There are innumerable concepts to explore, adapt, and depict when choosing a rib tattoo.
From minimalist designs and simple quote tattoos, to realistic rib tattoo art or those exploring religious themes, the rib cage is a bold area to make a tattoo statement.
Any application or thematic concept can be applied to make a successful rib tattoo. It is your expression and art brought to life by the tattoo artist.
Getting it done as a sternum tattoo or on the side of your body in a spot that is often more painful than most, make it look good and make the discomfort worthwhile.
Take a moment to look at this cage tattoo gallery collection designed to help give you inspiration for you next tattoo idea.
1. Abstract Rib Tattoo Ideas
If this is a representation of air, then it’s the most elegant and the darkest piece of air. There are so many ways of interpreting this body art and could even be meant to cover imperfection on the skin. Whatever it may be, the wearer and the artist did a great job on its mystique and anonymity of its subject matter.
When street art meets body art. The color is unbelievably festive, brilliant in rendering bright orange and cool blue so there can be a sense of balance and cohesion. This rib tattoo is multidimensional, using black for the outlines and the darker shade of orange for depth.
Abstract and 3D tattoo rib designs make great tattoo art when applied with sure skill, and a sense of adventure. These designs veer into geometric patterns, abstract high art concepts, and the juxtaposition of light and dark, color and shade. They are fantastic standalone pieces of tattoo art.
2. Religious Themed Rib Tattoo Ideas
This man’s side tattoo of this brave and courageous guardian angel executed in black and gray ink, finely outlined and shaded which mimics that of a sketch. The Archangel Raguel, the angel of fairness, harmony and justice. He provides strength for those who are working against injustice.
This is a large collection of Chicano tattoos in a religious theme. Outlined in black fine lines, softly shaded but high definition enough to bring out realistic characters depicted in this big, bold culturally influenced creation. The portrait of the beautiful woman, her lovely face turned upwards in supplication, gently cloaked by a veil, to reveal a contoured cheekbone and jawline along with the delicately done eyes complete the ethereal look.
This piece is oozing with symbolic meaning and characterized by the bold dark lines present amongst Chicano pieces. It is a sizeable side and rib tattoo piece that talks about his spiritual journey, specifically zeroing in on blind faith. The illustration is heavily outlined in black, then shaded on the insides with detail to look more realistic.
In this side tattoo, the artist smartly uses negative space to reveal the shapes of the roses and the winged angel. It is softly shaded, and lightly feathered with the needles so as not to produce harsh lines when the viewer transitions to the entirety of the side piece. The text of “forever” is the only portion which is deeply saturated in black ink to ensure that the eyes are drawn to it immediately in the tattoo placement.
This is indeed an astonishing side and ribcage tattoo venturing into photorealism. From the dark clouds in the background down to the ray of light beaming from the sky as background for the shape of the heavily detailed flying angel. To this design the artist added another angel more detailed than the first. It is a great tattoo design.
Often incorporated with chest tattoo designs, religious iconography such as the Virgin Mary, crosses, and praying hands tattoos are also popular for rib and side chest body art, or incorporated into Chicano style body art that is thick with meaning, iconography, and personal stries.
3. Asian Influenced Rib Tattoo Designs
In Chinese mythology Nian was a hideous beast believed to feast on human flesh on New Year’s Day. The workmanship is outstanding with finely etched details from top to bottom. Its face looks sinister enough to portray the beast role. The feet, with long nails and plump toes also look lethal, and the piece is shaded with highlights and contour to add depth for added dimension.
These Japanese rib cage symbols are beautifully inked onto the side of the body, with the strokes mimicking that of ink dipped graceful calligraphy. The black ink is deeply saturated to creating a stunning contrast against the pale skin of the canvas. The symbol is roughly translated as “dream.”
This versatile Japanese themed quarter bodysuit piece is striking as a symbol of beauty and strength, utilizing the lotus flower. Details are packed in from every angle and into each nook and cranny of the idea. In ancient Japanese tradition, these lovely floral tattoo concepts symbolize wealth, good fortune and prosperity, while also depicting that receiving great rewards comes only through taking great risks.
