Octopus Tattoo Meaning – What Does an Octopus Tattoo Symbolize?
An octopus tattoo idea often symbolizes mystery, curiosity, flexibility, and versatility, although its freakish physical characteristics create amazing aesthetic tattoos as well.
The octopus is a mysterious, fluid sea creature that entertains and instills fear in equal measure, which creates a platform for tattoos involving concepts of duality and unease.
The fluidity of the eight tentacles, fierce fathomless eyes, and elastic body in combination with the unique suckers provides a good tattoo artist the chance to create flowing tattoos, whether a strangling full sleeve or slashing, abstract new wave design in vividly bright color.
The octopus tattoo is a powerful and interesting image that is the ideal fit for a person who is confident, flexible, and has a deep and complex character that others may struggle to decipher.
The article below demonstrates the most common octopus tattoo meanings that you can apply to your own ideas, and serve as inspiration for drilling down on the concept which appeals the most to you.
1. Nature’s Shape-Shifting Sea Creature
As the world’s most celebrated cephalopod, the octopus is nature’s true shape-shifter, squeezing through tight spots with incredible ease.
In biology and tattoo art, an octopus idea is known for communicating dexterity, resourcefulness, multitasking, and curiosity.
With four pairs of arms and stunning symmetry, the octopus can master any task. Often operating in stealth mode, many octopus species can camouflage by altering color and shape.
These striking physical characteristics not only inspire tattoo collectors but provide a wealth of inspiration for incredible body art in just about any shape or size.
2. Mystical Octopus Tattoo Meanings
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 is associated with intuition.
The octopus acts as a totemic guide for those who need the motivation to try new things, stray from their normal paces of life, and to let go of routine and normality occasionally.
3. Octopus Duality Concepts
The octopus can often be used in tattoos depicting duality, with elements of its unique mystery and curiosity often balancing against feelings of unease, fear, and revulsion.
Between the sea monster version of the octopus and its freakish physical characteristics, the octopus is often depicted as a symbol of the unknown.
With its tremendous adaptability, an octopus design can be used in all sorts of different placements and displays that use a contrast of mystery and the macabre against great beauty and interesting aesthetic appeal.
4. The Kraken
The Kraken was an enormous sea monster said to live in the deep, swallowing unwary ships that passed too close to its watery lair. It makes for an awesome, intimidating nautical, and sailor-themed tattoo design.
The octopus is known for its intelligence, flexibility, and for being a powerful predator in the ocean. It can also change shape easily and is renowned for its canny, creative intellect.
The Kraken tattoo is a popular octopus 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.
5. Skull Octopus Tattoo Symbolism
The octopus and the skull are two of the most evocative and mysterious tattoos. The skull symbolizes human intellect and the mystery and finite nature of human life.
An octopus skull tattoo is the ultimate combination of these two striking symbols, usually formed by the skull forming the base of the octopus’s body and the tentacles emerging from the skull.
However, this unique tattoo style can also feature both a full skull and a full octopus, with the octopus sometimes holding the skull, or having its tentacles protrude from the eye socket or mouth.
The octopus and skull tattoo design needs a big canvas to be most impactful and is a wonderful concept for a tattoo lover looking for a large statement piece.
The skull octopus tattoo is often rendered in richly shaded black and gray, with the intricacy and complex detail of the image highlighting concepts of mystery, fear, and unease more than the physical characteristics of the aquatic creature alone.
6. Octopus Symbolism in Japanese Tattoos
The octopus design idea often symbolizes versatility and complexity, with its eight arms and fearsome image making it a popular design for large-scale traditional Japanese tattoo art favored by Yakuza gangsters.
Japanese octopus tattoo ideas use the tentacles to tell that the creature can undertake many tasks at once or have many interests, with the appendages often taking on elements of the waves and the ocean.
Octopi (and squid) are also utilized as sexually charged images that involve aggression, capture, and/or destructive elements and desires (think of the Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, for example).
Contemporary Japanese tattoo art pushes this sexually suggestive idea forward even further with links to Hentai (ridiculous Japanese animated pornography) along with tamer concepts used in more accessible manga and anime collections.
Octopus Tattoo Application Styles and Placement
7. Realistic Octopus Tattoo Meanings
Not all designs require a stylized, oversized, or cartoon octopus depiction; many prefer a realistic aquatic creature and surroundings.
Choosing to get a realistic tattoo design etched with great clarity that mirrors how the octopus totem looks under the water is the current trending type of design choice.
If your tattoo artist can recreate a realistic depiction of a blue-ringed octopus in bright colors, or a technically excellent, well-shaded black and gray piece, it can take your octopus from being merely good to tremendous.
8. American Traditional Octopus Tattoo Meanings
Often an octopus tattoo will symbolize a period of personal growth, one where the wearer was able to narrowly escape a tight spot or change in order to achieve a highly-held goal.
The octopus is strange and beautiful, with a powerful serenity that speaks volumes without saying a word.
While newer, more abstract or updated octopus tattoo designs are popular, the traditional style has a sense of the stoic. They are simpler in following the standard color palette of old-school tattoo art.
Many who choose these American traditional designs do it not because they look cool, but because it represents a tattoo personality that is complicated yet easy-going, possessing a symbolic depth different from more strictly aesthetic designs.
9. Geometric and 3D Octopus Tattoo Designs
Geometric octopus tattoos bring together the natural and scientific realms of thinking, where the beauty in nature is contrasted by science and is examined through exotic angles, lines, and shapes in each image.
A 3D tattoo inked with the right shading and color combinations on your skin tone will make your tattoo art pop, and naturally make the ink look like it’s moving with a life of its own on your limbs, or across your back or chest (my own octopus piece runs from under my armpit down my side).
These mystical octopus tattoo meanings need 3D concepts or elements of geometry to create a feeling of vibrant life, curiosity, and flexibility.
10. Neo-Traditional Octopus Tattoo Designs
The neo-traditional style can help you modernize your octopus tattoo and add a unique, abstract flair, and color to the concept.
Oftentimes, a neo-traditional octopus tattoo can be especially detailed, while a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes makes it more vivid and interesting.
The combined images and symbolism provide a sense of brilliance and beauty that can only exist in the imagination of the tattoo artist.
If you’re looking for an octopus design with unique individuality and pop, a cool neo-traditional piece will stand out.
11. Tribal Octopus Tattoo Designs
In tribal tattoos, the octopus tentacle creates a killer major element in intricate tribal patterns.
The tattoo artist, whether drawing up full octopus tribal tattoos or just using the beastie in parts of designs, can create opportunities for the skin to breathe in between patterns or relief against the other more angular patterns.
No matter what avenue you take, an octopus tattoo idea can be varied and compelling in practically any style.
There is a huge range of complex symbolic concepts that you can apply to make an excellent and unique piece of body art that you will be proud to carry with you forever.
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