Looking for a solid dose of manly ink inspiration? You’ve found it. When it comes to masculine tattoo designs these pieces are as easy to look at as they are to want.
You’ll be amazed at the new techniques and talent popping up all over the globe in the tattoo industry.
Don’t believe me? Just take a glance at these top 100 best awesome tattoos for guys below. Surely, each piece of ink will inspire you with ideas beyond belief.
In this guide you’ll find a handful of new emerging styles and clever takes on the traditional classics. From forearm sleeves to full back tattoos and more, there’s plenty to enjoy. Of course, I’ve also included manly pieces ranging from small to large in size, which means there’s a little bit of something for just about every man out there.
Remember, if these original styles aren’t enough, you can always find more ideas in the full tattoo ideas for men guide here. The collection is home to thousands and thousands of some of the best male tattoos by top notch artists across the globe.
1. Awesome Tattoos in Black and Gray
People have been giving each other black and gray tattoos for millennia, and the understated appeal of this style remains popular in the 21st century, for good reason. A talented artist can use a limited palette of black and gray ink to achieve a number of different styles. While people are most familiar with the photorealism and portrait styles that remain popular, everything from abstract interpretations to compelling geometric designs can be applied using black and gray. These awesome tattoos are great examples of what is possible with a subdued, black and gray color scheme.
2. Awesome 3D Abstract Tattoos
One stylistic trend that continues to gain ground in the tattoo world uses clever tricks and expert application to give images the appearance of having three dimensions. The two most common ways that artists are able to achieve this effect are through the use of drop shadows and forced perspective.
Drop shadows are used to give the impression that portions of a tattoo are sitting up, off the surface of the skin, while a successful use of forced perspective creates the effect depth going into a tattoo. Using these techniques can make for some new and exciting designs, and the increasing popularity of this style is a testament to the growing number of talented artists that are skilled enough to apply these mind bending tattoos.
3. Awesome Skull Tattoos
Skulls are definitely up there with the most tattoos images in history, along with roses and hearts. Despite their historical and contemporary frequency, skulls can still be effectively employed in compelling tattoos.
Perhaps it is their deep and visceral representation of our collective mortality that keeps them so popular; there is an interesting intellectual juxtaposition that is created when permanently marking one’s body with the most instantly recognizable symbol for the impermanence of life. Besides these philosophical musings, skulls are just plain cool. The different styles and approaches that are applied to these morbid symbols means that they are perfect additions to nearly any tattoo.
4. Awesome Neo Traditional Tattoos
Neo-traditional designs continue to gain popularity thanks to their striking appearance and the myriad of subjects and designs that can be incorporated into the style. Born from the American traditional school of tattooing with its strict rules of subject matter and style, neo-traditional tattoos keep some elements from this older style and toss others to the wayside. The bold lines and fully saturated colors that characterize American traditional are used, but the limited color palette and rules about acceptable subject matter are relaxed. This means that a practically endless variety of ideas and designs can be applied using this exciting approach to tattoos.
5. Awesome Script Tattoos
Script work has come a long way from the scratchy letters and blown out lines that were typical of the style past decades. Modern tattoo artists dedicate hundreds of hours to expanding their repertoire of fonts and styles in order to stay relevant in the ever-changing landscape of professional tattooing.
The variety of script available these days is jaw dropping; from the classic Courier M known for its use in typewriters and its popularity in trash-polka tattoos, to the elaborate ornamentation of Chicano scripts; there is a typeface for every personality and occasion. Script is a great choice for tattoos that commemorate specific dates, loved ones and inspirational quotes and these awesome tattoos are great examples of clean script work.
6. Awesome Nautical/Ocean Themed Tattoos
The Western world’s first introduction to tattoos came in the form of sailors’ interactions with the tribal populations of the South Pacific. The intricate patterns and swirling designs enamored these early visitors to the region and soon the nautical tattoo tradition was born.
While these original sea fairing tattoos were originally applied in a rudimentary style, the art form continued to grow and evolve, and thanks to modern tattoos artists, the possibilities for nautical tattoos are practically limitless. These awesome designs demonstrate a variety of styles and approaches to nautical tattoos that, while diverse and varied, all make for excellent and eye–catching tattoos.
7. Awesome Linework Tattoos
Lines are essential elements in just about every successful tattoo that you will see, however some people prefer to stop there. The vibrant colors of other designs simple do not fit with their aesthetic, and a more illustrative approach is preferred that uses line work to create compelling images.
