350+ First Tattoo Ideas For Men That Aren’t A Joke

Last update: November 24, 2023

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Tattoos have become a popular means of self-expression for men in modern times, showcasing their unique perspectives and beliefs. For those new to the tattoo world, selecting the right first tattoo idea can be daunting. Our comprehensive guide is here to help, offering valuable insights and inspiration for men's tattoo ideas. From first-timer concepts to tattoos for men, we've got you covered with useful tips for a rewarding tattoo experience.

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Beginner's Guide to First Tattoo Ideas for Men

You might feel a little overwhelmed deciding on your first tattoo regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. There are so many options, and knowing where to start is tough. But don't worry, we'll give you some ideas for the first tattoos for men and their meanings. When you're done reading, you'll better understand what kind of tattoo is right for you. 

Let's start with the first steps you need to take to get your first tattoo:

Step 1: Determine the Type of Tattoo You Desire

To discover the perfect tattoo, begin by considering the kind of design you're seeking. Reflect on factors such as size, style, and meaning. Are you drawn to small tattoo ideas for men or larger pieces? Do you prefer specific styles like tribal or geometric designs? What significance do you want your tattoo to convey? Answering these questions will help you narrow down your options and lead you closer to the ideal design.

Step 2: Explore Online Tattoo Design Services

Before visiting a tattoo artist, consider using online tattoo design services like those available on tattoochronic.com. These services offer a wide range of mens tattoo ideas as fully customized designs. Take advantage of these resources to visualize and customize your chosen design, ensuring it meets your exact specifications before committing to the final product.

Step 4: Ask for Recommendations

In addition to conducting your research, don't hesitate to seek recommendations from friends, family, or coworkers who have tattoos. They may be able to suggest reputable artists in your area. Personal recommendations are an excellent way to find trustworthy tattoo artists.

Step 5: Schedule Your Appointment

After finding the perfect artist, schedule your appointment. Be prepared to pay a deposit upfront when booking your session. Once everything is confirmed, all you have to do is show up on the day of your appointment and get inked!

Find your first tattoo idea for men in 5 easy steps

Summarizing all the steps from above and finalizing a tattoo idea is a great exercise to start with. Here is how you do it:

1. Think about what represents you and try to shortlist some ideas

For example, men are born leaders who love to show their strength and power, so a common representation of that is an animal tattoo, like the lion, the king of the jungle.

lion tattoo men

2. Find a tattoo style that you like

After you go with the lion theme, our example from above, you need to decide on a tattoo style. Because let's say you have a background in geometry and maybe you are an engineer; you'll choose the geometric tattoo style from below:

geometric style tattoo

3. Decide on the placement of the tattoo

You already got the idea and the style; now you need to decide on the placement. Because you want it to be semi-visible, you choose your calf like the example below. This way, you only show it when wearing shorts in your free time, so you won't have to show it at serious, work-related events.

calf tattoo for men

4. Consider the size of the tattoo

The size of the tattoo is also important. If it's too small, some details get lost, and if it's too big, it might be too painful or expensive, and you want none of that for your first tattoo. So you choose a middle-sized tattoo or a geometric lion on the better part of your calf. You can't go wrong with that!

5. Choose between color or black and white

We're on the home stretch here! We only need to decide if we will use color or leave it black & white. Because the tattoo idea is based on strength and power, we'll go with a classic black and white tattoo. They are more timeless and versatile and can be easily covered up if needed later on.

So there you have it! A geometric-style, middle-sized lion tattoo in black and white on the better part of your calf.

Your awesome tattoo idea in 5 easy steps is completed and now you can check below  how it would look:

geometric lion calf tattoo for men

Of course, the exercise from above is just an example of how it can be done. We know that the real process of choosing a tattoo idea in real life is much more complicated, but writing all these things down and getting organized is the first step you can take towards getting your perfect tattoo!

How to find tattoo ideas for men with meaning?

There are many ways to come up with meaningful tattoo ideas for men. The most important thing is to ensure that the idea is something you'll be happy with for years to come.

