A family understands each other, teaches, guides, and shows each other love and support. Whether it's the family you were born into or the family you choose (awww), tattoos are a unique way to honor those you love. Whether you select something simple, like an anchor or heart, or a more ornate design such as a family tree or crest, there are many designs that can turn your familial bond into a permanent piece of art.
Family Tattoos: The Meaning Behind The Art
Tattoos are permanent pieces of artwork that are skillfully designed to express both individuality and togetherness at the same time. When it comes to family tattoos, these are a way to express your love, devotion, and to honor special relationships in your life. Family offers support and strength, so why not honor the ones we love (or are stuck with… ) with a piece of timeless art? Here are ten family tattoo ideas to consider before making your final decision.
#1: Minimalistic Tattoos
Are you a fan of minimalism in your everyday life? Tattoos are no exception. Simple designs such as hearts, stars, and arrows are meaningful yet straightforward ideas. Familial love doesn’t have to be complex, and neither does your family tattoo! This type of design is something that siblings and partners alike can share. Sisters may want to choose a design that demonstrates girl power (or mocks the patriarchy—whatever floats your boat), while partners may select a link or chain to show their commitment (we love to see it!). Whether it's a single word, such as “family” in the family’s native language, or a figure of meaning, such as a flower or interlocked pinkies, choosing something everyone loves is important. All family members must agree on the design so that no one has future tattoo regret.
#2: Handwritten Tattoos
Make a simple design unique with the handwriting of your loved one. Have your loved one write a phrase such as “family over everything” or “love makes a family” and use the written phrase as the tattoo template. It is also a popular tattoo for those who want to remember a loved one's writing at a certain age, like a child’s handwritten name. Time flies, but tattoos are forever. Handwritten tattoos are also popular for those who want to honor a family member who has passed away.
#3: Ornate Family Tattoos
So, we already talked about minimalism. But what about maximalism? Not to fear—plenty of tattoos can satisfy even the most picky maximalists! Ornate tattoos involve attention to detail and are often larger than minimal, simplistic tattoos. Various colors are usually involved in the design as well as multiple shading techniques and detail to tie the masterpiece together.
Family Tree Tattoo
Trees represent life, growth, wisdom, and prosperity, with each species symbolizing something different. So, it's no wonder why the family tree is a popular tattoo option for many families. There are several options for family tree tattoos, with the most common being a tree with various family members’ names depicted as the branches. Choose a tree species with symbolism that matches your family’s traits.
- The willow tree represents hope and safety.
- Birch trees stand for new beginnings, hope, and protection.
- Oak trees are a symbol of strength, knowledge, and morale.
Family Coat of Arms Tattoo
A coat of arms identifies families or individuals and their achievements within their family heritage. It is very detailed and contains many elements depicting the family’s accomplishments. A coat of arms has many features, a few being:
Some families choose a coat of arms based on their last name, while others create their coat of arms. Whichever you decide, a coat of arms makes a special and unique tattoo for families to share.
Family Crest Tattoo
A family crest is a part of a coat of arms that lies at the top or even outside of the coat of arms design. The crest is used on its own when the coat of arms is too complex, although the entire coat of arms structure is often called the crest. The crest is usually an animal, but can sometimes be a symbol that sort of envelopes the entire coat of arms. These are a few of the many examples of family crests:
Each animal makes beautifully intricate tattoo designs. To locate your family crest or coat of arms, determine what you already know about your family, such as your last name’s origin. Then, find the associated symbols. Family crests make distinctive tattoos that are unique!
#4: Symbol Tattoos
Many families have a particular symbol that represents their family—and no, we aren’t talking about the good ol’ heart (though you can choose a heart tattoo, and we’ll talk more about that later). Celtic knots, eternal knots, the trinity symbol, and the infinity symbol are examples. Each represents life, love, connection, a father, a mother, a child, and siblings, among other things. Symbols are a unique way to represent your family with permanent ink and rich symbolism. Here are a few more ideas:
- Wolf - Symbolizes family and loyalty.
- Bear - Symbolizes protection and strength.
- Lion - Symbolizes strength, protection, and loyalty.
- Elephant - Symbolizes strength and good fortune (because we could all use a little luck)
#5: Traditional Tattoos
Traditional tattoos use a heavy outline and a limited color palette. Anchors, daggers, skulls, and banners are examples of traditional tattoos. You cannot go wrong with a classic traditional family tattoo with colors such as black, blue, red, yellow, and green. Tattoo the word “family” in a traditional style banner or on an anchor or a heart for a classic tattoo style.
#6: Tattoos in Other Languages
If you and your family all speak another language, it can be really meaningful to tattoo a saying or even a word in your native tongue. Familia (“family” in Spanish) or pagkakaisa (“togetherness” in Tagalog) are just two examples of beautiful words that can incorporate your culture and background into a tattoo that is even more unique to you and your loved ones.
#7: Tribal Tattoos
Tribal tattoos are another cultural tattoo that can be open to a huge variety of designs. Many tribal pieces are symbolic and show off heritage and familial achievements or journeys. Tribal designs acknowledge where a person comes from, so you should do research beforehand to ensure you represent your family well, without being offensive or viewed as cultural misappropriation.
#8: Portrait/Photorealism Tattoos
Honor your loved ones by turning their portrait into a tattoo. This type of tattoo serves as an expression of your close bond to this family member or as a reminder of the past. Many techniques are used to create portrait tattoos, with the more realistic photorealism approach being the most popular. Portrait tattoos are beautiful reminders of your loved ones and the story you shared. Trust us on this one — choose your artist wisely for portrait tattoos. This design type is not (emphasis on not) for beginners, so choose an experienced and skilled artist who brings the portrait to life — their portfolio will say it all!
Family Silhouette Tattoos
Silhouette tattoos often fall under the photorealism category for their realistic approach to remembering loved ones. The silhouette of family members walking alongside the beach, in a park, or sitting under trees often adds a personal touch alongside the detailed artwork. Photographs are recreated with permanent ink to create these intricate cherished memories.
Hands and Feet Family Tattoos
Many families choose to have a copy of their baby’s hands or feet turned into tattoo art (let’s be real here, they do grow up too fast). The use of grayscale, shading, and flat black are prominently used in this type of tattoo. Add the baby’s date of birth, name, or timestamp to create a striking and unique tattoo design.
#9: Family Flower Tattoos
Flowers are one of the most popular tattoo designs for everyone. Choose a flower that represents your family best and use family member names as the stems of the flowers. A few examples are:
- Gladiolus - Symbolizes strength and integrity
- Freesia - Symbolizes friendship and trust
- Pink rose - Symbolizes grace, happiness, and gentleness
- Lotus - Symbolizes enlightenment and purity
- Edelweiss - Symbolizes courage and devotion
#10: Family Heart Tattoos
Like we said earlier, you can choose a heart for your family tattoo! Hearts stand for love and devotion, and they are also meaningful and straightforward. Hearts are combined with flowers, words, and butterflies to add a personalized touch. Try a watercolor heart or add the word “family” inside of a heart — anything goes with this simple yet meaningful design.
The Final Touch
The word “family” doesn’t always mean those who are blood-related; it’s the people you choose and those who choose you in their life — these people love you and support you, no matter the circumstances. Family is made of the people you honor with beautiful tattoo artwork that you are proud to wear. If you’re having a hard time convincing your dad or auntie to sit for a session, let them know that getting a tattoo doesn’t have to be painful. With HUSH tattoo numbing and aftercare products, you can all focus on the meaning of the experience instead of trying not to squirm. Our tattoo numbing collection preps and supports the skin for a pain-free tattoo experience the whole family can enjoy regardless of the tattoo design, size, or placement, so start up that family group chat and get to planning your family tattoo! Sources: The symbolism behind trees: what do they mean to you? | CGTN Symbolism of the Birch Tree | Symbol Sage A Beginner's Guide to Understanding a Coat of Arms | Visual.ly Where Can I Find My Family Crest? | LoveToKnow Nationality of Surnames | LoveToKnow Top 71 Family Tattoo Ideas | Net Luxury Why Does the Heart Shape Symbolize Love? | HISTORY