Some of these pieces use bold lines and fully saturated black ink to create contrast with negative spaces and produce fierce tribal designs, while others take a more delicate approach that uses fine line hatching and stipple work to create designs that are reminiscent of hand cut lithographs. In the hands of a talented artist even this most limited approach can produce awesome tattoos.
8. Awesome Bio Mechanical and Time Tattoos
Another style that has gone from sci-fi fringe to full on artistic movement is based around the interplay between the mechanical and biological and is inspired by classic films like Alien and The Terminator.
These tattoos speak to the growing role of technology in our lives and the cyber-punk reality that we are hurtling for, and while many people choose images of circuitry and wiring, other bio-mechanical interpretations use the springs, gears and levers inside a clock to represent this interaction. Incorporating clocks into these designs can also change the meaning behind the tattoo, adding a symbolic element that represents the limited time we have in life. These are great examples of the style that are sure to turn heads for years to come.
9. Awesome Japanese Irezumi Tattoos
Japan has one of the longest, unbroken tattoo traditions in the world, and these beautiful motifs that feature flowers, samurai and koi fish remain popular to this day. One reason that so many people continue to choose this style is the variety of symbolism that is built into these striking designs.
For example, a blue koi swimming up the arm has strong associations with masculinity and determination in overcoming obstacles, while a red fish swimming downstream is more closely represents feminine strength and rest after having completed goals. This conceptual structure along with the vibrant colors and striking nature of the designs make Japanese inspired designs an excellent choice, and these pieces are great examples of the style.
10. Awesome Owl Tattoos
Birds have been popular elements in tattoos for over one hundred years: some of the first examples of Western tattooing were the swallows tattooed on the hands and shoulders of sailors. While all birds hold their own specific meaning and symbolism, there are few birds that maintain such a powerful air of mystery as the owl.
These nocturnal hunters have intrigued humans for millennia and have been common elements in the myths and legends of peoples around the world. Thanks to their role as the Greek Goddess Athena’s familiar, owls have long been symbols of wisdom and knowledge, adding to their complexity. Whether in a black and gray, photo-realistic interpretation, or taking an illustrative approach that uses vibrant colors, owls make for compelling tattoos.
11. Awesome Photorealism Tattoos
At their core, tattoos are tools of self-expression, and as such, what one person finds attractive and exciting might be a nightmare to someone else. Some people like vibrant pieces that take an abstract approach to a subject, while others prefer the accuracy and details of a photo-realistic design. In black and gray, the best of these pieces captures the feeling of classic black and white photography; in color they give the impression of images jumping off the skin.
Most commonly—though as we can see not exclusively—executed in black and gray ink, these pieces are great examples of the style and what is possible when creating tattoos that aim to perfectly capture the tiniest details in ink.
12. Awesome Animal Tattoos
Since the dawn of time humans have been interacting with animals, from hunting deer and antelope to the domestication of dogs and livestock, we have a long and complex relationship with animals that continues to this day.
Some people choose to get powerful animals like tigers and jaguars tattooed on their bodies as a way to incorporate this power into their own lives; other people choose tattoos that act as memorials to their beloved pets. Whatever the motivation behind the ink, animals are design elements that make for compelling pieces and these tattoos are great examples of the style.
13. Awesome Tattoos Featuring Nature
In the modern digital world that we live in, often man must look to nature to find truth and to find himself. As Emerson said, “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” Given this powerful spiritual connect between man and the natural world, it is no surprise that people choose to get scenes and designs found in nature tattooed on their bodies, and thankfully Mother Nature provides plenty of material.
Some people choose to get mountains with towering peaks tattooed as a way to remind themselves of the obstacles they have overcome, while others get rivers and streams inked as a testament to their “go with the flow” attitude.
14. Awesome Neo Classical Tattoos
Some of the most powerful stories come from classical Greece and the stone and marble statues that arose from this artistic tradition. The tales of Icarus and his wax wings and Medusa and her calcifying gaze as well as the marble busts of thinkers like Plato and Socrates all make for awesome tattoos and these pieces demonstrate just how great they can be.
15. Awesome American Traditional Tattoos
The granddaddy of all Western tattooing, American traditional is still going strong, and for good reason. The bold lines and fully saturated colors that characterize the style ensure that the designs don’t succumb to the ravages of time the way other less bold pieces do. The powerful imagery that is used in this style—ships, wolves, daggers, and eagles are all common—make this style perfect for any man with a daring sense of personal style, and the variety of subject matter means that there is an American traditional tattoo for everyone.
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