Here are some tips:

1. Shortlist mens tattoo ideas using stuff that you like or what defines you

2. Find a tattoo style that you like

3. Decide the placement of the tattoo

4. Figure out how big you want the tattoo to be

5. Is it going to have colors or just black & white?

How to Shortlist your first tattoo ideas for men

There are thousands of good first tattoo ideas for guys, but not all are a good fit for you. To try and shortlist these ideas, you must focus on things that represent you. Below there's a list idea you could use to shortlist your tattoo idea to a manageable figure:

1. A tattoo that represents your hobbies or interests.

2. A tattoo that represents your family or friends.

3. A tattoo that represents your favorite animal or pet.

4. A tattoo that represents your favorite thing.

5. A tattoo that represents your job or career.

6. A tattoo that represents your religion or beliefs.

7. A tattoo that represents your country or culture.

8. A tattoo that is unique and personal to you.

9. A tattoo that is meaningful and has a story behind it.

Most popular first tattoo ideas for men and their meanings

When it comes to the most popular men tattoo ideas, animal tattoos, geometric tattoos, tribal tattoos, and skull tattoos top the list. However, there are many other popular options to consider such as portrait tattoos, owl tattoos, Celtic tattoos, wolf tattoos, crown tattoos, feather tattoos, flower tattoos, snake tattoos, angel tattoos, bird tattoos, chest tattoos, 3D tattoos, American flag tattoos, tree tattoos, black lines, clock tattoos, fish tattoos, money tattoos, music tattoos, arrow tattoos, Christian tattoos, cloud tattoos, and Chinese culture inspired designs.

Men often choose animal tattoos to symbolize strength, power, and courage. Geometric tattoos represent balance, harmony, and unity while tribal tattoos connect with culture or heritage. Skull tattoos convey themes of death, mortality, and danger. The arm, chest, back, and shoulder are the most popular placements for tattoos among men. Popular tattoo styles for men include black and white, dotwork, geometric, neotraditional, and traditional. Color choices vary widely depending on the design, from simple 1-2 color tattoos to full rainbow styles.

We have compiled a list below of the best tattoo ideas for men for you to get inspired from:

Cross Tattoo for Men

The cross is the most popular tattoo design in the world and is also one of the most versatile. It can be small and discreet or big and bold. The meaning of the cross depends on the individual, but it is often seen as a symbol of faith, hope, or love.

Cross Tattoo for Men

Tribal Tattoo for Men

Tribal designs are trendy among men. They are often seen as symbols of strength and courage. The meaning of a tribal tattoo depends on the specific plan, but they often represent protection, power, or wisdom. 

Tribal Tattoo for Men

Eagle Tattoo for Men 

The eagle is a popular choice for men's tattoos because it symbolizes power and strength. Eagles are often associated with freedom and liberty. 

Eagle Tattoo for Men

Skull Tattoo for Men 

The skull is another popular choice for men's tattoos. It is often seen as a symbol of death or danger but can also represent rebellion or defiance. 

Skull Tattoo for Men

Dragon Tattoo for Men 

Dragon tattoos are trendy among Asian cultures but are also becoming increasingly popular in the Western world. Dragons are seen as powerful and mystical creatures. They can represent strength, courage, or wisdom. 

Dragon Tattoo for Men

Anchor Tattoo for Men

The anchor is a popular choice for sailors or anyone who loves the sea or just plain old ships. It is seen as a symbol of stability and security. Anchors can also represent hope or strength in difficult times. 

Anchor Tattoo for Men

Celtic Knot Tattoo for Men 

Celtic knots are trendy among those of Irish descent. They are often seen as symbols of eternal love or friendship. Celtic knots can also represent protection or good luck

Celtic Knot Tattoo for Men

Lion Tattoo for Men 

The lion is seen as the king of beasts, so it's no surprise that lion tattoos are popular among men who want to show their strength and power. Lions can also represent courage, honor, or pride. 

Lion Tattoo for Men

Compass Tattoo for Men 

Compasses are often associated with travel and adventure. They can represent exploration or new beginnings. For some people, compasses may also represent guidance or direction in life. 

Compass Tattoo for Men

Quote Tattoo for Men 

A tattoo quote is a great way to show your personality through ink. Choose a section that is meaningful to you or represents something important. A quote tattoo can be inspirational, motivational, funny, or anything else you want it to be. 

Quote Tattoo for Men

Best first tattoo placement ideas for men

When choosing the right spot for your first tattoo, there are a few key factors to consider. Pain tolerance, visibility, and personal preference all play a role in deciding which area is best for you. The most popular placement areas for first-time tattoos are:

Forearm tattoos for men 

The forearm is among the most popular male tattoo spots. It's a great spot if you want something visible but not too noticeable.

forearm tattoos men

Upper Arm Tattoos For Men

The upper arm area is another popular spot for tattoos, with significantly larger designs. It can be seen easily when wearing short sleeves or tank tops.

upper arm tattoo men

Shoulder/Back Tattoos For Men

The shoulder and back areas are ideal for larger designs. They can be seen wearing various clothing styles and offer plenty of room for intricate artwork.

back tattoo men

Chest Tattoos For Men

The chest is perfect for small to medium-sized tattoos. It's also one of the most minor painful areas, making it an excellent spot for first-timers.

chest tattoo men

Ribs Tattoos For Men

The ribs area is an excellent spot for tattoos and significantly smaller designs. It can be pretty painful, so it's essential to make sure you have a high pain tolerance.

Ribs Tattoos For Men

Best Tattoo Styles for Men

With countless tattoo styles to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect one, but we managed to gather the most popular tattoo styles for men and provide a brief description of each to help you make an informed decision.

American Traditional Style Tattoos

Also known as Old School, American Traditional tattoos feature bold outlines, limited color palettes, and classic imagery. Common themes include nautical symbols, pin-up girls, roses, and eagles. These tattoos are known for their timeless appeal and strong visual impact.

American Traditional tattoos

Tribal Style Tattoos

Tribal tattoos have been popular for decades and are inspired by indigenous cultures worldwide. These designs typically feature black, bold lines and intricate patterns. While Polynesian and Maori cultures inspire the most well-known tribal tattoos, other tribal styles include Native American, African, and Celtic designs.

Tribal Style Tattoos

Realism Style Tattoos

Realism tattoos are known for their lifelike detail and precision. Artists who specialize in realism tattoos aim to create designs that look like photographs, capturing every detail and texture. Common subjects for realism tattoos include portraits, animals, and nature scenes.

Realism Style Tattoos

Japanese Style Tattoos

Japanese tattoos, also known as Irezumi, are characterized by their large, intricate designs and vibrant colors. These tattoos often cover large areas of the body and incorporate traditional Japanese imagery, such as dragons, koi fish, cherry blossoms, and samurai warriors. Japanese tattoos are known for their rich symbolism and deep cultural significance.

Japanese Style Tattoos 1

Geometric Style Tattoos

Geometric tattoos feature shapes, lines, and patterns to create intricate, visually striking designs. These tattoos often incorporate elements of sacred geometry, mandalas, and optical illusions. Geometric tattoos can be simple and minimalistic or incredibly detailed and complex, making them an appealing option for a variety of tastes.

Geometric Style Tattoos

Patch Style Tattoos

Patch-style tattoos resemble embroidered patches, featuring a distinct border and a flat, graphic design. These tattoos often incorporate traditional tattoo imagery, such as roses, skulls, and animals, but with a modern twist. The patch style is perfect for those who want a bold, vibrant tattoo that makes a statement, while also paying homage to the classic tattoo aesthetic.

Patch Style Tattoos

Blackout Style Tattoos

Blackout tattoos are characterized by their use of solid black ink to create bold, striking designs. Often inspired by tribal and geometric styles, blackout tattoos can range from simple, minimalistic designs to large, detailed pieces that cover significant portions of the body.

