Classic Tattoo Ideas with Meaning for Guys

Getting tattooed is something that more people than ever before are doing now. One reason why so many people choose to have their bodies inked is that a tattoo can let them make a personal statement about their lives or interests for everyone to see whether it’s specific celebrity tattoos like Rihanna tattoo trends or more.

That is possible because even classic tattoo ideas can be given a personal twist at the design stage. Another reason why you might decide to add many aesthetic tattoo trends to your arm or some other part of your body is just that you like the imagery enough to want it as a permanent feature.

Here are some of the go-to tattoo ideas for men and what they mean to people who have them.

1. Old School

This is the style that most people not familiar with the world of body inking think of when they hear the word ‘tattoo.’ It is the sort of body art that men often had back in the 1940s and 1950s – especially if they were in the army or navy and traveling around.

Old school tattoos often feature the faces and figures of women with bold black outlines and usually a pretty limited color scheme. This is dominated by reds, blacks, and grays.

The pin-up girl will usually be named and there might be other images involved, such as roses or snakes, dagger tattoo trends have proven to be popular.

Old School Tattoo

Guys serving in the military often got these kinds of tattoos because they were away from women for long spells and wanted to remind themselves of what they were missing.

These days, the style is still a really big draw, as women never go out of fashion, and it can symbolize an attraction to retro-cool.

2. Personal Objects

Sometimes a tattoo is chosen as much for the personal significance of the object that is featured as for the artwork. Having that tattoo is about showing how much you love or identify with the thing.

Sports team badges are a really common example of this, but far from being the only one. Poker fans also often like to get this kind of tattoo.

Among the classic, poker tattoo trends are ones depicting awesome poker hands – like a royal flush – and ones showing the chips used to gamble with.

Gambling tattoos with playing cards and dice on them are also popular with guys who love western imagery because the two are closely linked. This kind of tattoo is a way of showing off your passions to the world, whether it is betting or movies.

3. Portraiture

These tattoos show the face of a particular person and involve a huge amount of detailed work by the tattoo artist. They avoid the thick black lines of old-school inking to capture the chosen portrait with careful depth and shading.

Rock stars and actors are frequent choices for portraiture tattoos – especially dead stars that have cult reputations like Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, or James Dean. They are depicted in either color or black and grey work depending on what the customer prefers.

It is not always famous figures that are featured though, as some guys get a tattoo of their wife or girlfriend’s face.

4. Japanese Culture

There are really two different types of tattoos that can be classed in Japanese culture, so we will look at them separately.

  • Traditional Japanese imagery

These kinds of Japan-inspired tattoos use images that are drawn from that country’s traditions and folklore. Among the things that are often featured in this style of Japanese tattoo are flowers, mythical tattoos including creatures like dragon tattoo trends and Japanese women in traditional dress are strongly popular.

They can be a way of showing an affinity for its culture among westerners but also appeal because the bold coloring and detailing are aesthetic.

  • Pop Japanese imagery

These are tattoos inspired by the anime cartoons that come out of Japan and feature characters taken from them. Again this is about a love of Japanese culture, but popular rather than traditional culture, and they are big with younger guys.

5. Tribal/Blackwork

Tribal Tattoos

Classic forms of tribal tattooing that you will often see include Native American and Polynesian designs. They are usually very detailed and intricate patterning, rather than showing faces or objects, and are often chosen to signal allegiance to that tribe.

One thing that they have in common is that they generally involve only black ink. However, blackwork tattoos do not have to be tribal designs.

Eye-catching but straightforward images of skulls and snakes in black are classic tattoos for men that never go out of style.

6. Realistic Trash Polka

Developed by the Buena Vista Tattoo Club in Germany, this is one of the most creative classic types of tattoo. It takes the blend of realism, trash, and blackwork art styles of the original Trash Polka look and adds color and collaging to the mix.

Realistic trash polka inking puts together everything from images of people and objects with logos, symbols, and text to create complex imagery. It looks incredibly stylish and original though – like having a piece of pop art on your arm or your back.

Tattoo styles sometimes change and develop over time, for example, realistic trash polka is a spin-off from original trash polka design work. The classic styles for men are not really things that go out of date though; they just get a creative twist every now and then.