Ornamental Tattoos: Popularity, History, and Design Ideas

Ornamental tattoos often have cultural and spiritual meanings, and their designs have a rich history that extends thousands of years. 

By understanding the meaning behind these tattoos, tattoo artists can appreciate and build from the cultural richness they represent.

In this article, we’ll break down:

  • What ornamental designs mean
  • The history of the ornamental style
  • Design ideas for ornamental tattoos

What are Ornamental Style Tattoos?

fine lines tattoo design

The ornamental tattoo style is defined by decorative patterns, fine lines, symmetry, and geometric figures. 

Ornamental art has origins in the Roman empire and can be seen in the intricate design work of Roman architecture, as well as in the extremely detailed paintings of artwork like the Sistine Chapel.

Oftentimes, tattooing imitates wood carvings, using images like animals, flowers, crosses, and intricate combinations of shapes.

History and Meaning of Ornamental Tattoo Designs

tattoo design from ancient times
  • Remembrance

Some people use the style to commemorate a special event or to keep the memory of a loved one alive.

  • Social Status
example of ornamental tattoo designs

In some cultures, such as those of the Pacific Islands, the patterns in their tattoos were seen as a sign of social status and belonging, and they were done with great care and attention to detail.

  • Religious Beliefs

Ancient Egyptians used these designs to express religious beliefs. They were also used in Japan to represent courage, strength, and protection. 

Other societies believed tattoos in this style offered special protection or a connection to nature.

  • Personal Style

In the 1700s, ornamental designs began to become more popular in Europe. They were used to show off wealth and status, as well as to express personal beliefs. 

As tattooing has evolved, ornamental designs are now commonly used as art pieces to show off someone’s personal style.

Creating Ornamental Tattoo Designs

large patterns tattooed on the body

While some clients will want small ornamental tattoos, many will want full sleeves or large portions of their back covered almost like clothing. 

When designing an ornamental piece with a client, it’s important to keep in mind the rich cultural history of the style, as well as any religious or spiritual meaning the client wants to evoke.

  • Ornamental Tattoo Design Inspiration Gallery  
black filigree tattoo
mandala tattoo for women

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

Learning to create ornamental tattoos is an important step in your journey, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straightforward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need to build your skills and create incredible tattoos. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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