, and while most of them are the standard three-leaf variety, one in ten thousand are the rare four-leaf variety. It’s a genetic mutation, but for the Irish it also means good luck.
Good fortune is what it means to us too. They say that if you discover a four-leaf clover, you’re bound to have good luck for the rest of the day. Of course, the four-leaf clover tattoo doesn’t just mean good luck and fortune.
It is also strongly associated with St. Patrick’s Day and has strong ties to Irish culture in general. It also makes for a great looking tattoo, especially if green inks are used.
14. Fox Tattoos
The fox means different things to different people and cultures. It can be cute and cunning in one moment, and then vicious the next. It is a predator that is frightened of humans and operates by stealth. It also happens to be a very popular tattoo for women.
The fox is not just cute and cunning. It is also a symbol of feminine sexuality. The Japanese Goddess of fertility, Inari, could transform into a fox, for example. In Nordic culture, the fox is a symbol of deceptiveness, wiliness, and cunning.
Whatever your connection to this cute predator, a fox tattoo can definitely raise eyebrows.
15. Hummingbird Tattoos
For the Aztecs, wearing a dead hummingbird around their neck in a small bag was a symbol of royalty and power. They also believed that Aztec warriors were reincarnated as hummingbirds.
To the Native Americans, the hummingbird represents love.
There’s no doubt that the hummingbird is a very popular tattoo, especially for women. The graceful shape and colors can definitely be eye catching no matter what your connection is to this quick little creature.
16. Infinity Symbol Tattoos
The infinity symbol has become popular as a tattoo lately, partly due to the fact that it can be made small and discrete, but largely because of what it represents.
What is infinity? Can we imagine it? Is the universe really infinite? Will time go on forever? As finite and limited creatures, we find it difficult to imagine what infinity really means. It makes us feel small, and yet it’s also a powerful symbol of birth, life, death, and rebirth.
Those who love science might get a kick out of an infinity symbol tattoo. Those of a more romantic nature might prefer an infinity sign over a heart to symbolize eternal love.
17. Ladybug Tattoos
Ladybugs have traditionally been associated with good luck. It’s said that if a ladybug lands on you, you’ll receive good fortune. For the Chinese, the ladybug is all about good luck and is similar in meaning to the four-leaf clover.
Whether you like how cute they are or just love the idea of a bit of ladybug ink bringing you luck, a tattoo like this can sure turn some heads.
18. Leopard Print Tattoos
The leopard might be one of the smallest of the big cats, but it’s definitely one of the most cunning and predatory. In fact, leopards will even attack humans that stray into their path in places such as India.
The leopard has come to be associated with being cunning, royalty, intelligence, deceit, strength, protection, and solitude. As a hunter, it is highly adaptable and has long held importance in many ancient cultures.
As a tattoo, it has some things in common with the fox. Some women relate to the leopard as a symbol of feminine power and sexuality. Other people simply love the way that leopards and leopard prints look as tattoos.
19. Lighthouse Tattoos
Have you ever felt lost in your life? As a symbol, the lighthouse is a guiding light. It has traditionally helped sailors avoid accidents, and has profound meaning even for modern sailors.
The lighthouse is also representative of protection and finding a way forward out of the darkness. Maybe you need some guidance in your life or you remember a dark time in your life before you found the light. Or maybe you just love the sea and how great a lighthouse tattoo can look.
20. Lizard Tattoos
From fearsome Komodo Dragons to tiny Geckos, the lizard has long been a fascination for people from all cultures. Some people might place them right alongside snakes as one of their biggest fears, but lizards are definitely more scared of us than the other way around.
The ancient Egyptians associated the lizard with good luck, while images of lizards were used to scare off evil spirits in parts of Africa.
The lizard represents agility, speed, cunning, intelligence, flexibility, adaptability, and rebirth. As such, they make for great tattoos for anyone who relates to any of these ideas.
21. Moon Tattoos
In ancient cultures the sun has often been associated with masculine energy. The moon, on the other hand, is the feminine nature. She represents the eternal cycle and the ebb and flow of time. It is the moon that controls the tide and the sea.
The moon also has a darker side. She rises at night when things are mysterious and dark. In this sense, the moon also symbolizes forbidden knowledge, mystery, and the human unconscious.
The different phases of the moon also relate to human life. The new moon is birth, the cycles in between are the different phases of growth and development, and the full moon is pregnancy and the promise of new life.
Moon tattoos are especially popular with women, as they have a powerful feminine connection.
22. Moth Tattoos
While some people might look at moths as the ugly cousin of the butterfly, moth tattoos can look absolutely wonderful. Indeed, there are many more species of moth than butterfly in the world, and they have long had symbolic significance across many cultures.
The moth represents determination and faith. Those who seek the light and have the determination to succeed in their quest out of the darkness may find a profound connection with the humble moth.
They also have a strong connection with the moon, and thus they are also often seen as feminine symbols too.
23. Panda Tattoos
Whether you love the panda for its cute looks or for its symbolism, there is no doubt that a panda tattoo can look positively awesome when done by the right tattoo artist.
Symbolically, the panda represents peace and serenity. The panda is not a vicious creature and is known to be slow moving and laid back. Perhaps this is partly why it is an endangered species.
The panda is also strongly associated with wisdom, grace, strength, good luck, magic, calm, and balance. Interestingly, the panda is associated with both femininity and masculinity, making it a great choice for either a man or woman.
24. Peacock Tattoos
The peacock has been held in high regard for many centuries by many cultures. The colorful plumage of the male is sometimes associated with vanity, pride, social status, luxury, and beauty. For some people, the colorful peacock feathers are representative of their colorful persona.
The peacock also has an important place in the Buddhist religion. Here, it is strongly associated with an expanding consciousness. In the Christian faith, the peacock is also often associated with rebirth and immortality.
Whether you relate to any of the peacock’s symbolic meanings or you just love the colorful feathers, a peacock tattoo can definitely look stunning.
25. Phoenix Tattoos
This mythical animal has complex meanings in both Western and Eastern cultures, and is a popular choice for men and women.
In the Christian tradition, the Phoenix symbolizes rebirth and longevity. As the Phoenix dies and leaves the old world behind, it is reborn and enters a new world through this transformation. In this sense, it symbolizes personal spiritual transformation.
For the Chinese, the Phoenix is second only to the dragon in terms of importance. This mythical bird has long been associated with the Empress, as it is also a graceful, kind, and compassionate creature.
Those who have undergone some personal transformation through the fire of trauma may relate strongly to the Phoenix.
26. Rabbit Tattoos
The rabbit is not just about Easter and the cute Easter Bunny, although there’s nothing wrong with having such a tattoo done. It is also one of the animals in the Chinese zodiac, and is associated with kindness, compassion, tenderness, and grace.
The rabbit is also seen as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Just think about the tradition of the lucky rabbit’s foot.
Whether you want a cute Easter Bunny on your arm, or you happen to have been born in the Year of the Rabbit, a tattoo like this can really draw attention.
27. Ram Tattoos
Like the sun, the ram is primarily a masculine symbol. If you happen to be born under the zodiac sign of Aries, the ram might have some meaning for you too. For the ancient Egyptians, the ram also carried solar energy, making it a sacred animal.
Symbolically, the ram is associated with the qualities of perseverance, overconfidence, stubborn character, and a lack of mental flexibility.
While some of these qualities may not sound ideal to a modern audience, there is something strong and determined in the ram that makes it an ideal choice as a tattoo, especially for men.
28. Scorpion Tattoos
The scorpion is one of those creatures that seems to have a bad name. Apart from the obvious connection with the Scorpio zodiac sign, the scorpion has also long been associated with power and toxicity. There is something fearful about the scorpion and its stinging tail.
Having said that, there is also an ancient tradition of the scorpion being associated with sexuality and arousal as well. In fact, some women are using the scorpion motif to represent their own power and control over their powerful sexuality.
29. Semicolon Tattoos
Unlike most images, the use of the semicolon as a tattoo is a purely modern invention. It has a very specific meaning that will certainly be powerful for many people.
When a writer uses a semicolon in their work, they are choosing not to end a sentence. In effect, they are choosing to have it continue.
The semicolon tattoo is used by suicide survivors to symbolize that their life did not end. It is all about bringing attention to suicide and helping to make others aware.
30. Spider Tattoos
Like the snake and the scorpion, the spider is also one of the creatures that a great many people fear or have nightmares about. Even though most spiders are actually harmless and more afraid of us than we are of them, it has become popular as a tattoo.
One thing that can be said about the spider is that it symbolizes many things. While it certainly symbolizes fear, death, danger, and despair, it can also mean harmony, good fortune, power, and mystery.
The black widow spider happens to be one of the most popular spider tattoo designs, and more and more women are getting them.
This is because the spider also represents the darker aspects of sexuality and feminine power. For women who relate, it can represent their power over themselves and a reclamation of their strength.
31. Stag Tattoos
The stag is a strong protector. He is the alpha of his pack of deer and protects and guides them. His antlers are symbols of strength, power, and virility.
Due to his position within the pack, the stag is also a symbol of royalty and nobility. If you’ve ever seen a stag, you’ll know how large and noble looking they are.
32. Triangle Tattoos
The triangle as a geometric shape has been used by countless cultures in tribal tattooing rituals, but it also has deep meanings for many people in other ways too. For them, a triangle is not just a triangle.
A simple triangle also has strong ties to the Christian tradition, with the three sides representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We also see a triangle and the all-seeing eye of Horus on the one dollar bill in the United States. In this way, it can also represent the eye of providence too.
When tattooed with the point upward, the triangle relates to the sun and masculine power. When it is pointing down, it symbolizes the moon and feminine power.
33. Web Tattoos
For many people, the spider web has negative meanings. In fact, a spider web tattoo on the elbow has been used historically by some white supremacist groups to symbolize their affiliation and membership.
It still has this association today, as many prison inmates sport web tattoos of this nature to symbolize their entrapment, gang status, and affiliation with certain belief systems.
Though many modern audiences view the web in a negative way, it must also be said that it does have a lengthy history in Native American mythology and is not negative in nature.
For example, the Dreamcatcher features a web design, and in this way it may be looked upon more favorably as a tattoo.
34. Weed/Cannabis Tattoos
Those who have a cannabis leaf tattooed are likely those who are rebellious in nature and those who strongly believe that it should be legalized.
As an illegal drug in the modern era, the cannabis leaf tattoo also tends to draw people who wish to express their rebellious inner nature and those who are users or have a strong belief in it being legalized.
35. Yin Yang Tattoos
Yin and Yang represent duality and opposites, such as good and evil, top and bottom, male and female. But it also represents the interconnected dependence of each of these opposites. In the masculine there also resides the feminine. Without right there is no wrong.
Yin and Yang is a popular tattoo motif for both men and women, but it’s also important to understand this most ancient of Chinese concepts.