People have had a deep fascination and connection with flowers for millennia: some of the oldest petroglyphs that have ever been found (some being almost 15 thousand years old) depicted animals, people, and flowers.
Humans just seem naturally drawn to these embodiments of natural beauty, utilizing them in ceremonies and rituals. When someone dies, bring flowers; when some is married we bring flowers. It seems that whatever the occasion, flowers are welcome.
Flowers are also interesting for the role they play in the natural world. Flowers are integral to the pollination and propagation of just about every plant species on earth; if it weren’t for the flowers that attract the bees that pollinate other plants, the entire eco-system would collapse. Perhaps it is this underlying dependence on these lovely expressions of genetics that have kept humans so interested in flowers.
Enter the tulip. While these lovely flowers are forever tied to Amsterdam and Holland, they originated in Turkey, in what was the Ottoman Empire. Once they hit streets and canals of Holland in the 16th century they became the subject of intensive interbreeding that led to the wide variety and assortment of colors we see today. In fact, in Holland the colorful bulbs became so sought after that a Tulip Craze took over with prices skyrocketing, only to collapse in what is considered the first speculative bubble.
Whether one is interested in the unique history of these charming flowers, or just appreciates them for their inherent beauty, tulips make for excellent tattoos, thanks to their variety of colors and the meanings associated with them. The following pieces are some great examples of what is possible when incorporating tulips into tattoos.
1. Black and Gray Tattoos
A talented artist can do a lot with black and gray; from photo-realistic portrait work, to abstract renditions of plants and animals, black and gray can do it all. These tulip pieces are especially interesting thanks the intellectual contrast of using black and gray ink to create such vibrant and colorful flowers.
2. Color Tulip Tattoos
3. Dreamy/Surrealistic Tulip Tattoos
Tulips make for excellent color tattoos thanks to the variety of tones and shades that these lovely flowers take. From lustrous red petals that elicit romantic reactions, to the rarest of purples so dark that they appear black, tulips provide the perfect opportunity to use a striking palette.
These flowers make for excellent surreal tattoos, not only because of the wide array of vibrant colors that they come in, but also thanks to their Dutch heritage and associations with one of the great painters: Van Gogh. Tulips are perfectly suited for these out of the ordinary artistic interpretations.
4. Geometric Tattoos
A growing trend in tattooing, incorporating geometric patterns—including designs common in Sacred Geometry—into tulip designs is a great way to shake things up and create more unique tattoos. The opportunity that these patterns provide to utilize different applications like stippling and whip shading make them even more interesting design elements.
5. Large Tulip Tattoos
Many people prefer to give an artist a big canvas, and tulips make excellent subjects for these larger tattoos. Bigger tattoos are interesting not only for their striking size, but also for the higher level of details that an artist is able to incorporate into a piece, as is demonstrated in several of these tattoos.
6. Linear Tulip Tattoos
Another trend that has gained popularity in recent years is utilizing fine lines, eschewing the bold lines and careful shading of other styles. Tulips are perfectly suited for this style thanks to their unique shape: using a single line, an artist is able to create and image that leaves no doubt about what type of flower it is.
7. Matching Tulip Tattoos
People have been getting matching tattoos for as long as there have been needles and ink, and for good reason. There is no better way to commemorate a friendship than with matching ink, and tulips are perfect for these permanent bonds.
8. Realistic Tulip Tattoos
While many people prefer a more creative approach, there is something about realistic tattoos that is inherently appealing. A good artist is able to capture all of the tiny details, and thanks to the layers of petals and texture in the stalk and stems, tulips are perfect subjects for this style.
9. Tiny Tulip Tattoos
Just like some people like ink large, as many folks prefer their tattoos small. Once again tulips are an excellent choice for tiny tattoos thanks to their unmistakable shape and assortment of vibrant colors.
10. Traditional Tattoos
American traditional work, with its bold lines and densely packed color, is an interesting choice for tulip tattoos, although as we can see, these lovely flowers translate perfectly into this style. They also provide an opportunity to incorporate other elements, like the windmill in the first piece.
11. Tulip Bouquet Tattoos
While a single rose is a common theme, tulips are best presented in bunches, and these bouquet tattoos are good examples of how great these flowers look in groups. Bouquets also increase the opportunity to add details and use shading to create depth between the individual flowers.
12. Tulip Tattoos with a Quote
For many people, an inspiring or emotional quote is the perfect way to add context and complete a tattoo. These pieces perfectly demonstrate how the addition of a bit of script can improve a tattoo and help it stand out, both visually and conceptually.
Tulip and Faces Tattoos
Faces make for some of the most compelling elements in tattoos and provide endless opportunities to incorporate other elements, tulips included. These tattoos take different approaches—realistic as well as illustrative—but both make for excellent pieces.
13. Tulips and Animal Tattoos
People form strong bonds with animals—whether they be pets or wild animals—and as such they make for meaningful additions to tattoos. These pieces show off the different styles and approaches that can be applied to tulip tattoos with animals.
Watercolor Tulip Tattoos
The application of bright colors with a loose composition to create a watercolor effect is a popular trend in tattoos and tulips are perfect for this style. The vivid colors of tulips scream to be let loose and this style lets their colors “run off the page”.
Tulip Tattoo FAQs
What do tulips symbolize?
Thanks to the variety of colors and patterns in tulips and their interesting history of devoted cultivation, these lovely flowers hold a variety of meaning, although they are almost all inextricably linked to love.
While tulips in general are symbols of unwavering love, the different colors are often said to represent different types of love. For example, red tulips are almost always used to symbolize romantic love, while white tulips were used as a request to a potential love interest and as a way to show worthiness. Yellow tulips were once associated with hopeless love, however in recent times they are more regularly used as symbols of sunshine and cheer.
Thanks to the changing meanings and variety of symbolism associated with these beautiful flowers, there is little doubt that there is a tulip out there for everyone.
Are black tulips real, and what do they symbolize?
While extremely rare and notoriously difficult to cultivate, true black tulips do exist, although more often they are shades of purple and wine red that can appear black. These striking flowers are commonly associated with power and strength. Thanks to the century’s old association between the color purple and royalty, the deepest of purple tulips were favored by the elites.
These rare flowers are prized by collectors and gardeners and make for excellent tattoos thanks to their exotic appearance and the images of royalty and prestige that they conjure.