Top 53 Octopus Tattoo Ideas [2020 Inspiration Guide]
Chances are you already know this underwater sea monster has eight sucker-bearing arms, but did you know it can camouflage itself for defense?
When it comes to the octopus, Greek mythology has often viewed it as a symbol of Medusa’s severed head.
It’s break, the tongue, while its tentacles the snakes. Yet, it makes sense, when you consider that the octopus also has two eyes like humans too.
However, what makes the octopus truly unique aside form it’s suction cup like tentacles is it’s highly adaptive CNS which can mimic surroundings and camouflage itself. Not to mention, when injured or under attack, it will detach a limb in order to misdirect its predators.
In a sense, you can say this represents how we must cut loose excessive baggage from our lives in order to move forward.
Another unique characteristic of the legendary sea monster is that it also has a soft saclike body which makes it extremely flexible and agile. It symbolizes the idea of grace even in times without structure or order.
To help you come up with some ink ideas, I’m going to share with you a collection of the top 60 best octopus tattoos for men. From the giants the Kraken once depicted off the coast of Norway and Greenland to the ancient sailor tales of ships being attacked.
Octopus Tattoo Ideas
This octopus arm sleeve is a brilliant example of classical black and gray tattooing. The detail sketching is tremendous, allowing the piece to create and depict numerous black line and gray scale applications. The realism of bumps, tentacles, siphon and suckers is clean and effective. The patches of negative space help add nuance to both the head of the beast and shade elements of the impressively etched galleon above it.
Love this neo traditional take on an American classic tattoo. The bright, vivid use of blue and red color is epic, working well in opposition to the stylized graffiti like script. Again, the clever use of negative space fashions balance and subtly expand the shading effects throughout the body art, while the eye itself is a cool color effect.
This blue ring Octopus tattoo is unfinished but when complete will look fantastic. The colorful realism of the creature will be amplified by completing the thicker black outlines. This will provide clarity in the work and help focus the ancillary technical elements such as suckers and skin markings.
A killer black line feature. It’s spare, but looks fresh on the skin through effective mini shade effects of hatches, hashes, and hybrid dot work shading. I also like the placement on the inner bicep, which spreads across the skin and allows the creation of a broader octopus tattoo. The thick, black slash of the eye is also an effective small detail.
The single tribal piece of negative space in the center of this brilliant Octoskull combination is superb. It’s contrast effect against the brilliant fill colors and gray alt fill pattern stands out stylishly. The rest of the tattoo has an amazing array of detail found in the 50+ best tattoo ideas. Both skull and creature have been cleverly etched in the realist style.
Wow. I dig the different patterns creating vibrant skin of this lunging stylized blue ring Octopus. The coursing tentacles heading across the subject’s chest are a wicked, vine like use of detail, with sweet pink suckers adding alternative shape. The subtle combination of soft gray scale shading and negative space is well done – allowing the color palette to pop off the skin.
An epic, absurdist line tattoo. The artist has skilfully shown off an array of different technical fill styles to map out an elegant and busy masterwork of sketch tattooing. The lines and hashes versus the suckers on tentacles. The hybrid dotwork shading against crisp horizontal black line in the spacesuit. The flat black fill of the astronaut’s helmet against the squinting empty eye of the sea creature. It’s a kick ass depiction of top quality, painstaking detail.
This is a confusing Japanese style blue ring octopus tattoo. The snakeskin take on the beast’s skin is a cool effect, however the image as a whole lacks clarity and definition. From a delivery perspective, a bigger eye, more crisp facial detail and a clearer alternate fill colour would’ve helped create nuance in the art work.
This is an innovative split-screen tattoo combining animal realism and classical Greek application. The opposing images are different in color and shade but have been inscribed in a fashion that meshes effectively. I particularly like how the various negative space effects transition across both parts, such as the head of the creature and alt fill of the Greek God Poseidon’s beard.
Wow! An intricate, Nat Geo foldout style full back octopus tattoo with an amazing coral reef fill effect playing off the orange central beast. There’s an astounding amount of time consuming detail threaded through the piece, whether it’s nodular suckers, bubbling skin, or funky chunks of coral peeking through. The blue ocean color works as bright, vivid fill in transition to thicken and frame the main parts of the tattoo.
A solid but unspectacular looking octopus piece featuring killer hybrid dotwork to shade the sea creature. It’s a clever depiction of difficult technique casual observers may not notice. The curve and curl of tentacles is also effective, fashioning opportunities for the black line to stand out.
Nice. This is a mean looking octopus. American Traditional effects underpin it’s compact delivery, while the marble type globes of tiara crosswork suckers and trumpet like siphon are unique technical applications.
Another octopus tattoo remixing American Traditional style in execution. Utilizing a human eye effect is a gamble that paid off, although the big nasty looks like it has an allergic condition judging by the redness around the orb. The length and breadth of the piece is suitable, as the old school ship faces being crushed by the octopus tentacles.
The technical effects in this sea creature are clean and sharp. It fashions the tattoo into fresh, vibrant body art with cleanly inscribed color fill and strong lines. Love how the shading inspires comparison to the body armor of a seahorse.
You’ll struggle to find a cleaner black and gray animal tattoo. It’s etched with an almost cartoon like larger than life mentality. The suckers look strong, bubbling at the bottom of a crisply delivered head and body shaped by light shade and negative space. The Japanese style fills at the top – and neg space curve of seaweed – give the tattoo a fully fleshed out, well balanced aspect.
A heavy duty, busy octopus calf tattoo (they are almost always orange, was there a discount on this color ink?), again using Irezumi elements to help scale the art work. This piece lacks the clarity of some others in this piece, but the age of the work in this image may be a factor – this piece was completed a long time ago. One area i’d touch up is the beast’s eyes – they could do with some bright yellow or burnished gold fills to make them stand out in the image center.
This tattoo carries an epic Jules Verne 20000 Leagues Under the Sea Vibe. I like how the captain’s stern visage and fresh detailed pipe hand mix with the realistic aquatic skin shade effects of the octopus. The artist has cleverly manipulated the space available to create a beastly inner arm art work of style and elegance.
This is killer chest ink. The octopus is essentially a mix of geometric concepts fleshed out with sharp lines and fine black ink fills to create an almost tribal tattoo. Love the head and mantle (globe bit) filled with negative space circles surrounded by black fill. The artist has shown a superb sense of technique and style within a simple black delivery.
Another busy neo traditional octopus upper arm sleeve. It’s colorful and vivid, but somewhat confusing due to the odd choice of eye ink and lack of clearly defined facial features. The traditional anchor part of the tattoo is well done, serving to break up the creature’s colorful chaos with gray ink and smooth rope effects.
A brilliantly inscribed thigh tattoo. With a huge bit of space to work with the artist has cleverly combined the ship with alternate fill colors (dig that bright green seawater) while allowing the massive sea creature to shimmy up from the depths and prepare to wreck it. The deft shade sails create excellent contrast against the other colors and show off the brilliant pattern of the boat. Working outward with color from the central negative space fashions a unique style of octopus. The tentacle’s curvature and alternative ridge lines complement the beast’s shape as well.
The bright, bubbling water is a real highlight of this lower forearm tattoo. Where it falls down is in the lack of defined outline. If I was the subject, a future trip to the tattoo chair would result in a bunch of fine black line additions to make the piece clearer, and i’d also add alternate shade effect to the suckers in order to give them some pop.
There’s great technical parts of this octopus ink – the neg space and line work looks fresh – however the eye is small and weak in comparing to the rest of the tattoo. The eyes, and the dark shading in general can be improved upon with white ink highlights.
This octopus tattoo has a tremendously unique – for this type of body art – alternating sharpie fill scribble and negative space to catch the eye with tentacle shading. Love how the head starts above shoulder to dominate the ship, and works down from there with strong flow and curves.
This octopus looks like it has come from a genetic experiment that gave it an elephants textured skin and a similar looking head. The concept is superb, however the abstract delivery gets in the way. Too many parts of the tattoo looking unfinished or unfocused and could do with stronger definition. A greater use of flair color filling could also help to promote the avant garde pattern effect yet still flesh out the art work.
Wooooo, this ink is hectic – the resultant hair cut not so much. This subject is not messing around, with a bad ass Skulltopus tagged onto the back of his head. The image is an absolute cracking piece of work with cleverly etched tentacles snaking in and out from the eye sockets of a bang on skull. I can dig this bold, brilliant concept and execution.
Love the curvature of this octopus tattoo. It fashions a wonderful sense of shape and provides the opportunity for intense, heavy black fuzz shading technique to flow along the length of the piece. I like the additional black blobs throughout, they complement the charcoal shade palette.
A massive thigh and upper leg blue ring octopus tattoo. It would have been a time consuming and exhausting piece to deliver for both artist and subject. The contrasting sky blue pattern of the tentacles and Japanese style wave elements are nicely etched, however the piece is let down by the under cooked negative space suckers. It has a real need to have these suckers either lined more effectively – they’re currently just circles – or have added shade and flavor thrown in to give the section and entire tattoo real pop.
There’s never much downside to ships being crushed by a giant sea creature. This full back piece represents an absolute masterclass on crafting a classical black and gray wrecking crew tattoo. Look at it, soak it in. Because it’s almost flawless – there’s realism, fine line tattooing, negative space elements, concept waves and sky shadow, plus three major images – beast, ship, and lighthouse – that complement each other with only their color being the same. This is a feature portfolio piece of art.
This salmon colored octopus stands out despite the artist’s choice not to use fine black outline, a gamble which pays off in the nuance of vivid color shades. Love how the subtle blue back fill opposes the almost delicate creature and allows it to shine.
Cool pulp fiction novel style delivery of heavy black fuzz shading. The tattoo is well placed on the shoulder/arm join which allows the tentacles to loop and twist in multiple directions. The sole change i’d make to this piece would be a bright eye fill in gold or yellow to create a vivid alternative to the overall heavy effect.
Wow! Full color realism and a graduating complete sleeve tattoo etched with masterful precision. It looks like a still image from the next Sharknado movie, where a Great White teams with a giant octopus to take down a rogue soviet freighter cruising toward San Francisco intent on plunder and war. The color applications in this work are next level, matching the bright blue of Gatorade with perfectly inscribed feature animals and machinery. Love the fiery sky too, absolutely blowing up the top of the image in opposition to the sensible steel work gray of the freighter. This body art is the ultimate in color tattoo.
This is a clever black and gray chest/upper arm combination tattoo. The massive arm tentacles mesh beautifully with the skull as they play well on shape and placement, stretching outward from the armpit with effective snaking patterns. The folds of skin and suckers look tremendous through mixing up gray scale shading and clever line work.
This alternative octopus is tremendous. The random use of scratch lines, cross and hatches are wonderful alternative fill giving the creature verve and individuality. I’m not sure about the spiral etching on the far right though. While it’s likely a deliberate technical choice the, black sharpie type fill is choppy, messy, and looks ugly when compared to the main octopus image.
Love the color choices in this blue ringed sea creature. The contrasting bronze of the octopus skin matches up perfectly with the flat blue effect. The artist’s choice to fashion and electric blue style in the on-skin blue is clever use of bright ink highlight.
Hahaha. This cheeky chap is quite the gentleman octopus. The use of top hat, monocle and mustache adds a layer of humor to the realism of the beast, which is filled with dark, compact shadow detail for the tentacles and more lightly inscribed dotwork technique for the body. All he’s missing is a restorative cup of tea (or eight).
A busy neo traditional octopus pumping bright colors into the traditional features of negative space and crisp black outlines. For me the boat is the highlight, it’s proud, stern and unyielding against the chaos of the storm above and sea creature below.
Another stupendous chest tattoo using fine details in fashioning a flowing, writhing octopus. The curves of bold line tentacles are counterbalanced by dark gray shading and small yet intricate groups of suckers, while the head and mantle are realistic in shape and pattern.
While the photograph’s angle doesn’t help this octopus ink lacks the style and subtlety of other eight legged sea monsters in this list. There’s cool details like the suckers and tattoo placement, however the color choice of black is a miss. The work is unable to generate enough contrast between the brown, and black outline. A brighter choice of color and additional black line details would have helped this body art tremendously.
The shading and fill technique give this octopus chitinous armor like ants, wasps, or scorpions. I love it as concept in conjunction with the steampunk style head and eyes. Each section uses great shading and line work to pull off the intense, heavy effect of beast more machine than man. Also like the small pockets of air bubbles created with black fuzz shade and negative space to help scale out the tattoo.
It’s interesting that in a beautifully composed and brightly colored tattoo the most eye catching part of the octopus is the mix of negative space and black line ink at the center. The suckers are great. They’re simple and subtle in contrast to the slickly vivid red of the rest of the ink.
Okay, this is a horrifying sea monster but in the best possible way. It looks evil, fat and bloated, brought to life with a bilious shade of slime gray. It could be a cover up based on the older, shaded piece still shown at the bottom and framed within the lower tentacles.
This is a cracking side tattoo. The colorful blue and green octopus does a tremendous job balancing traditional Japanese themes with absurdist elements such as the infinity eyes. Love the transitional line work in the gray shaded water and white caps. The back shading fills behind the ship’s mast is also awesome, with the circles matching up well behind the line work stars.
Another cool 3D blue ring octopus tattoo, with the color fill of purple and pink a transcendent technical effect well supported by bright sky blue rings. It’s the main element of the piece, drawn with exceptional skill and subtlety.
A negative space central image can be risky to pull off in any tattoo, but it’s done with assurance in this octopus piece. It’s nuanced and technically brilliant – I love the small snatches of black shading and the whip like curving of the tentacles, with the simple suckers on the underside providing contrast to the vast negative space.
Octopus Tattoo FAQs
What does an octopus tattoo symbolize?
Many people get an octopus tattoo to remind themselves that through different situations in life, it’s often best to be flexible and use creativity and intelligence to solve problems.
The octopus’ striking appearance means it’s a mysterious and elusive creature, traits that can serve well in many of life’s instances and associates with intuition.
The octopus acts as a totemic guide for those who need motivation to try new things, stray from their normal paces of life, and to let go from routine and normality occasionally.
What does a kraken tattoo mean?
The kraken was an enormous sea monster said to live in the deep, swallowing unwary ships that passed too close to its watery lair.
The Kraken is a popular octopus-style motif for large scale new wave tattoos on the back, chest or in sleeve form, while classic black and gray tattoos of the mythical monster are also hugely popular.
Did you enjoy these octopus tattoo designs? Click on the links below for more awesome galleries of sea going creatures, and monsters of the deep: