From the cowboys keeping cattle in line to the soldiers on the battlefield keeping enemies at bay, barbed wire has cut its way into the history books.
When Joseph F. Glidden introduced the perfected invention of barbed wire back in 1873 it quickly took the world by storm.
Though, like all inventions, it took several milestones to reach with the original idea which actually dates all the way back to Englishman Richard Newton in 1845. Over the course of time, adding clusters of sharp spikes at intervals along the thin steel wire would prove to be possible.
Toward to the 19th century, demand for barbed wire soared to new heights. With the American frontier moving westward, the scare availability of traditional fencing materials like wood and stone in the Great Plains meant unfavorably high costs. In comparison, barbed wire was considerably less expensive to purchase and near effortless to install.
Of course, ranchers and farmers weren’t the only ones who wanted the cattle retaining technology. So did the railroad companies to keep livestock from wandering on their tracks. Within time, barb wire would also find its way into the battlefield with its first appearance back in the Spanish American war and Russo Japanese War.
When World War I rolled around barbed wire offered a solution to keeping combatants out of the trenches. As a deterrence, it also helped paved the wave for more machine gun and grenade action thanks to the larger distance of separation.
History aside, gentlemen who get barbed wire tattoos get them for numerous reasons. For starters the style can act as a symbol of war with a memorial-based meaning behind it. It can also serve as a reminder of being a prison behind penitentiary bars whether through combat or crime.
Religious gentlemen can interrupt barbed wire as a symbol of the Crown of Thorns Jesus once wore. While, farmers and rangers might just like the idea based upon its heritage in relation to their line of work. In reality, there’s a lot of different reasons males go with the traditional design, some of which have far deeper meanings.
With that in mind, go ahead and explore these top 60 best barbed wire tattoo designs for men below. You’ll find a handful of cool ideas ranging from realistic to old school. Not to mention, if you think barbed wire is reserved for only armbands you’ll be surprised. The truth is, this creative ink style can be placed just about anywhere you’d like on the body.
1. Barbed Wire Hand Tattoos
Instantly visible, traditionally the hands have been some of the last places to get tattooed, although in the age of Post Malone and teens getting face tattoos this has changed a bit. A barbed wire tattoo on the hand, whether across the knuckles, inside the palm or on the back of the hand, is a powerful statement about the wearer’s rough and tumble aesthetic and appreciation of all things “tough”.
2. Black Ink Barbed Wire Tattoos
Black ink is perfectly suited to create these barbed wire designs that speak to tattoo enthusiasts with scrappier sensibility. Whether they are simple designs that use barbed wire as filler ink to cover blank skin, or as standalone pieces that incorporate interesting elements, black ink and barbed wire go hand in hand.
3. American Traditional Barbed Wire Tattoos
The American traditional style is the progenitor of Western tattooing and it still holds up against contemporary work. The style arose out of the rough world of sailors and this nautical imagery featured heavily in the flash of these original tattoo artists. Skulls and daggers, ships and cannons; barbed wire fits right into this tradition of rum drinking, hardworking tattoo design.
4. Barbed Wire Skull Tattoos
People have been getting skulls tattooed on their bodies for decades and they continue to do so. Perhaps it is the way these macabre elements highlight the temporary nature of life and the sense of irony that is created by permanently inking them on your body. Whatever the reason, skulls make for interesting designs, and are perfectly suited to incorporate with barbed wire.
5. Simple Barbed Wire Tattoos
Sometimes people prefer to keep their designs simple; not every piece needs to incorporate hyper-realistic details to create a successful tattoo and barbed wire is perfect for these simpler designs. With the use of a few precise lines, a talented artist is able to perfectly capture the unmistakable shape of barbed wire, eschewing the details and complexity of other designs.
6. Neo Traditional Barbed Wire Tattoos
Borrowing the bold line work of American traditional tattooing but loosening the reigns a bit when it comes to color, application and subject matter, the neo-traditional style is responsible for some of the most stunning tattoos of the last 10 years. Thanks to the greater freedom that this style permits, it is perfectly suited to incorporate a number of different creative compositions and design elements, like barbed wire. These tattoos are great examples of what is capable with the neo-traditional style and an interesting concept.
7. Minimalist Barbed Wire Tattoos
For some people less is more. There is something to be said about tattoos designs that utilize the minimal number of lines and ink to create interesting designs. Once again we see why barbed wire is an immensely popular subject for these understated tattoos; through the use of only a few lines, the unmistakable shape of barbed wire can be successfully achieved without the need for additional elements like color or shading.
8. Innovative Barbed Wire Tattoos
Good artists are constantly pushing boundaries, and tattoo art is no different. Some artists take an approach that redefines what a successful composition looks like, incorporating photo-realistic elements into abstract, collage like arrangements that can leave an observer’s jaw agape.
Other artists use vibrant colors and an interactive placement like in the crook of the arm to create a one of a kind piece of body art. These tattoos are good examples of what is possible in the realm of innovative barbed wire tattoos.
Barbed Wire Tattoo FAQs
What does a barbed wire tattoo symbolize?
Barbed wire has gained a number of different connotations since people started inking it on their bodies decades ago. In the most general terms, barbed wire is often used as a symbol of overcoming hardship, while simultaneously transmitting an air of being unapproachable. However, there are some more specific meanings behind these prickly tattoos.
First off is the association with prison. Barbed wire is an old school prison tattoo that represented time spent behind bars and is a reference to the barbed wire that circles prisons around the world. Barbed wire also holds significance to those in the military, thanks to the historic and continuing role that it plays as a part of the fortification process.
Finally there is the religious association that barbed wire holds regarding Christ and his crown of thorns; barbed wire can be used as a daily reminder of the struggle and sacrifice that Jesus made.
Besides its significance as a standalone piece, when used in cooperation with other elements barbed wire can augment their meanings in interesting ways. A heart on its own is a symbol of love and dedication; when a heart is wrapped in barbed wire an entirely different significance is created. This ability to enhance and alter the meaning of different elements to create unique tattoos, perhaps, is barbed wire’s greatest contribution to tattoo design.
Enjoy these barbed wire tattoos but looking for other examples of old school ink themes? Check out the links below for more bad ass galleries
- Traditional Hand Tattoo Designs
- Traditional Mountain Tattoo Ideas
- Tribal Skull Tattoo Ideas
- Simple Skull Tattoo Designs