The nautical star is a traditional sailor tattoo and one that you will still see many people get today for a variety of reasons. It can be a very simple design or a complex piece with intricate line work and shading, but regardless of the look, you can be sure that it holds special meanings to the person who has it on their skin.
The nautical star is derived from the four-pointed star that rested in the center of a compass, pointing to the four directions. The star is designed in such a way that it appears raised. Dark and light colors, traditionally black and white, are placed together to create a sense of dimension. White tones are sometimes added to further highlight the depth of the image, introducing more detail.
The nautical star has been used as a tattoo staple for decades and has become a commonly added element to larger tattoo designs. The simple image of the nautical star makes it a diverse symbol that can be integrated into nearly any size or style of tattoo.
If you are interested in getting a nautical star tattoo or you simply want to know some of the meanings attached to it, check out the info below.
Popular Nautical Star Tattoo Meanings
The nautical star is most commonly known as a symbol of good fortune while sailing the open seas. This is why it is one of the most popular military tattoos around. Of course, you could also get one of these stars if you simply love being out on the water away from the mainland. People who do get their nautical star tattoos as military tats will sometimes include other military designs, such as flags, guns, and aircraft carriers.
The nautical star can also symbolize protection. This is because back before compasses sailors would look up at the stars to see which direction they were going. Even if they were in terrible shape, they could always be sure that they could depend on the stars to point them where they needed to go. You could use this meaning if you want to show that you protect those close to you, or you could even get it to show that you need a bit of protection from the negative things around you.
People also get their nautical star tattoos as symbols of guidance and/or control. You could use this meaning to show that you have control over your life or that you want to have more control. You might also get the star to show your pride in being a helpful person to anyone who needs it.
Other Nautical Star Tattoo Meanings
Since every star is different, some people will get a nautical star tattoo because they feel like they are unique individuals. That meaning can be attached to any type of star tattoo that you want, but people often don’t realize that it works for the nautical tattoo as well. It is probably the most commonly used “secondary” meaning that people attach to their nautical star tattoos.
In many cases, the nautical star tattoo is used as a symbol of the United States Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps, particularly because of these branches’ association with nautical travel and duties. The star often reminds people of the stars on the American flag and the overall look of the compass rose, so it’s no surprise that you will often find it in American military tattoos. Sometimes it is the focal point of these types of tattoos, while in other cases it is just one of many images and symbols in the designs.
Some folks will get their nautical star tattoos to show that they have an adventurous side, particularly those who like to have their adventures at sea. This is actually a great meaning to use no matter what type of tattoo you get because it can often work as a quick reminder to get out and have fun. When using this meaning, people will usually place the star somewhere on their bodies where they can always see it, such as on their forearms or even on their hands.
Nautical Star Tattoo Designs and Placement
The nautical star can be manipulated in a variety of ways and used in countless styles and types of designs. It can be done simply, in black and white, or any shade of color is added to create a more individual piece. Bright red and blue are often used to accompany the traditional black but patterns are often used as well such as stripes, national flag colors, camouflage, or animal patterns.
No color or shading is usually added, leaving only the simple outline of the star for a design that appears more feminine because of its delicacy. It used to be that every nautical tattoo that you’d see would be in black, but these days there are quite a few people who like to customize the colors of their stars. It really just depends on whether you like the look of the classic nautical star or if you’d rather make it your own. You can use the exact same nautical star meanings regardless of whether you have it in black or color.
When nautical stars are tattooed in pairs, the color or patterns are often reversed to create contrast and are placed in opposing areas like opposite sides of the chest, opposite arms or hands, or on the shoulder blades. This creates a very slick look on the skin, though it often requires a bit more space to ensure that they don’t look too smushed together.
Varying sizes of nautical stars work to the same effect and can be designed as large or as small as desired. Some people now get nautical star sleeves rather than the classic star style since it can make the tattoo pop a bit more in certain designs. This style also works very well with the “shooting star” effect, which is when you start with small starts and form a rainbow of stars until you reach the largest one. Those designs can look great going down the arms or legs, or even down the back.
A field of nautical stars is a large but simple design for those who are not interested in complicated or overdone pieces. Of course, you could also put other images in the design, but people often like the look of the stars by themselves since they hold a lot of meanings and don’t need any other images to make them stand out.
Of course, other traditional tattoo imagery can be added to the nautical star tattoo. Sparrows and other nautical symbols such as anchors and compasses can sometimes be seen in these designs, making it very clear that they are nautical tats. These tattoo designs are often done in the style of “Sailor Jerry”, the father of tattoo tradition in the West. This style is very recognizable because the outlines of the tattoos are very bold, giving them a bit more pop than other traditional tattoos.
Banners added to the star often hold phrases significant to the individual or names and dates that serve as a tribute to the memory of a loved one. Wings or swirling line work can be introduced to the star, flowing from either side, to create a larger and more detailed piece. These expanding details complement the circular shape of the nautical star and add interest to the relatively simple design.
Simple shapes are sometimes added to the nautical star as well since they integrate well into the uncomplicated style. In fact, people who are into geometric tattoos with precise line work will sometimes include nautical stars since they are also perfectly formed. Placed in the background or the foreground, nautical stars are easily introduced into many different tattoo designs.
Is the Nautical Star Tattoo Right for You?
We hope you can now see why the nautical star tattoo is so popular. There are tons of great designs to choose from and a bunch of great meanings you can use should you choose to get one of these tattoos. They’re certainly not for everyone, but anyone who finds that the star symbolizes something important to them should be a good fit for the nautical star tattoo.
Even though these designs do seem simple to make, you still want to find a good artist to make yours for you should you decide to get one. The best tattoo artists will ensure that your star is placed correctly and they will help you out if you want to make any tweaks to the tattoo.
If you do end up choosing to get a nautical star tattoo, chances are you will always be happy with it because it is such a classic design and the stars usually look fantastic on the skin. This is certainly not one of those tattoos that people often end up regretting. It’s a great choice for those who find the meanings work for them.