Choosing a Japanese or Asian themed rib tattoo design is a great investment in skin modification, and a commitment to the cost and required number of hours needed for its execution. What is definitive of the Asian styles are symbolically meaningful content, bold outlines and an illustrative style of shading where depth and dimension have been added with vitality.
4. Tribal Rib Body Art
This warrior human canvas must be truly brave to include the underside of the shoulder and the rib area. This tribal piece is executed with finesse. It looks clean, precise, segments are evenly spaced out, and the contrast of the black and the negative space are distributed well throughout the whole tattoo. This tribal tattoo is custom made and specifically designed for the client which reveals his story and his aspirations.
This is a gorgeous illustration of a lovely woman adorned wearing a native American headdress in a traditional American style of tattooing with its bold lines and vibrant colors. The head piece is a symbol of honor, courage and status symbol. The dreamcatcher to ensure that this lovely lady sleeps peacefully.
Tribal tattoo designs tell the stories of ancestors, are rites of passage, or invoke powerful symbolic meaning for the wearer’s individual personality and culture. From Polynesian Islands to the jungles of South America, tribal tattoos denote strength and protection, pride, power, and the representation of culture.
5. Neo Traditional Rib Tattoo Designs
This cage tattoo of an a stormtrooper wearing native American headdress is done in an old school style with bold black outlines shaded with vivid color and more black ink on the headdress. The gray shading on the feathers at the edge of the artwork gives it a border effect like it’s in transition.
A classical American traditional tattoo, this powerful eagle tattoo looks ready to clasp on to the side of its’ human canvas. The placement of the eagle is perfect – the tattoo artist thoughtfully considered the musculature of the wearer so that the eagle’s composition would fit his movements. The eagle is a great companion to have on the skin, for its aesthetic beauty as well as its symbolic meaning of fierce freedom and pride.
A pelican tattoo signifies you carry a spirit guide that teaches self-sacrifice. Getting a pelican tattoo is a statement that one yearns to be charitable and less competitive. It may not be a popular choice among the birds for tattoos, yet this elegant creature can be executed with bold beautiful colors and numerous crisp details.
This is one of those surrealism pieces wherein the meaning is subjective – your definition of the rib tattoo depends on how you perceive the art. In this tattoo example, is the black wolf morphing into her gorgeous human self, or the woman dreaming that she is transforming into a wolf?
Neo Traditional Tattoos take old school design elements – bold lines, traditional imagery and structure – then crank the amps up to eleven by incorporating a wild sense of style and full commitment to vivid neon and/or outlandish color schemes and patterns.
The sparrow with black ink claws perfectly perched on the hip This symbolically the sparrow is often misunderstood as a bad omen because it is often associated with death, but is considered sacred in native American culture as it is referenced as smart and brave.
The graceful eagle tattoo in minimalist design looks like a silhouette from afar. The negative space in between the shaded spots help create the illusion. The eagle is regarded as one of the most powerful spirit guides and considered divine because it can soar higher than any other bird. It also brings the message of renewed life because it is associated with the east winds – the direction of spring, dawn and rebirth.
This geometric rib eagle tattoo is a modern approach to a tremendously popular traditional style design. The eagle is deeply shaded in dark, solid black ink but the artist left tiny bits of negative space in between to peek through for highlights. A haunting piece, it could even be religious or spiritual because eagles are known to convey messages from the spirits.
7. Rib Script Tattoos
An excerpt from your favorite prayer, poetry, song, or personalized words from you meant to inspire, as a dedication to a love one, or a certain advocacy you intend to campaign on, is entirely up to you. Just ensure that the spelling has been checked, and should it be from a different language, ensure that the translation is accurate.
A quote tattoo across your ribs can come from your favorite prayer, poetry, song, book or film. They can also be personalized words meant to inspire or motivate, be a dedication or memorial to a loved one, or fulfill a certain meaning to your life and outlook. They can also be a matching tattoo with lovers, family, friends, or teammates.
Just ensure that the spelling has been checked, and if your quote tattoo is it be etched in a different language, that you have ensured (in triplicate) that the translation is accurate for both spelling and grammar.
8. Unique Rub Tattoo Ideas
This side tattoos of a cluster of pine trees, inked in rich black ink set against the skin as the background. The trees are arranged in a way that the imaginary trail is along the negative space, at an uneven height for added dimension. The longevity of the ink in this rib area will never be an issue because of the highly saturated detail.
This black and gray tattoo of a war scene is executed in light feathered strokes, in which some parts are faded out mimics that of a water color painting. It has a very light approach to otherwise such a bold and dangerous scene. This tattoo is a stark reminder of one of the harsh realities of life, that there is a war in certain parts of the globe, and that there are men who are in the frontlines fighting for us so the rest of us can sleep soundly at night.
These pieces show that a rib tattoo design can take on any shape or form if given the opportunity be developed from concept into a soundly executed piece of body art.
9. Unfinished Rib Tattoo Ideas
These are easy to identify as unfinished rib tattoos and side pieces that will be become finished pieces – sometimes large linework rib ideas can create uncertainty about whether they’re finished or not.
When the wearer decides later to update their tattoo and add more components to this piece, they will look incredible in color or black and gray, with fine detailed art of broad splashes of style.
Rib Tattoo FAQs
Do rib tattoos look good on guys?
Rib tattoos look fantastic provided they are completed with skill and style. There are innumerable gorgeous concepts to explore from minimalist designs, matching tattoo, and simple text tattoos, to rib tattoo art exploring religious themes.
Choose something you feel strongly about whether an advocacy or a passion that you have been pursuing. Getting tattooed is your expression and art. Getting it done on the side of your body and on spot that is painful than most, make it look good and make it worth it.
What are traditionally popular rib tattoo styles?
There are numerous styles to choose from which will fit the contour of your rib, and look excellent as a tattoo design.
Be a warrior and go tribal, or take on full, vibrant colors of Japanese mythical creatures and beasts. American traditional style is famous for its bold lines and well-loved designs like roses and skulls, anchors, eagles, snakes, or a gorgeous gypsy woman.
Often incorporated with chest tattoo, religious iconography such as the Virgin Mary, crosses, and praying hands tattoos are also popular for rib and side chest body art.
Which new styles are increasing in popularity for rib tattoos?
Realism or realistic style tattoos are an emerging style that exhibits finesse in rendering, refined lines, and big results. Realism is increasingly getting traction in demand and popularity, often producing jaw-dropping portraits and photo-realistic artwork.
For a woman or girl, watercolor tattoo is becoming a go to rib tattoo design choice. Watercolor tattoo mimics the brush strokes and the texture of watercolor on paper canvas.
While they’ve been around forever, specific single needle tattoo ideas are extremely popular among the new breed of tattoo enthusiasts that are looking for smaller, more intimate designs incorporating attention to detail and the use of wider artistic principles.
Are sternum or rib tattoos painful?
A Sternum tattoo or rib cage tattoo can be some of the more painful parts of the body to ink. No matter what big or small rib tattoo design you decide to go with, one thing is for certain: it’s going to be a grueling experience in the initial tattoo session.
With a lack of padding and numerous bones poking around near the skin, the progress of the tattoo needle literally requires some guts. You’ll feel a tickling sensation on the skin near your bones, but the real treat of this experience is when you the tattoo needle hits bone.
To be honest, tattoo pain shouldn’t be too much a factor when you consider the admirable ink you’ll be left with. Getting a good night’s sleep beforehand, staying hydrated and taking breaks can make your appointment much easier to get through, and keep the pain level bearable.
If it’s your first tattoo or if you’re inexperienced, make sure you work with a tattoo artist that can help you through the most painful elements, allowing you chances to alleviate the tattoo pain as you go with changes of focus, short respites during the tattoo session, and even tall tales of the tattoo parlor.
Did you enjoy each rib tattoo idea and get inspiration for a new tattoo? For more bad ass galleries click on the links below: