Nationalistic pride has reached a striking zenith with the American grandeur of patriotic tattoos. There are endless layers of self-assured brilliance that can be found in these designs.
A patriotic tattoo speaks volumes about a man’s character and internal values. An unmatched essence of manly duty is encapsulated with these emblazoned beauties. There is a lot of potential that can be reached in the realm of patriotism, so let’s take a look.
For starters, there is no way to fall short with a flag-waving presentation. This logo is profoundly recognizable, and the statement will be undeniably clear. For a more specific type of patriotic tattoo, guys can display imagery from their preferred branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Less common routes include presidential caricatures, and there are 44 commanders-in-chief to choose from. Candidates for the high office are also apt for inclusion.
The U.S. Constitution is another avenue for patriotic designs, and its text can be replicated for stellar outcomes. The articles and amendments contain a wide range of usable quotes, and the calligraphy can be beatifically re-created as well. The most respected line may very well be, “In God We Trust!”
Take time to salute your country with this stupendous conglomeration of patriotic ink!
1. Patriotic Tattoos Featuring the American Flag
Flags are a powerful symbol of a nation. Inking them on your body makes a true statement about who you are and what you hold dear. Whether you choose a small patriotic tattoo or a huge piece requiring hours of dedicated work, the message is the same – you love your country!
The American flag is rich in symbolism. Established in 1777, the stars represent the fifty states of the union, while the stripes connote the original thirteen American colonies. Color symbolism is at work in the flag as well. Red represents hardiness and valor, blue stands for justice, perseverance and vigilance, while white constitutes innocence and purity.
Patriotic tattoos which feature the American flag can be found in color as well as blackwork, big and small, realistic and abstract. Represent the flag in the way which feels most true to yourself, but keep in mind the rules of respect. A fabric flag, for instance, must be cared for in a certain way, never flown in darkness unless illuminated, and cannot be flown under another flag unless it’s for religious purposes. There are many more specific flag display rules – research them for yourself to create a truly respectful tattoo!
Before choosing an artist for your flag tattoo, check out their work. Color, color shading and various types of blackwork – especially linework – come into play when inking a realistic American flag.
2. Eagle Patriotic Tattoos
One of the most recognizable and fierce symbols of the USA, a bald eagle has been the country’s official bird since 1782. With its sharp talons, seven-foot wingspan and piercing yellow eyes, it’s visually stunning, and certainly a force to be reckoned with. In our minds, this makes it an ideal tattoo subject, whether alone or as part of an American collage piece.
Bald eagles are not exactly rare birds. They’re listed as a species of “least concern,” indicating that their numbers in the wild are rising. They’ve been a protected species for many years, due to hunting and pesticide poisoning. Thankfully, conservation efforts have brought their numbers back into a safe range.
Eagles – like any birds – are brilliant tattoo subjects. When inked with skill, feathers can appear so lifelike as to nearly leap off the skin. If possible, choose an artist with skill in this area, as it can be tricky and detract from the overall tattoo if done improperly. Proportion and placement are also important in achieving the most realistic eagle possible.
3. Patriotic Tattoos in Black & Gray
While the official colors of the USA are red, white and blue, one glance at our gallery will show you just how visually extraordinary a blackwork patriotic tattoo can be. The country is rife with symbolism, and it doesn’t all depend on colors. Even a flag – the number one red, white and blue symbol – can be inked using blackwork techniques with truly remarkable results. It all depends on the versatility of your design and the skill of your tattoo artist.
A flag done in blackwork is a bold choice, and demands that other aspects are boldly rendered to make up for the lack of color. The last thing you want is for people to look at your tattoo and have to ask what it is – you want them to know at first glance that it’s the American flag! Luckily, thanks to distinctive stars and stripes, this is a fairly easy task.
4. Patriotic Tattoos on the Back
While there’s no wrong place for patriotic tattoos, there’s something highly symbolic about a back piece. Something at your back guides and protects you. The phrases “I’ve got your back,” or “Got your six” exist for a reason – we have to have ultimate trust in whatever is directly behind us. Depending on the situation, this could mean life or death. What better place to honor the country and patriotic ideals that have guided your life?
Back tattoos give you a great deal of canvas with which to work. You might stick with a smaller design, incorporate a patriotic piece into existing work or go full-bore and cover your back with an homage to the place you call home. Regardless of how you go about it, your patriotic back piece is sure to turn heads. It may even garner a few salutes!
If you’re on the thinner side or your back tattoo is going to extend down over your ribs, remember that tattoos cause the most pain when inked on skin which is close to the bone. It’s definitely worth it in the end, just be aware, and let your tattoo artist know if you have a low pain tolerance.
5. Military Patriotic Tattoos
While everybody is free to get a patriotic tattoo, they often hold more significance for those who have served in the US armed forces. In fact, many current and ex-military feel that they have a duty to commemorate their service on their skin. If you’re getting a military tattoo, first off, thank you for your service. Next, let’s dive into all the options!
Your particular branch of service will, at least to a point, determine the basis of your tattoo. The six branches of the US military are the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy and – relatively new and uncommon – the US Space Force. There are specializations within each branch, perhaps most familiarly the Navy Seals. You may wish to incorporate your specialization, rank or other details into your tattoo. Each branch also has on-call personnel, called the Reserve or Guard. These members typically work civilian jobs, but train regularly throughout the year and can be called to active duty if required.
Some choose patriotic tattoos not to commemorate their own service, but to honor that of another. If this is the purpose behind your tattoo, try to fit the ink to the person. Did they have a specialty? Were they in a particular battle? Do you have their dog tags? Details like this can take personalization to a whole new level, truly honoring a fallen or former US service member.
6. Uncle Sam & Lady Liberty Patriotic Tattoos
While not as common as bald eagles or the flag, tattoos featuring these iconic US symbols can be creative, culturally relevant and visually impressive. The Statue of Liberty, often called Lady Liberty, stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Given to the United States as a gift from France in 1886, she has served as a symbol of freedom and peace for well over one hundred and thirty years. Visitors can climb a dizzying set of stairs all the way up into her crown.
In past eras, the Statue of Liberty was often the first thing immigrants saw of this country, standing near the famous passage point of Ellis Island. Even though Ellis has been closed for many years, Lady Liberty remains a powerful image of the nation as a welcoming entity.
Uncle Sam has decidedly different connotations. Usually depicted wearing a white top hat with a blue starred band, this US figure has been recruiting young men and women into military service for years. The nickname of Uncle Sam for the government dates back to 1813 and a running joke among servicemen which transformed the “US” stamped on barrels of rations from “United States” to “Uncle Sam” as a reference to a meat-packer named Samuel Wilson. The name stuck, and political cartoons drew Sam in various ways throughout the following years. The image we’re most familiar with today came about during World War One. James Montgomery Flagg created the iconic Sam – top hat, blue jacket, finger pointing straight at you – for WWI recruitment posters.
As with any human depictions, choose a tattoo artist skilled in facial expressions, proportions and poses. These details can take your Sam or Liberty from so-so to spectacular!
Are you looking for more amazing patriotic tattoos? Click on the links below for more inspirational ink galleries: