26 Badass Skull Tattoo Designs And Their Meanings – 2019

by Harini Natarajan

Skulls are generally considered as a sign of death. But people who sport skull tattoos see them as symbols of a cycle of life. They are reminders of change and an indication that time is fleeting.

In many religions, the sign of the skull is seen as a sign of eternity. Some see it as representing rebirth or recognition that all things must pass. For many tribal people, skull tattoos are significant to their ways of life. Pirates have used skull insignias and tattoos as signs of rebellion. In Mexico, during the ‘Day of the Dead,’ sugar skulls are made to commemorate and respect the lives of those in the past. For the Celts, skulls were the seat of the soul, creating and recreating life. In this way, in so many old and new cultures, skulls symbolize a great deal more than death.

Most people have them in all shapes and styles. Here are some of the most amazing skull tattoo designs.

26 Memorable Skull Tattoos And Their Meanings

Depending on how they are portrayed, skull tattoos convey a variety of meanings. They can suggest duality, rebelliousness, independence, even stand-out femininity. Skull tattoos are not always associated with dying and gloominess. They can be quirky, they can be edgy, and they can even be a lot of fun. Here are some of the most popular styles, along with their significance.

1. Sugar Skull Tattoos

skullobsessedstore / Instagram

Sugar skulls have been a part of Mexico’s ‘Day of the Dead’ celebrations for a long time. They are a way of remembering and commemorating those who have passed away. Typically, sugar skull tattoos are bright and ornate. Such decorations make the skulls less scary to look at, and thus, they are a reminder that those you care about are at peace. Sometimes, the names of these people are added to the forehead of the skull.

2. Skull Head Tattoos

tremblottetattoo / Instagram

These don’t just signify the end of life. They can be a way of warding off evil spirits and even a celebration of life. It can serve as a reminder that life is passing, and the present moment is all we have. After all, death is inevitable and comes for all. The skull can also mean a symbol of a life that is precious. It can also refer to mental power, which creates a cycle of life.

3. Skull Tattoos For Men And Women

Skull tattoos have been popular among both men and women for ages. Some feel that such a tattoo marks the wearer as one who has accepted mortality and the temporary status of life. This is not traditionally masculine or feminine, but an attitude of mind. They are made in various sizes and customized individually.

4. Skull Sleeve Tattoos

These tattoos extend down the arms, and because of the larger area, they can have many interpretations and designs. They could be in black or color and could feature one skull or several. Many feature bones as well. Others are personalized with words and phrases.

5. Skull And Crossbones Tattoos

hollyswantattoos / Instagram

These are often referred to as ‘Jolly Roger’ tattoos. This design used to appear on the flags of pirate ships. It is commonly associated with rebellion and a refusal to conform to authority. It can also indicate danger. These symbols are usually found on high-electricity installations and bottles of poison. The recent influx of pirate movies has made these tattoos very popular.

6. Cool Skull Tattoo On The Hand

______sabah_______ / Instagram

These skull tattoos can be small to cover just a part of the hand, or large to cover the entire hand and sometimes, even the fingers. Depending on the area these tattoos cover, they could be more abstract than realistic. Typically, these are in shades of black and gray.

7. Intriguing Skull Tattoos

cecilinkull / Instagram

As skull tattoos are open to interpretation, many have experimented with their shapes and forms. Such intriguing skull tattoos often have slogans and messages that have an individual meaning for the wearer. They are customized, mysterious, and often irresistible.

8. Large Black And White Skull Tattoos

_tattoo_obsession_ / Instagram

These are bold, brave designs that signal to the world that the person isn’t afraid to break convention. They need to be done on larger areas of the body, such as the chest or the back. Sometimes, people have such tattoos on more unusual parts, such as across an entire thigh. They can be dramatic and intimidating.

9. Black And White Look From The Hood

pr_tattoo_brest / Instagram

‘The hood’ is typically an urban ghetto. This is where some of the most radical trends in fashion and lifestyle are born. Many styles that are common today came from the hoods in cities. The symbols of the underground have vivid and startling power. Black and white skull tattoos from the hood are more unconventional and in-your-face. They can be scary, they can be sinister, and they can say, “don’t mess with me.”

10. Extreme Skull Tattoos

You are big, you are bold, and you don’t care who knows it. You are willing to go through a lot to get just the right tattoo, and you want it to show. You are a person who is audacious and daring. You go to extremes, and your skull tattoo does, too.

11. Día de Los Muertos Tattoos

littlebuddyink / Instagram

Dia De Los Muertos is the name of the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead,’ a major celebration of the country. It is when loved ones who depart are honored and remembered. Flowers, photographs, and favorite foods mark the occasion, along with much festivity. An essential part of this is the sugar skulls on display. When you get yourself a sugar skull tattoo, you are respecting the lives of ancestors and those from your past to whom you owe so much.

12. Romantic Skull Tattoos

kevinhintontattoo / Instagram

Skull tattoos can be mysterious, they can be scary, and they can also be romantic. If love is on your mind, feel free to dress up this sort of skull tattoo with your favorite colors, roses, and other decorations. Perhaps you could even include a romantic message that holds a special meaning for you.

13. Skull Tattoos for Couples

ruda.tattoo / Instagram

Couples can have a great bonding experience with matching tattoos. When they go through this ritual of choosing a design and getting inked together, it draws them even closer than before. Very often, the themes of such matching skull tattoos are love and togetherness forever. When your skull tattoos complement each other, it shows that your devotion is deep indeed.

14. Badass Skull Tattoos

Many people feel that there’s nothing more badass than a large, visible skull tattoo. Make it stand out even more by experimenting and adding dramatic elements – flames, 3D effects, and snakes, for example. Don’t be afraid to show the world what you really think.

15. Funny Skull Tattoos

george_labrada / Instagram

Skulls are seen as macabre and deathly, but you can also make a statement that’s humorous with a skull. This can be done in the form of a laughing skull, for example, as a way of mocking death, or you could think of a humorous slogan that adorns the skull. It could even be in an unusual or strange shape that makes people want to look again. In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet looks at his jester’s skull and says that he was a fellow of ‘infinite jest.’ Thus, this sort of skull can also symbolize life’s absurdity.

16. Picturesque Skull Tattoos

jimbo_lifeanddeath / Instagram

Skull tattoos don’t have to be grim and menacing. You can choose a design that’s picturesque, too. Dress it up with ribbons, flowers, and colors. Experiment with shapes, sizes, and patterns. Make it eye-catching and fun. Either way, you’ll have a tattoo that others won’t be able to miss or match.

17. Eye-catching Skull Tattoos

tattoostu / Instagram

For an eye-catching skull tattoo, you can play with shapes. How would a skull look when it’s a triangle, for example? Or can you make a pattern of skulls? What about a striking background? The possibilities are endless.

18. Tribal Skull Tattoos

joe_tattooz / Instagram

Tribal skull tattoos are a way of taking a traditional theme and making it modern and individual. There are many ancient tribes that use tattoos for rituals and ceremonies. You could adapt one of these looks for your needs. Choose one from a tribe known for its ancient wisdom or one that will make heads turn.

19. Girly Skull Tattoos

artandlifebybeck / Instagram

As we’ve seen, skull tattoos are infinitely versatile. You can even portray a feminine vibe with an appropriate design. These are smaller than average. Often, they show flowers and hearts. These are also colorful and can feature bows, hearts, and ribbons.

20. Demonic Skull Tattoos

plaza1330 / Instagram

These will give you a devilish look, no matter what the occasion. They are meant to be exhibited with flair. It could look goth, it could be inspired by the occult, or it could be quietly menacing. These designs are generally starker and in black and white.

21. Colorful Skull Tattoos

A dash of color can add flair to a boring skull tattoo. These tattoos don’t have to be about gloom and doom. Make them pop with vibrant, contrasting colors. The background can be eye-catching and vivid. Such tattoos will never go unnoticed, whichever part of the body you get them done on.

22. Flowery Skull Tattoos

chrismorillotattoo / Instagram

Skull tattoos that show both the skull and flowers symbolize a distinction between life and death. Other dualities can be expressed too, such as between growth and decay. If you find these philosophies and ways of thinking are inspiring, you should definitely look at a skull tattoo that’s decorated with flowers for a unique effect.

23. Cartoon Skull Tattoos

calamartattoo / Instagram

These skull tattoos are in a lighter vein and show that life and even death do not have to be taken all that seriously. These can be realistic or simple and abstract. A grinning cartoon skull can show to the world that your personality is deep but not grim.

24. Half Sleeve Skull Tattoos

These are perfect for showing off, especially if you have biceps. A half sleeve tattoo covers the upper arm and extends up to the shoulder. You can choose to display it or not as the occasion demands. It all depends on your choice of clothing.

25. Trash Polka Skull Tattoos

endless_tattoo_bz / Instagram

This is an artistic style originally created in Germany. It takes the traditional treatment and mixes it up to create a unique collage. Many times, letters and calligraphy are also added. Black and red smudges and smears are also common. Unleash the free thinker in you with these designs.

26. Scary Skull Tattoos

sowa78 / Instagram

These can be serious reminders of life’s passing. For many, the message is to live every day as we do not know what tomorrow will bring. Such skull tattoos are grim and stark, often with just black and gray. They convey an important message of purpose. They show that the person is not to be messed with.

Many celebrities, from actors to singers, have striking and unforgettable skull tattoos. It is clear that such tattoos have a very special appeal. They always have been, and always will be, a great choice.

Why Are Skull Tattoos So Popular?

Skull tattoos have been trending for a very long time. People have used them to show that they are cool, daring, fearless, and much more.

Skull tattoos can be incorporated in a variety of designs and have a ton of interpretations. There will always be people who choose them to show their individuality. Sugar skull tattoos, skull sleeve tattoos, feminine tattoos, tribal skull tattoos, skull and crossbones tattoos – all of these show different facets of people and their attitudes.

Men and women alike have worn skull tattoos with pride. They can be combined with quotations, flowers, hearts, and come in different backgrounds, too. It is because of this personalization that skull tattoos have been admired.

Which Part Of The Body Is Best For A Skull Tattoo?

With a skull tattoo, there isn’t a specific body part that suits it best. It depends on the size and design of the tattoo. The possibilities can be endless.

People have larger ones on their biceps or legs. Others, even larger, can be seen on the chest or the back. On the other hand, some women prefer small ones on their wrists. Even the back of the hand can have a small tattoo.

The best thing to do if you are thinking of getting a skull tattoo is to be clear about the design and meaning. From this will emerge the size of the tattoo, and then you could decide which part of the body suits it best.

When getting a skull tattoo done, it makes sense to go to a professional and knowledgeable tattooist. Such people are experienced in a variety of styles, and very often, if you discuss your ideas with them, they can point to the right ways to bring them to life. They may also be able to show you which parts of the body are best suited for which designs. Here are some precautions you need to take before and after getting a skull tattoo.

There’s no need to go by the rules. Remember, skull tattoos have the reputation of being rebellious and fun! Which of these designs did you like? Share your views with us in the comments section below.

Recommended Articles:

Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.

Harini Natarajan

As Chief Editor, Harini sets the tone and editorial direction for StyleCraze to deliver engaging, interesting, and authentic content revolving around women's health, wellness, and beauty. She has over 14 years of experience in content writing and editing for online media. She specializes in the areas of Beauty, Lifestyle, and Health & Wellness and is proficient in Medical Sciences (Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Biochemistry). Her background in Biomedical Engineering helps her decode and interpret the finer nuances of scientific research for her team. Harini is a certified bibliophile and a closet poet. She also loves dancing and traveling to offbeat destinations.
scorecardresearch