Blackout Style Tattoos

Biomechanical Style Tattoos

Biomechanical tattoos blend organic and mechanical elements to create a unique, futuristic look. These designs often resemble machinery or robotic parts integrated with human anatomy, creating the illusion of a cyborg-like appearance. Biomechanical tattoos are known for their intricate detail and imaginative designs.

Biomechanical Style Tattoos

Watercolor Style Tattoos

Watercolor tattoos mimic the appearance of watercolor paintings, using soft colors and blending techniques to create a fluid, artistic look. These tattoos often feature splashes of color, brushstroke-like lines, and a more abstract approach to design. Popular subjects for watercolor tattoos include flowers, animals, and nature scenes. This style is perfect for those who want a more whimsical, artistic tattoo.

Watercolor Style Tattoos

Neo-traditional Style Tattoos

Neo-traditional tattoos build upon the foundations of American Traditional style while incorporating more modern elements, such as a broader color palette and more intricate details. This style often features the same classic imagery as traditional tattoos, but with a fresh, updated approach. Neo-traditional tattoos appeal to those who appreciate the classic tattoo aesthetic but want something more contemporary.

Neo traditional Style Tattoos

The History of Tattoos for Men

Tattoos have been a form of self-expression for centuries, with a rich and fascinating history that spans cultures and continents. From simple tattoos to detailed designs, men have long used tattoos as a means of showcasing their individuality and social status. 

Religious tattoos were among the earliest forms of tattooing, often used to display devotion and piety. However, in many cultures, tattoos were a symbol of social status or a way to ward off evil spirits.

In modern times, tattoos remain a popular means of expressing one's identity and beliefs. Popular options for men include meaningful designs that hold special meaning, often featuring quotes or symbols that speak to a deeper sense of purpose. Minimalist tattoos have also become increasingly popular, with simple designs that carry a powerful message.

For those looking for a badass tattoo, there are many meaningful tattoo designs to choose from. Popular tattoo ideas include bird of prey tattoos, which symbolize strength and freedom, and symbolic tattoos that represent the wearer's personal journey or spiritual beliefs. A skilled tattoo artist can help bring a classic tattoo design to life, using bright colors and detailed designs to create a piece of art that holds a deeper meaning.

Traditional tattooing remains a popular style of tattooing for men, with deep roots in many cultures around the world. In some cultures, tattoos were believed to be a symbol of life, and many tribal designs carry a symbolic meaning. Whether you are looking for a tattoo with deep meaning or a cool tattoo design that simply speaks to your sense of style, the options are virtually endless.

In conclusion, tattoos for men have a rich history that spans cultures and centuries. From simple tattoos to elaborate designs, tattoos have been used to showcase social status, ward off evil spirits, and express personal beliefs. Popular options today include religious tattoos, minimalist tattoos, and meaningful designs that carry a powerful message. Whether you opt for a bird of prey tattoo or a symbolic design, a tattoo can be a piece of art that holds a special meaning for years to come.

Navigating Tattoo Pain: Discomfort level based on Size and Location

Introduction: Getting a tattoo is an exciting experience, but it's essential to be prepared for the pain that comes with it. The pain level associated with a tattoo can vary depending on factors such as size and placement. In this article, we will explore how these factors impact your tattoo pain level and provide tips for managing the discomfort during the tattooing process.

The Impact of Size on Tattoo Pain

Generally, larger tattoos tend to be more painful than smaller ones. This is because larger tattoos require more time to complete, meaning that the skin is subjected to the tattoo needle for an extended period. Additionally, larger tattoos may cover more sensitive areas or require more shading and detail, which can increase the overall pain level.

However, it's essential to note that everyone's pain tolerance is different. Some people may find smaller tattoos more painful, while others may not experience much discomfort with a larger piece. Ultimately, the pain you experience will depend on your personal pain threshold and the specific design and technique used by the tattoo artist.

