Life is better with friends, there’s no two ways about it. Whether they are lifelong relationships, forged in childhood and spanning decades, or newer friends, finding common interests in sports and music, the bonds that we make are what bring joy into our lives. Given the importance of the roles that we play in each other’s shared experiences, it is no wonder that people like to commemorate these friendships.
Many people join social clubs as a way to demonstrate a communal relationship; other people use a shared interest like sports or motorcycles as a way to strengthen the bonds between each other. While these are all legitimate ways to establish the ties that hold a group of friends together, some people prefer a more permanent memorial.
Tattoos have long been used as a means to demonstrate a shared ideology, though these days you don’t need to be in a biker gang to have matching ink. Friendship tattoos are a popular way to permanently display the importance of a relationship between individuals. Whether these pieces are between two people or a larger group, they can be beautiful tributes to the shared bond of friendship and loyalty, and will permanently commemorate these relationships that are so important in our lives.
Here are some great examples of the different forms and styles that these meaningful tattoos can take.
1. Black and Gray Friendship Tattoos
Tattoos are about as personal as you can get; permanently marking one’s body is a powerful act, and as such the design and style are deeply personal. Just like all things aesthetic, people have different tastes. Some people like bright vivid colors, others like a more subdued approach.
Black and gray tattoos have an elegance about them that many people prefer, and this lack of color allows artists to achieve a more classic look in these tattoos. Whether the designs are made up of big bold line work, clean script work, or delicate shading, these black and gray pieces are a great way to memorialize a friendship between two or more people.
These simple, matching tattoos use clean, precise lines to create a unique design that will permanently remind the wearers of the importance of their friendship.
These stylized compass roses made out of crossed arrows with a heart at the center are applied using clean line work and perfectly placed between the shoulders, at the base of the neck.
These are great tattoos that use a loose feel to produce complementary Tarot cards whose relationship to each other represents the profound significance of their friendship.
These black and gray tattoos use clean lines and stipple shading to create mirror images that, when held side by side, create a stylized butterfly.
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2. Color Friendship Tattoos
For some people black and gray simply are not enough to fully express themselves. For these folks color in a tattoo is a must. These vibrant colors are the perfect way to capture the importance of friendships and let everyone that sees them know how much the individuals mean to each other.
That being said, the variety of styles and designs that incorporate color ink are endless. Some people choose designs that are reminiscent of comic book art—some people choose to get actual comic book art tattooed on them—while others prefer to use color as a way to enhance photorealistic portrait work, taking these vivid pieces to the next level. Perhaps the most eye-catching of these tattoos use loose frameworks and large swaths of color ink to recreate the vibrant effect of watercolor paintings on the wearer’s body.
However they choose to incorporate color into their designs, these friendship tattoos are great examples of the style and are sure to turn heads.
These excellent tattoos use fully saturated color to recreate the popular cartoon characters, The Powerpuff Girls, which no doubt hold special meaning to the wearers.
These clean tattoos use a limited color palette and an illustrative feel to produce the image of two girls sharing a swing watching the sunset.
Here are two great examples of the way vibrant colors and a clean outline can perfectly recreate the effect of watercolors in a tattoo.
3. Delicate Friendship Tattoos
Not everyone enjoys the bold line work that typifies some of the more classic tattoo styles. For these people a more subtle approach is preferred, allowing them to wear designs that are reminiscent of pencil drawings or hand etched lithographs. These lovely, often small, designs are great ways to commemorate friendships without the use of vibrant colors or large swaths of black ink. Instead, these pieces make use of gentle shading, often incorporated with hatching and stipple work, to create subdued designs that give the impression of being deeply personal and profoundly meaningful.
These are excellent tattoos that demonstrate what a talented artist can do without the need for bold lines and vivid colors as long as they have a steady hand and an interesting design.
These clean, black and gray tattoos use fine line work and subtle shading to reproduce four-leaf clovers, with prominent placement on the shoulder allowing the wearers to easily show them off.
