Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Next Tattoo

Getting fresh ink can be addictive!  It makes you feel new and it makes people notice!

It usually starts with something small and then you find yourself thinking about your next design.  But tattoos are permanent and it’s not always easy to commit to a design.

Tattoo artists are often asked where they find their inspiration for designs.  It’s one of the most important when deciding on your next piece of ink.  What do I want to tattoo on my body that will mean something? And how can it be something unique that isn’t already on everyone else?

Woman looking for tattoo inspiration ideas

Tattoo Vault has over 50,000 tattoo designs and is known for their high quality design collection.  This makes Tattoo Vault one of the best online resources to find new tattoo inspirational ideas!

Click here to get access to the Tattoo Vault collection!

Let’s look at some of the best ways to find inspiration for your next tattoo!
One concept that can often trip you up is that the tattoo design you choose must be super meaningful.  In reality, your next tattoo doesn’t have to be bright and colorful.  It may be a piece that marries two existing pieces together or an extra detail that was missed in the previous tattoo session.
There is one question that should be answered though… is my tattoo design going to have any meaning?
Before you start to consider your tattoo artist or the tattoo style, start with your primary reason for getting this tattoo.  This should be your primary inspiration.
Whatever is driving you for this new tattoo, pin-point the meaning first and then that may help you choose a specific tattoo style or symbol.

Some Popular Tattoo Styles in 2024

There are many styles of tattoos but there seems to be a few that continually top the charts for most.  A few questions to ask yourself might be: do you want a black and grey tattoo, a portrait tattoo, or maybe some military tattoo flash art?  There are many different styles and it’s important to know some of them before choosing an artist.


Here are 8 popular tattoo styles to get you started:

American Traditional Tattoos

This is also often referred to as the ‘Sailor Jerry’ style. The designs are simple and bold, characterised with thick black or dark grey outlines.  These tattoos usually have very little to no shadings. Popular subjects include military and nautical themes, swallows, hearts, eagles, roses, and pinup girls.

American Traditional Tattoo Inspiration Ideas on man chest
Leopard and Skull American Traditional Tattoo Inspiration Ideas
Knife through Heart with flowers as American Traditional Tattoo Inspiration
American Traditional Skull Bouquette of Flowers

Japanese Tattoos

– this style of tattoo has beautiful iconography, deep symbolism, and a long lasting history. The Irezumi or the traditional Japanese tattoo has been around for centuries. It’s known as the art of decorating the body. The oriental tattoo style is often large and elaborate pieces covering entire arms, torso, legs or back. Common examples include tigers, koi fish, lotus flower, dragons, cherry blossoms, Asian war depiction, snakes and peacocks.

Japanese back piece tattoo
Japanese style tattoo sleeve on arm
Japanese red and black tattoo sleeve on mans arm
Japanese woman warrior tattoo

Tribal Tattoos

this style of tattoo typically features strong Native American influences. Also called the Polynesian style, these designs are often inspired from the ancient tribal markings of the American Indians, Micronesians and Polynesians. Common examples include solid geometric shapes, black colour and symmetrical patterns.

Red and Black Tribal tattoo sleeve on mans arm
Woman tribal back piece tattoo inspiration
Mans chest and arm tribal sleeve idea
Woman tribal chest piece for inspiration

Script Tattoos

– this type of tattoo is very common. It is entirely composed of letterings or script and one bold colour. Elaborate fonts are usually used to help style or help the tattoo fit in the space. Ambigram tattoos – the creative word designing that incorporates two words in one, is a popular type of script tattoo. Names, life maxims, birthdates, and beliefs are popular for script tattoos.

Family First Script tattoo font inspiration
I'm Still Breathing tattoo script letter style
Relentless script tattoo letter style font
Woman script lettering shoulder tattoo

Portrait Tattoos

– this tattoo style features imagery of people or a person. This is a very specialised style because it requires the skill and talent of an accomplished tattoo artist. Successfully transcribing someone’s face or body require intricate work and talent. Usual subjects include popular movie personalities, one’s spouse or child, and often pets.