The Impact of Placement on Tattoo Pain

Placement plays a significant role in determining the pain level of a tattoo. Some areas of the body are more sensitive than others due to the presence of more nerve endings or thinner skin. Generally, the most painful tattoo placements are:

  • Ribs
  • Sternum
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Ankles
  • Hands and fingers
  • Feet and toes
  • Neck and throat
  • Inner bicep
  • Spine

Less painful tattoo placements tend to be on areas with more muscle or fat, which can help cushion the impact of the needle. These areas include:

  • Outer biceps
  • Forearms
  • Calves
  • Thighs
  • Shoulders
  • Upper back

It's important to remember that pain tolerance varies from person to person, and what may be painful for one person may not be as painful for another. When choosing a tattoo placement, consider your own pain threshold and how comfortable you'll be during the tattoo process.

Tips for Managing Tattoo Pain

While some pain is inevitable during the tattoo process, there are several strategies you can employ to help manage the discomfort:

  • Choose an experienced tattoo artist: Skilled artists can often work more efficiently, reducing the amount of time your skin is subjected to the needle.
  • Stay well-rested and hydrated before your appointment: A well-rested and hydrated body can better cope with pain and stress.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs: These substances can thin your blood, potentially making the tattooing process more painful and increasing the risk of complications.
  • Practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques: Focusing on your breath can help distract from the pain and keep you calm during the tattoo session.
  • Consider using a numbing cream: Some over-the-counter numbing creams can help alleviate pain during the tattooing process. Talk to your tattoo artist for recommendations and follow their advice on using these products.

Tattoo aftercare tips

Before getting a tattoo:

  1. Choose a reputable tattoo artist and parlor. Research the artist's portfolio and read reviews from previous clients.
  2. Consult with the artist about the design and placement of the tattoo.
  3. Make sure you are in good health. If you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications that may affect your ability to heal, be sure to let your tattoo artist know.
  4. Consider using a numbing cream to reduce pain during the tattooing process. These creams contain a numbing agent (such as lidocaine) that can be applied to the skin before the tattoo is done. It's important to follow the instructions on the numbing cream and to only use it as directed.
  5. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and other substances that can thin your blood for at least 24 hours before getting a tattoo.
  6. Eat a healthy meal before your tattoo session to ensure that your blood sugar is stable.
  7. Wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows easy access to the area being tattooed.

After getting a tattoo:

  1. Follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist. These may include: 
    • Keeping the tattoo clean and covered with a bandage for the first few hours after getting tattooed.
    • Washing the tattoo with lukewarm water and a mild soap (such as unscented, antimicrobial soap) and patting it dry with a clean towel.
    • Applying a thin layer of tattoo ointment or lotion (such as A&D or Aquaphor) to the tattoo and covering it with a clean bandage or wrap.
    • Repeating this process for the first few days, or until the tattoo has fully scabbed over.
  1. Avoid soaking the tattoo in water for the first week, such as in a bath or pool.
  2. Avoid picking or scratching at the scabs, as this can cause the tattoo to fade or become infected.
  3. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight or tanning beds for at least 2-4 weeks.
  4. If you experience any redness, swelling, or unusual discharge, contact your tattoo artist or a healthcare professional.

Overall, it's important to keep your tattoo clean and moisturized during the healing process to ensure that it heals properly and looks its best. Using a numbing cream can help reduce pain during the tattooing process, but it's important to use it as directed and to follow all aftercare instructions to ensure that your tattoo heals properly.

People Also Ask:

What tattoo should I get as a male?

The best tattoo for you is one that has personal meaning and is a reflection of your individual style. Consider your interests, hobbies, values, and beliefs when choosing a design.

What is a good first tattoo for a guy?

A simple design, such as a symbol or word that holds significant meaning, is often a good choice for a first tattoo. Consider the placement of the tattoo and the size, as these factors can affect the healing process and overall appearance of the tattoo.

What tattoos look best on guys?

This is subjective and varies from person to person. Popular tattoos for men include tribal designs, symbols, portraits, landscapes, and lettering.

Where should I get my first tattoo?

