The skull is an ominous image that is immediately associated with death and the realm of the dead. While that might make it seem like the skull tattoo is only for people who want to get a tattoo that represents death, that isn’t always the case.
On this page, we’ll take a look at why the skull image has held such significance to people over the years and some of the most popular skull tattoo meanings that folks like to use.
The skull is a very popular tattoo image and is often used to emphasize a tone of foreboding, peril or the occult. People who are looking for a darker tattoo meaning will often find themselves picking the skull tattoo because that meaning is obvious when you see the skull. It’s also the type of image that you can mix with other darker designs, making it an excellent pick for a larger tattoo design.
The skull was used anciently and is still used modernly in ritualistic practice in various cultures around the world. The human, or animal, skull signifies a missing soul and is used as an emblem of a relative or friend that has passed on from the world of the living. People who get the skull tattoo for this reason will often have the name of the person it represents above the skull to make the meaning a bit clearer. Of course, if it is meant to be a very personal tattoo, the owner can leave out the name since they will always know who the skull represents.
The skulls can be elaborately decorated ceremoniously and made part of a celebration or ritual. Specifically, the Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday that follows Halloween, is often celebrated with decorated skulls called calaveras or sugar skulls that are brightly colored. They are decorated very ornately and used to honor the spirits of dead relatives. Although they are a signifier of the dead, they serve as a remembrance of ancestry and a reminder of the rebirth that death allows for.
A realistic human skull, without decoration, is a much less cheerful image but can serve a similar purpose as the sugar skulls. In this way, the owner of the skull tattoo can honor someone without having to add in cheery images. These skull tattoos don’t have the most obvious meanings, which is why they are considered very personal and are usually on a part of the body that can’t be seen by the public.
Many productions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet show him holding a skull and pondering the idea of mortality following his father’s death. Because of this, the skull image is often used to refer to this play but more generally, the skull is an image that integrates a dour and somewhat menacing tone into a tattoo.
Skulls are often accompanied by roses, ravens, candles, or snakes, all of which suggest the unknown and supernatural. These skulls also usually represent death, but the added imagery can make the tattoos even more meaningful to the owners. If you are trying to figure out what a particular skull tattoo means, then it’s a good idea to look at the images surrounding it to see exactly what it means.
The skull tattoo is one of the most popular biker tattoos around, if not the most popular. Biker gangs all over the globe use the skull image as both a logo and a reminder to outsiders that they are not to be messed with. While there can be many meanings attached to biker gang tattoos, the one that is most common in all of them is that the owners are willing to live dangerously. The bikers who get these skull tattoos are also wearing them to show their pride in their biker gangs.
Some people get the skull tattoo to represent “living dangerously” even when they are not in biker gangs. The skull shows that they want to live adventurous lives and they will not let anyone get in the way of that. The skull image is a constant reminder that they only get one shot at life and that they need to make every moment count. There are a lot of tattoo designs that have this same meaning, but the skull is one of the most striking images out there so many people choose the skull tattoo over all of the other options.
While the skull can be a diverse image, it is primarily a relic of the ominous and spiritual world which works well as a dark and spectral tattoo. This means that the skull tattoo has a deep meaning to the owner, but it is not the type of meaning that is going to be obvious to everyone. It also means that people can customize their skull tattoos to match their tastes since they usually do not want to share their skull tattoo meanings with the world.
Believe it or not, the skull image can also be used in a motivational tattoo and can have no negative meanings to the owner. An example of this is when someone gets a skull tattoo simply to remind themselves to stay focused on achieving their goals. The skull reminds them that taking their eyes off the prize can result in huge setbacks and that they need to keep pushing toward their goals regardless of what stands in their way.
Whether positive or negative, the skull is a symbol of death and the mortality of humanity, reminding us that demise is common to all creatures on Earth. People who recognize this will often get the skull tattoo to remind themselves to be fearless regardless of what is thrown at them. It can also mean that they take a lot of risks – good or bad – so outsiders will often steer clear of people who have skull tattoos.
It wasn’t too long ago that skull tattoos were known for being for men only, but these days plenty of women get fantastic skull tattoos as well. After all, the skull image itself is not a “manly” image, so it definitely works on everyone’s skin. The exact same meanings can be used for the skull tattoo regardless of who gets it, but you can always tweak the look of it to suit your needs.
If you’re thinking about getting a skull tattoo, you’ll want to come up with a design that works specifically for you. If you want to keep it simple, then maybe just the outline of a skull would work. If you know that you want your skull tattoo to have plenty of meaning, then you might want to add in more design elements to get the most meaning from it as you can. We highly recommend getting a customized skull tattoo rather than just picking a skull image out of an artist’s book since you will want to always see your skull tattoo as yours and yours alone.
You’ll also want to think about where you want the skull tattooed on your body. This is not one of those designs that change meaning based on where it is on a person’s body, but the location is still important. For example, if you want your skull tattoo to be very personal, then you might want to put it on your back or on another body part that is out of the public’s view. Conversely, if the skull is a symbol of pride to you, you could get it on your forearm for everyone to see. Also keep in mind that the size of the skull tattoo will help narrow down the location options for you.
As you can see, the skull tattoo doesn’t have a lot of meanings, but those that it does have are quite deep. This is one of those tattoo designs that will probably always be one of the most popular because plenty of people find that it both looks great and it has meanings that work for them.