You’ll be surprised at the meaning behind skull tattoos, which are quite possibly the most popular designs for ink worldwide, and certainly part of the 50+ best tattoo idea list.
Most assume on first glance their scary, morbid, and intimidating form symbolizes one thing: Death. The truth is, skulls can symbolize everything from celebration of life to serving as a way to ward off evil spirits.
Take for instance the ancient Celtics, who believed skulls were the seat of the soul. The motivation of the mind; constantly creating and cycling the power of life.
Exploring the Renaissance time period reveals that they were a tribute to earth’s delicate nature. Every man dies, as the nature of life is only a temporary one. It’s a reminder of how chasing greed will eventually come to an end.
Under alchemical symbolism, skulls were an icon of higher intelligence, consciousness, forethought and judiciousness. They are what separated mankind’s brilliant mind from that of the irrational beast.
And I’m sure you’ve seen skulls being touted by pirates; literally every pirate movie incorporates them. To pirates they have a meaning of power, strength and protection. But also triumph and rebellion. Some even collect skulls as trophies to say without speaking, “don’t even try us”.
During the Mexican Day of the Dead, sugar skull tattoos have taken lively symbol of being one to celebrate the lives of lost loved ones. They are a tribute to those that have passed.
Last but not last, skulls can mean a significant life change. Combine them with roses and you have the perfect idea of what good and evil looks like. It’s an interesting way to showcase the contrast and balance of life.
Now that you know the history behind the skull itself, take a glance at these top 80 best skull tattoos for men. In terms of innovation, they are beyond creative ad should give you plenty of ideas and designs.
Skull Tattoo Ideas
This is an arm tattoo of the skull perched on top of the all seeing eye surrounded by the rays of the sun as symbolized by the pagan symbol surrounding both objects. This black and gray creation is full of geometrical shapes and patterns which the wearer has an affinity for.
A full sleeved creation of a cloaked skull and a horse. The illustration of the skull is remarkable with all the intricate details the tattoo artist included so as to make it high definition.
An arm tattoo of haunting cluster of skulls with a dedication with a religious theme. The inscription is from the bible, 1Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” This is gentle encouragement to the self for a deeper reflection.
A dark skull tattoo in black and gray illustration using realism techniques to add definition and depth so as to make the ink work look realistic. The skull and crossbones have always been interpreted to be symbols of death, or a warning and danger. Whether this has deeper meaning for the wearer is entirely possible. Interpretation of what the skull represents has evolved into a softer and awakening version.
This is a Japanese style of tattooing and concept, distinctly identifiable by the bold strokes and vibrant colors. In this creation the skull is drawn in animated and lively purple and plum, outlined with a glowing yellow to highlight its jawbone. In Japanese culture, the skull has been associated with great change or a celebration of a well-live life.
They are indeed jaw dropping skulls, on the illustration it’s literal. If you are looking for a concept that is worth modifying your skin for, then this is a good choice. It may have a dark brooding theme but its aesthetic beauty of contrast and definition with an amazing style of realism is refreshing and appealing to the eye. The red accent of imperfect lines is a great addition to break away from the monotones.
This black ink work of a leafless tree with its branches gently forming the shape a skull as it sways with the wind which reflects the deep stirring emotions of a brooding boy. This is a deeply moving piece with intricate details that must have taken the artist a long time to execute.
This is an enchantingly stunning portrait of a beautiful woman with a horrible skull as a hyper extension of her graceful neck. It is surreal and horrifying at the same time. The rest of the additions to this arm piece adhered to its theme of death, from the sparrows to the lifeless tree, then the chess board standing right across a chess piece delivering the brutal news of checkmate. The artist should be applauded for the execution of this masterpiece. It is a perfect visual interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, “The Raven”. His beautiful maiden named Leonore, transformed into a haunting remembrance in the form of a raven named, “Nevermore”.
This twin skull tearing apart the eyes of a woman is harrowingly creepy. This is perfect for the man looking for a horror themed tattoo with the use of biochemical technique. It looks like the skin gave birth to the skulls and the lower portion of the face with the finger details looks organically part of the arm.
This is a fun piece of a skeleton rendered in black ink with added fine lines and dots for details. The stomach cavity is deeply shaded in black to highlight the skeleton who must have found a way out from a fish predator. This arm tattoo looks definitely cool and well-drawn.
This skin modification in high definition and three dimension looks realistically unreal. The skull and its helmet with its engraved gems look like it’s an integral part of the arm. It is indeed a conversation starter and ender, wherever, regardless of the occasion. This skull design embodies a Celtic theme wherein its warriors and celebrated leaders kept their helmet on to preserve their human soul since it is their belief that human soul is in the skull.
An arm tattoo of a modern minimalist skull design combined with geometrical patterns on the upper portion of the skull. The contrast of two distinct styles in one creation is unique and refreshing aesthetically.
This is another take on a stunning realism style of tattooing wherein the viewer’s perception of the skull is organically engraved in the arm. This is a high definition piece wherein the contrast around the essential parts of the skull is highly contoured in black and brought forward with an illusion of an internal glow. The addition of flowers softens the dark theme visually, and when interpreted as a pair its meaning symbolizes life and death, good and evil, or beauty and decay.
This is a realistic, high definition skull tattoo on the masculine arm with the rosary as an added detail. Offering prayer for the dead is a universal belief and visually adds drama and character to this skull piece.
The wolf is regarded as a very powerful creature in native American culture, a symbol of courage, strength and intelligence. This animal is often invoked as a spirit guide even in the afterlife. This arm piece pays tribute to a lone wolf rendered in black ink using fine lines in illustrating the details.
This is a skull done in muted black and gray ink placed on the inner arm of the canvas. The remains of its decayed structure is highly detailed with a hint of playful cartoonish effect on the illustration. The contrast of the darkly contoured areas bring forward bone details of the cheek, nose, eyes and forehead.
The never ending quest of the elusive afterlife. What lies beyond? The powerful, all-knowing and highly intuitive eye, illustrated beautifully taking the viewer further as the artist skillfully takes on the realism technique.
This is a stunning piece of body tattoo which tells us a story of rebirth, the endless cycle of life. The cluster of skulls is illustrated to represent death and decay.
“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Derived from a sculpture of the three wise monkeys on a door of the famous Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikko, Japan by a Japanese artist, Hidaro Jingoro. This artwork is undeniably breathtaking in its interpretation of the theme, execution of the illustration in high definition and taking realism technique to new heights, and the commitment of both the artist and his canvas to taking on this ink work journey is incredible.
The portrait of a death rider lurking on its prey in the middle of the night. This is how this unassuming skulls are styled and stereotyped in the movies, or perhaps illustrated in the print media. Would you actually need an eye gear when you don’t have eyes? If you want to add humor and style into your skull tattoo, this can be added into your shopping cart.
A biomechanical creation of a classic timepiece with its anatomical parts exposed, and made to fit the structure of a skull. This must be a one of kind work of genius, custom made to fit the arm of the canvas.
Skull Tattoo FAQs
Where do you put a skull tattoo?
The placement of the skull tattoo is highly dependent on the preference of the wearer. The customer who wants to get inked usually has a plan in mind with regards to the concept and design plus the size and placement of the tattoo to fit their lifestyle, personality and intent. The latter might pull the most weight when it comes to the placement.
Then here comes the collaborative process with the artist. He/she might make a suggestion in choosing the spot since the quality of the skin plus the slope of the canvas surface are two primary concerns in executing an ink work.
The arm is the runaway winner among the selection we presented for the best spot for placement of the versatile skull tattoo. The arm can take in any size since it’s a fairly large canvas, you can choose a portion where you can share or hide the tat, or the arm can be spot to begin the story of a very large creation.
What does a skull hand tattoo mean?
A skull tattooed on the hands for some may purely be ornamental, for some tattoo artists it is a test of skill and commitment to their craft, and for some others it’s the ultimate test of pushing the boundaries of boldly adding hand tattoos at the same time choosing a dark theme on an area where the pain meter is high.
What does a skull wearing a crown mean?
A trending matching tattoo for couples is the king skull and queen skull. This concept was picked by several celebrity couples, copied by their fans. It’s a fun and witty approach on a serious subject matter. When the skull is often taken for a symbol of death, for these couples a stylized skull can completely be the opposite, and mean a new beginning for the couple.
In a more serious tone, a skull with a crown could mean memorializing the death of a love one who is a head of the family or a leader of a certain organization, or this could be a hero/heroine who happens to be a royalty.
For the movie enthusiasts, it may be the king of the dead from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, who saved the day at the greatest battle in the middle earth. For the Mexicans, a skull with a crown means a symbol of prosperity in the next life.
In general, a man or a woman who has a skull tattoo with a crown can symbolize a thirst for power and ambition. The desire to be more is an intrinsic quality of a human being.
What do skulls and roses symbolize?
There are beautiful contradictions in life which present itself in our daily encounter. Newton formalized this theory in his third law of motion, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The skulls and roses pairing is trailing a similar path: decay and beauty, life and death, and; good and evil. So, if a skull symbolizes the end, then the rose ushers in a new beginning.
Picking them apart, a skull is commonly taken as a symbol of death, danger and destruction. Then, a rose is the ultimate symbol for love, beauty and passion. Such that when their paired off, it can also just be a simple offering of love for the dearly departed. It is a common practice anyway to bring flowers for the dead. Taking these two objects in one single artwork, to permanently modify a portion of the body, it must be for a reason that brings joy, of deeper significance, and stirs inspiration.