Woman and Skull Portrait tattoo inspiration
Woman portrait tattoo sleeve inspiration
Realistic child portrait tattoo
Child in mouth of lion portrait tattoo

Black and Grey Tattoos

– this style of tattoo is the greyscale equivalent of realistic tattoos. Inks used are black, white, and watered down black to different shades of grey. This style captures the essence of its subjects – portraits, guns, birds, skulls, knives, women, and religious figures.

Black and grey of woman on tattoo sleeve
Black and grey tattoo sleeve on woman
Black and grey chest tattoo piece
Black and grey jesus shoulder tattoo

Biomechanical Tattoos

– this style of tattoo has eye-catching and shocking factor details. Designs are often the combination of mechanical aspects intertwined with muscles and other biological parts relevant to the area, often in 3-D renderings. Robotics and cyborgs are the general themes with vivid colors, detailed designs, and advanced shadings.

Woman with biomechanical shouldler tattoo
Woman with biomechanical full sleeve tattoo
Man full arm biomechanical tattoo sleeve
Man forearm biomechanical tattoo


– this tattoo style requires the advanced skills of an experienced and talented tattoo artist. Realistic tattoos are colourful, detailed, and are often based on landscape, life scenes or a photograph. They incorporate fine lines, intricate shadings and realistic colorings that are prominent characteristics of this tattoo style.

realistic rhinosaurus tattoo on mans inner upper arm
Realistic eye tattoo on mans hand
Realistic old fashioned pocket watch on mans shoulder tattoo
Woman eye tattoo on back of arm

Tattoo Style, Size, and Placement

This an be difficult when considering a new tattoo but the size and placement will be one of the first questions from the tattoo artist.

The tattoo size and placement are key details that may be more important than you think. These details can actually play a big part into the design intricacy, number of sessions, and even pain control techniques.

That’s right, don’t forget that there can be some intense pain during the tattoo session and the location of the tattoo plays a big part with the level of pain. 

Insert Personal Interests into Your New Tattoo

Consider some of your favorite movies, video games, brands, or books as minor details within the tattoo design. Do you have a favorite comic book or marvel character? What about an inside secret that only you and a few others know about? These are perfect little add-ons that can help keep your tattoo unique.

Finding Tattoo Inspiration on Social Media

Everyone seems to have their own opinion about social media but many artists use one of the social networks to display their latest work. Some tattoo artists will post their tattoo flash designs which can also help inspire new ideas.

It’s ok if you find a piece of art or a tattoo from another artist but some form of change should be made to it before any ink is actually applied. Most artists will make a difference in the design so that the tattoo doesn’t completely match the work from another tattoo artist in respect to the other artist.

Consultation with Your Tattoo Artist

When you have your designs picked out and you’re ready for that next step, print out all the tattoo designs or have them easily viewable on your device. Most artists like to have a paper printout so they can reference it as they draw up their concept.

Once you’re ready, most tattoo artists will schedule a time when you can meet them and look over all the tattoo inspirations that have been collected. This is when you get to see all your hard work pay off in what hopefully turns out as the design for your new tattoo.

Consultation with your tattoo artist

Wrapping Up Your Tattoo Inspiration Process

There are many options to draw inspiration for your next tattoo. Don’t rush this process. Tattoos are fun and should last forever! It’s often a good idea to hold onto your tattoo ideas for 7 days before getting the tattoo to make sure you don’t change your mind.

Start your tattoo inspiration process by getting complete access from Tattoo Vault’s design and print collection.  This is one of many incredible resources to find high quality inspirtation for your next tattoo!  Tattoo Vault has one of the largest online collections of tattoo resources that includes tattoo flash, prints, letter-styles, books, and more.  Don’t let finding your tattoo inspiration take hours when Tattoo Vault has all the best designs organized into 60 of the most requested tattoo categories.  Click here to learn more.