Ocean Tattoos Meaning, Design & Ideas

Ocean tattoos give people the opportunity to show off some very nice-looking ink while also giving them a way to express who they are. These tattoos can range from small hand or foot tattoos to extremely large sleeves or even tattoos that cover the entire back.

Below we will take a look at why ocean tattoos make sense for so many people by going over some design ideas as well as some of the meanings that people like to attach to these pieces.

The vast expanse of the ocean is generally used as a metaphor for the depth of an individual’s personality. If you feel like there is a lot more to you than people realize and you’ll only let a certain group of people know your depths, then you might be a great candidate for an ocean tattoo. What’s great about this ocean tattoo meaning is that it can be used by just about anyone, which means that if you like the idea of a cool ocean tattoo on your skin, chances are it will work for you.

The ocean also holds innumerable mysteries of unexplored territory, parts of it completely unobtainable by humankind. Those who identify with the ocean are often mysterious, holding something underneath the surface that can only be uncovered with time and patience. These ocean tattoos are perfect for people who want others to know that there is something interesting inside of you that, if they take the time to get to know you, can be exposed.

The deep, blue waters are home to countless species and an unusual ecosystem that thrives in undisturbed territory. If you think of the ocean this way, you can see how it can represent a person who flourishes when he or she is not put under pressure by outside forces. This does not mean that the owner of an ocean tattoo doesn’t like to socialize; it just means that they do need their time on their own to be able to blossom as an individual.

Deep sea creatures are often included in ocean tattoos to add more appeal to the image, including sharks, all types of fish, octopi, squid, sea turtles, and more. You can just add in some attractive sea life to make your tattoo pop a bit more, but most people take this idea further by only including fish that add even more meaning to the design.

Just about everything on land and in the ocean has at least one meaning attached to it, so chances are you will be able to find a perfect match or two if this is the route you choose to go with your ocean tattoo.

Brightly colored coral, weeds, and other underwater plants help to make a bolder piece, accompanying the sea life. These water images reveal an affiliation with the aquatic, a terrain not usual for humanity. With this type of added imagery, you’re not really looking to add more meaning as much as you’re trying to make the design a bit more striking. Even a couple of nice, perhaps contrasting elements can take an ocean tattoo to the next level.

Additionally, mermaids or sirens are often added to ocean pieces because of their hybridity. Ocean is blended with human life in this way, allowing for the natural land-dwelling nature of humanity to fade in favor of the unpredictable waters. The addition of dolphins, mammals like humans, is also representative of this hybridity. This is yet another way to show that you are “one with the ocean” without having to be too obvious about it.

Regardless of the iconography included, ocean tattoos can be rendered either in color or greyscale. This is going to come down to personal tastes and what’s great is that you won’t lose or gain any meaning regardless of how your tattoo is colored. Some people might choose to stick with grey simply because they don’t like the way colored ink fades over time. Or, on the flip side of things, some people might prefer the bright blues of the ocean and think it’s the only way to get one of these tattoos. Again, it totally depends on what you like.

Tones of blue and violet are the most common palettes used for ocean scenes. These designs generally cover larger areas, often as sleeves or back ocean tattoo pieces. The depth of the waters is usually rendered in these blue tones, taking up the majority of space, while sunset or landscape is placed on top.

The greyscale gives a more somber tone when done realistically, often including more menacing images like sharks brandishing sharp teeth, shipwrecks, and rough, crashing waves. You will want to think about what’s actually in your design if you are deciding between greyscale and color since you will usually be able to figure out what’s best by simply knowing what’s in your image and how those things will look in the two styles.

Black and white also works well with more stylistic ocean tattoo designs. You won’t see as many black and white ocean tats, but it can look really great in designs that show some waves since the white will give it a more natural look. This is a good style to use if you are planning on showing an action shot above the surface.

Traditional-style ocean images are often encircled in flowered borders or sometimes phrases referring to oceans. Some people take this idea a step further and make their ocean tattoos look like portraits on their skin. The fact is that you can do a lot with this traditional-style look and you can get some great ideas by simply looking at ocean photographs and paintings that have been made over the years.

The contrast of land and water can become the main theme of larger ocean tattoo pieces. No, this style does not add any additional meanings to ocean tattoos, but it can definitely help to make the image pop a bit more. These days tattoo artists have no problem creating nice-looking sunset tattoos by contrasting the blue water with the orange and black of the horizon.

Palm trees, a symbol of tranquility, imaged at the surface are compared to sharks, shipwrecks, or other images of peril. Or, tempestuous waves may be crashing violently at the surface while a calm ocean scene lies beneath, revealing the individual’s serenity in times of stress. The truth is that you are only limited by your creativity with these tattoos, and you can always have an artist help you out with the design if you need some creative ideas.

Choosing an ocean tattoo design can be quite challenging for some people since there are so many options to choose from. If you think about it, though, having so many options is actually a good thing when it comes to tattoos. You can easily come up with a design that is yours and yours alone. This process can be made a lot easier by simply looking at some ocean tattoos that others have gotten and then make some tweaks to your favorite one.

No matter what type of ocean tattoo you get or what meanings you choose to use, you should definitely have a top tattoo artist do the work for you. Making water look great on the skin takes a lot of skill since there is usually some intricate line and shading work to do. Getting a well-respected artist to do your tattoos for you will highly up your chances of getting the tattoo that you really wanted. You definitely do not want to just walk into the first shop that you see and expect to get a top notch ocean tattoo design.

Hopefully you now have a better idea of what ocean tattoos are and why so many people choose these designs over all of the other great tattoo options available to them. They look great on the skin, they have some fantastic meanings, and they are not the types of tattoos that people end up regretting. If you are thinking about getting an ocean tattoo, be sure to take your time during the design process and, once you have come up with a cool tat, hire an artist who will make it come to life on your skin.

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