These two tattoos use excellent line work and black and gray shading to perfectly capture knotted ropes that most likely represent the ties that the bind these friends together.
These small tattoos use fine lines and limited whip shading to create an interesting design that uses hearts to create four-leaf clovers.
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These clean, black and gray tattoos use an interesting design that implies the importance of a balance between the irrational nature of the heart and the logic of the mind.
4. Floral Friendship Tattoos
Flowers make for some of the best subject matter for tattoos and have been incorporated into permanent body art for about as long as tattoos have been around. Some of the greatest examples of tattooed flowers come from the Japanese tradition, although they have found their way into just about every style and tattoo school around the world.
Thanks to the incredible psychological power of the sense of smell, many people develop deep emotional bonds with specific flowers from their youth. Sometimes, simply the aroma of a particular flower can send a person on a trip back to their childhood. Because of all this, flowers make for some of the best tattoos commemorating friendships, and here are some great examples that incorporate these beautiful plants.
These peonies are a great example of how a skilled approach to line work and hatching can create excellent tattoos without the need for color.
These lovely little tattoos—which appear to be California poppies—use delicate line work and a limited color palette to capture the distinguishing features of these charming flowers.
This artist produces a simple, yet attractive tattoo using an extremely limited number of lines, applying just enough ink and well thought out negative space to define the key elements of the design.
These tattoos use precise line work and seductive placement to enhance the contrasting elements of knives and flowers.
5. Friendship Tattoos with Hands
Some scholars theorize that the tradition of shaking hands began as a greeting that demonstrated neither party was holding a weapon; the open hand was a powerful symbol of mutual trust. The open hand is still a meaningful gesture that is intricately tied to the human experience. When we sit around a table and break bread, we use our hands to pass food; we hold hands with those we care about; we use our hands to play games with each other as well as to work together.
Seeing the multi-faceted roles that hands play in our interaction with each other, it is no surprise that many people choose to incorporate them into tattoos that commemorate friendship. Here are some great examples of how using hands can make for great tattoos.
These clean tattoos use limited line work to create the iconic image of two hands performing the unbreakable friendship bond of pinky swearing.
Here is another design that uses hands, these two holding a red string that links them together as a representation of the wearer’s friendship.
These lovely designs use precise line work and a limited amount of black and gray shading to create a concept that uses some small alterations to produce more interesting tattoos.
These pieces use clean line work and negative space to produce the simple image of hands with fingers crossed, no doubt holding special significance to the wearers and their friendship.
6. Friendship Tattoos with Hearts
Few shapes are more immediately identifiable than the stylized heart that we’ve all been drawing since childhood. This design dates back at least to the 5th century BC with mixed metaphorical significance, however, in modern times this ideogram is universally associated with love—most often, but not always—of the romantic variety.
Like many other common shapes and designs, hearts have a long history in the world of tattoos, dating back to some of the earliest examples of American traditional designs. Nowadays many people chose to get hearts inked on their bodies, not only as a symbol of romantic love but fraternal love as well. This shape is instantly recognizable, and seeing two people with matching heart tattoos leaves little doubt about the importance and strength of their relationship.
These cute tattoos use black and gray ink along with limited use of white for the highlights to create an ode to the wearer’s shared love for hot coffee and cold beer.
7. Friendship Tattoos with Words
Language is one of the defining characteristics of humanity, allowing us to communicate complex ideas and shape the cultures that set us apart from the other animals we share the planet with. While many people prefer the symbolism and more abstract meanings that can be attributed to images and patterns, there is something to be said for the candor of tattooing words on your body.
This is not to say that script cannot be made aesthetically pleasing or visually stimulating, quite the opposite in fact. The styles and designs that can be created using written words are virtually limitless, with a talented artist being able to produce meaningful script that perfectly conveys the power of friendship, all while still making an eye-catching tattoo.
These tattoos use a simple black script that is reminiscent of classic typewriter fonts to produce these powerful tattoos that are a testament to the strength of their friend group.
This design takes a clean script that is simple and incorporates a small touch of color to complete these interesting tattoos.
These tattoos take a loose cursive script that is childlike in its simplicity and uses it to create tattoos that commemorate the durability of the wearer’s friendship.
These pieces use a loose script and prominent placement on the forearm to display a great message that unites these friends through their positivity.
These matching tattoos use clean line work and Khmer script to commemorate the wearers’ “Happy Happy” friendship.
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8. Funny Friendship Tattoos
There are many things that can start a friendship, a shared interest, a mutual friend or often simply a strange turn of events. However, perhaps the most important factor in maintaining a friendship is a sense of humor. More often than not, it is the people who make each other laugh that are the ones that keep friendships alive, even when separated by time and distance.
Tattoos are a great way to commemorate a shared sense of humor among friends, and allow the wearers to have a private chuckle whenever they catch a glimpse of these meaningful pieces in the mirror or shower. These tattoos are some great examples of how sometimes it’s the laughter we share that defines our friendships.
These clever pieces use clean line work and black and gray shading to produce a funny set of tattoos that are best seen side by side.
These tiny pieces use simple outlines and clean line work to commemorate the wearer’s shared love for all things dino.
These great pieces use clean line work and negative space to create the “daps” or fist bump that has replaced the handshake as the customary greeting in many places.
These small tattoos use clean line work, black and gray shading and limited use of white ink to create the bananas that these friends use to commemorate their friendship.
These simple tattoos use clean line work to produce this funny take on the childhood game of rock paper scissors that rocks a bit more than other pieces.
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9. Geometric Friendship Tattoos
Mathematics is a system designed to help us better understand the world around us and geometry is the branch of mathematics that deals with the size, shape, and dimensions of things, real and imaginary. In recent times, geometric shapes and patterns have become increasingly popular in the tattoo world, most notably patterns that demonstrate the Fibonacci sequence, or Golden Ratio. This is a formula that is present in thousands of different examples in the natural world, from the way plants grow to the structure of mollusk’s shells.
Many people choose to incorporate these patterns, as well as elements of sacred geometry—an ancient discipline that assigns sacred meaning to different shapes and ratios (including the Golden Ratio)—into tattoos. Thus, the shapes that people use in designs can hold a deeper meaning than simply being aesthetically pleasing. Here are some great examples that use these elements to commemorate friendships.
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10. Opposite Friendship Tattoos
They say opposites attract, and this is doesn’t simply hold true for magnets. Sometimes friendship comes in the most unlikely of places, with people that have different tastes and sensibilities forming improbable friendships. Despite the differences that those on the outside see, these people create long-lasting bonds based on deeper connections than musical tastes or favorite movies.
For some, these are the most long-lasting friendships, and they choose to get tattoos that mirror these disparate characteristics. These “opposite” designs also make for great tattoos: the use of mirror imagery and elements that are reminiscent of photographic negatives are pleasing to the eye and can produce interesting tattoos. Here are some examples of how this concept can be used to create excellent body art.
These excellent pieces use black gray ink along with a variety of shading techniques including stipple work and whip shading to create these tattoos that commemorate the way these friends fit together despite their differences.
These tattoos take the ancient Ying-Yang design that represents the balance and harmony of nature and split it down the middle, symbolizing the way the wearers bring balance to each other’s lives.
11. Tiny Friendship Tattoos
Some people prefer large designs that are impossible to miss, drawing the attention of anyone sitting in the same room as them. While there is no denying the appeal of these bold designs, there are many who prefer more subtle designs to represent their friendship. The variety of styles and designs that can be produced on a small scale are practically infinite, limited only by the artist’s skill and imagination.
Tiny tattoos are also interesting in the way they can spark curiosity in the observer: a small tattoo, peeking out from below the collar or on the hip often get people wondering if there is any more ink that they can’t see. These tattoos are a great example of the fact that size isn’t everything, and that a tiny tattoo isn’t directly proportionate to the powerful meaning behind the design.
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