In the world of male ink enthusiasts, the pinnacle of aesthetic expertise is visible in the realm of cool arm tattoos. For guys, excellent body art usually starts here.
Let’s face it: the finest endowment a man can have is a cool arm tattoo.
These snappy pieces of body art convey sophisticated tastes while emboldening the presentation of your physique. With ink on the arm, excess is truly a great thing. No one is going to be wowed by basic imagery these days, so your expressive adornment must be adroitly comprehensive. This means optical illusions, complex patterns and extraordinary feats of amazement.
Richness is a vital element when designing any cool arm tattoo, especially if you hope to tantalize others with your body art. Vibrant colors are a plus, but some of the best varieties maximize the shading range between black and white. Overall, these extensive schemes are cerebrally gallant and monumentally cultivated.
While the concept seems easy on the surface, its execution is actually quite difficult, especially since the competition is increasing every day. Although the bar has been set high, we’ve got you covered with a ton of ideas right now. The following list of cool ink is downright groundbreaking!
1. Cool Skull Arm Tattoos
This is an excellent upper arm tattoo that utilizes black and gray ink to create a realistic skull while negative space is used to create the contrast that helps this clean tattoo pop.
Here, the artist took a more illustrative approach that uses a bold outline and stylized line work to create the skull, while the reds and browns in the leaves give this tattoo an autumn feel reminiscent of Halloween in the Northeast.
This piece uses a realistic approach and black and gray color scheme to create the mangled skull in a Viking helmet at its center while a Druid elder and evergreen trees complete this ghoulish tattoo.
There are certain trends that stand up to the test of time and retain the charm and high level of appeal that they had from the start. Others age like milk. Skulls fall into the former category. People have been getting skull tattoos since the nautical origins of the Western tattoo tradition, and while the craftsmanship in some of these early tattoos was a bit rough, these rudimentary skulls still retain their rugged appeal.
The tattoo artists of today are light years beyond these haphazard origins of the medium; looking at some of these mind blowing skull tattoos it is hard to believe that it is this same process of applying ink that is responsible for both ends of the spectrum. While these skull pieces vary in style and approach—from vibrant colors to realistic black and gray—they are all excellent examples of what is possible when tattooing these powerful symbols of mortality and our limited time on this planet.
2. Cool Abstract and 3D Arm Tattoos
This is an incredible tattoo that stands out for its realistic approach and the way the artist creates a sense of three dimensions by using white ink to create the highlights on the eyeball that make it appear translucent.
In this tattoo the, artist blends a photo-realistic approach in black and gray ink with an abstract superimposition of the same face looking in a different direction to create an optical illusion that demonstrates the skill and planning that went into the design.
One trend in the world of tattoos that continues to blow minds and attract attention uses clever tricks and expert application to create an effect that gives tattoos the appearance of having three dimensions. Two of the most common techniques used to create the illusion of three dimensions are drop shadows and forced perspective. Drop shadows give the appearance of a design sitting up, off the skin while a successful utilization of forced perspective can create the sense of being able to reach into a design.
Another way talented artists can take designs to the next level is by using white ink to produce reflections within an image that can create the effect of translucent materials like glass and eye balls.
This interesting, 3D approach is often incorporated into abstract designs that push the envelope of not only what is possible in tattoos, but of reality itself. From hyper realistic tattoos that appear to leap off the skin, to abstract compositions that bring to mind the surreal landscapes of Dali paintings, these excellent pieces demonstrate the way that artists continually reimagine what is possible with tattoos.
3. Neo Traditional Arm Tattoos
Here is a an excellent example of the neo-traditional style that uses bold outlines, vibrant colors and an abstract composition to complete this stunning, full color tattoo.
This is another neo-traditional tattoo that puts the vibrant colors and clean lines that characterize the style on full display.
Neo-traditional tattoos are another style that continues to gain fans thanks to their striking nature and the possibility they provide for creative freedom. This more modern tattoo style has its origins in the grandfather of Western tattoos, American traditional. Born out of the navy ports and rum houses of the South Pacific, this tattoo style was characterized by bold lines, a vibrant but limited color palette and specific rules regarding acceptable subject matter.
Neo-traditional designs take many of their stylistic cues from this older school of tattooing, most notably the bold outlines and vibrant colors, and while this lineage is instantly recognizable, this is where the similarities end. The neo-traditional school throws the strict rules regarding acceptable colors and subjects matter to the wayside, allowing artists greater freedom when creating new designs.
These tattoos are a great cross section of the style and demonstrate the wide variety of subjects that a neo-traditional approach can be applied to as well as the vibrant colors and bold outlines for which the style is known.
4. Cool Neo Classical Arm Tattoos
The formative impact that the period known as Classical Greece had on the development of Western civilization is undeniable. Much of modern Western political systems, architecture, sculpture, scientific thought, literature and philosophy have their roots firmly planted in Ancient Greece. With their highly developed social system and its focus on arts and science, it isn’t surprising that this model was used as a guide for modern civilization.
In the world of tattoos designs that draw inspiration from the neoclassical movement—which itself was a revisit to the Ancient Greek traditions—often incorporate the sculptures and busts that depict the heroes and villains of Greek myths and legends. The stoic gazes and dramatic plots make excellent subject matter for tattoos.
As these excellent arm tattoos demonstrate, many people also choose to apply a neoclassical approach to designs that recall the shoulder armor worn by soldiers from a variety of traditions, with exceptional results. These pieces show that the classics are as exciting today as they were 2500 years ago.
5. Cool Norse Arm Tattoos
The Norse people were a large group of people that populated the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark and are most commonly referred to by a different name: Vikings. These fierce people had an advanced understanding of sailing and navigation, allowing them to venture far from their homelands on the raiding parties the earned them their brutal reputations.
In their wanderings, the Vikings travelled as far as the Mediterranean and Middle East and crossed vast expanses of open ocean to visit both Iceland and Greenland. Their war like culture and penchant for pillaging have made Norse tattoos popular among athletes and soldiers, although anyone with a warrior’s spirit will find a connection to these fierce designs.
Along with the mystical runes, battle scarred armor and scenes of combat, Norse mythology is also a deep pool from which to draw inspiration. Crows, bears and wolves all play roles in the stories and legends of the Vikings and make for excellent additions to these mind blowing Norse arm tattoos.
6. Geometric Arm Tattoos
This is an incredible example of what is possible with geometric tattoos: the artist uses an expert application of black ink and negative space to create these mind blowing patterns that are reminiscent of the optical illusions of M.C. Escher and appear to flow into the wearer’s body.
One style that has taken the tattoo world by storm uses the application of intricate geometric designs, and these pieces show off just how exciting these arm tattoos can be. Geometry is the study of math as it relates to the shape, size and position of objects and the properties of space: geometry is a discipline that works to further our understanding of the natural world and how we fit into it.
The profound truths that can be revealed in this mathematic discipline can shape how we think about the world, and such deeply significant designs are great subjects for tattoos. Not to mention they look incredible.
Another reason that so many people are choosing to get geometric inspired designs tattooed on their bodies is the growing interest in Sacred Geometry, an ancient belief system that assigns different shapes and patterns with symbolic and spiritual significance. By incorporating an understanding of Sacred Geometry into tattoos an even deeper significance can be ascribed to these mind blowing arm tattoos.
7. Japanese Inspired Arm Tattoos
With a legacy believed to date back to the Jomon period (10,000-300 BC) Japan has the longest unbroken tattoo tradition in the world, and, as to be expected with a custom dating back thousands of years, Japan has a complex relationship with tattoos. Tattoos were originally used as punishment, a sort of scarlet letter that informed everyone in the community that an individual was untrustworthy. Eventually these unsavory elements chose to self-apply tattoos as a way to subvert these disciplinary practices and it was from this tradition that modern Japanese tattooing grew.
This style, known as irezumi, remains extremely popular today, despite its controversial nature in Japan: while tattoos aren’t prohibited they carry powerful social stigma to this day.
Irezumi is famous for vibrant colors and dramatic scenes that feature samurai, geishas, koi fish and dragons as well as the highly specific significance assigned to different elements. The ability for a talented artist to tell a story on the skin helps these tattoos maintain their popularity and these arm tattoos are excellent examples of the style.
8. Animal Themed Cool Arm Tattoos
Since the first man stalked the savannahs of Africa, hunting gazelle and dodging lions and hyenas, humans have had a rich and complex relationship with the animal kingdom. One only has to look at “man’s best friend” the dog to catch a glimpse of the depth of this relationship.
There is strong evidence that dogs were domesticated around 15,000 years ago, and all of the different breeds of dogs—from bull mastiffs to Pomeranians—are descendants of wolves who got a bit too comfortable around people.
Tattoos are the perfect way to commemorate such powerful relationships and it is no surprise that many people do so. While plenty of people choose to memorialize a beloved pet, even more people choose to get tattoos of animals that they associate with desirable traits. What better way to display one’s fierce determination than with a tiger tattoo? What says regal nobility as clearly as a black and gray lion tattoo? This variety of significance, along with their striking visual appeal, makes animals an excellent addition to many designs.
9. Cool Black and Gray Arm Tattoos
While many people prefer vibrant tattoos that utilize densely packed color, for some this approach simply does not align with their sensibilities. For those that feel color ink doesn’t capture their more refined sense of style, a black and gray color scheme may be the perfect choice.
There is a subdued elegance that is created in these pieces that is reminiscent of black and white photography and smoky scenes from classic film noir. The dramatic effect created in these designs is also perfectly suited to a wide variety of different subject matter and design concepts: from hyper-realistic portrait work that looks like a photograph applied directly on the skin, to the elaborate script work and stylized figures of the Chicano style, black and gray can do the job. These arm tattoos are great examples of the diversity of styles and approaches that can be successfully applied with a black and gray color scheme.
10. Awesome Tribal Sleeve Tattoos
In terms of tattoos, “tribal” has had a bit of a rollercoaster ride over the last twenty years. Starting in the late nineties and early 2000’s, the black, swirling designs that became known as tribal had a spike in popularity only to fizzle out and end up in the “regret file” for many. However, in more recent times a much more nuanced and accurate understanding of what tribal tattoos are has led to a resurgence in popularity.
Now, thanks to one very large and very popular wrestler turned actor, most people think of the alternating patterns of Polynesian tattoo designs when they hear “tribal.” However, there a number of cultural traditions that use tattoos as part of ceremonies and body decoration: Mayan inspired designs, the flower tattoos of the Iban and Celtic knot work are all considered tribal tattoos.
These exciting designs are just a glimpse of what is possible in the world of tribal tattoo designs.
11. Cool Wolf Arm Tattoos
Of all the different animals that man encounters in the wild, the wolf has left one of the most deep and profound impacts on the human psyche. Think of the fairytales that we were told as children; it is always the wolf that is waiting in the darkest woods, skulking in the shadows. The wolf, and its haunting call, elicits a response that runs past modern man’s civilized world and strikes at a primal place in each of us.
While fear is a natural response, for many wolves are positive symbols of the wilder existence from which we came: there was a time when man travelled and hunted alongside wolves, living close enough in fact, for wolves to become companions, eventually becoming the dogs that we cherish as family members.
Whether the motivation for a design is to highlight their ferocious role as hunters and competitors, or as symbols of the harmony of the natural world, wolves make for excellent tattoos and these pieces are some great examples.
Click on the links below for more awesome tattoo galleries featuring sleeves and arm ink:
- Top 47 Geometric Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
- Unique 3D Arm Tattoos
- Top 53 Cover Up Sleeve Tattoo Designs
- Top 53 Arm Tattoo Ideas