Look for a reputable and experienced tattoo artist who has a portfolio of high-quality work. It is important to research the shop's hygiene and safety practices before getting a tattoo.

How much does a tattoo cost?

The cost of a tattoo varies depending on the size, complexity of the design, and location of the shop. On average, a small tattoo can cost anywhere from $50 to $300, while larger tattoos or sleeves can cost several thousand dollars.

How painful is getting a tattoo?

Pain tolerance varies from person to person, but most people describe the sensation as similar to a mild to moderate sunburn. Areas such as the ribcage, inner arm, and calf can be more sensitive and uncomfortable to tattoo.

What should I do to prepare for my first tattoo?

Research the design you want, find a reputable artist, and make sure you are in good health. It is important to eat a meal and hydrate before getting a tattoo.

What should I consider when choosing my first tattoo?

Consider the placement of the tattoo, as this will affect how easily it can be covered or shown. Also, think about the design and make sure it has personal meaning and is something you will still want to have on your body in the future.

Where is the best place to get a tattoo?

The best place to get a tattoo is at a reputable and experienced tattoo shop that has a strong focus on hygiene and safety practices. Do your research and read reviews before choosing a shop.

What are cool tattoos for guys?

Cool tattoos for guys can vary, but popular designs include tribal tattoos, symbols, portraits, landscapes, and lettering. Ultimately, the best tattoo for you is one that has personal meaning and is a reflection of your individual style.

Where should a guy get his first tattoo?

If this is your first tattoo, start with a small, discreet design in an area of your body that isn't highly visible (like the underside of your upper arm or on your hip). See how you like it and go from there. Just as you would test a new skin product before using it all over your body, give yourself some time to adjust to having a new tattoo.

How painful is a first tattoo?

If you're worried about the pain, we recommend starting small. We suggest getting a smaller piece — under an hour — as your first tattoo. Tattoo pain is very subjective, and while it might not be a big deal to some people, it can be unbearable for others.

Do tattoos make men attractive?

A study showed that women believe tattooed men are healthier but not more attractive than those without tattoos. Men see tattooed men as more attractive but not more beneficial than the average man. Also, women think less of potential parents and partners if they have visible tattoos.

Where is the most minor painful tattoo spot?

The outermost layer of skin on your shoulders has fewer nerve endings, making it one of the ideal places to get tattooed.

How soon after a tattoo can you shower?

Wait 3-4 hours after your artist applies the wrap before showering to avoid soaking the tattoo area for at least 2 weeks. Remove any soap immediately if it comes in contact with the tattoo.

What Does A 3% Tattoo Mean?

According to the law center's website, the Three Percenters take their name from the unsubstantiated claim that only 3 percent of American colonists fought against the British during the Revolutionary War.

What Tattoos Are Popular Now?

There are endless tattoo ideas for men, but some of the most popular ones are animal tattoos, geometric tattoos, tribal tattoos, and skull tattoos.

What Is The Most Popular Tattoo Style?

The most popular styles for men's tattoos are black and white, dotwork, geometric, neotraditional, and traditional.

As for color, it really depends on the tattoo idea itself, but it can range from simple 1-2 color tattoos to full rainbow styles.

What Tattoo Placements Are Popular For Men?

The most popular placements for tattoos for men are the arm, chest, back, and shoulder.

Top 5 sleeve tattoo ideas for men:

1. Animal tattoos

2. Geometric tattoos

3. Tribal tattoos

4. Skull tattoos

5. Dotwork tattoos

What Tattoos Mean Strength?

There are a few tattoos that are particularly popular when it comes to the meaning of tattoos for men. Animal tattoos usually represent strength, power, and courage, like the lion, the king of the jungle, or the bear, a symbol of strength and power.

What Is The Most Common First Tattoo?

Forearm tattoos are often the first choice for people getting their first tattoo. And when you see how good they look in examples, it's easy to understand why.

Watch A Video time lapse Of A Tattoo For Men Done By A Pro:

350+ first tattoo ideas for men To Get Inspired From 

Final thoughts

Embarking on your first tattoo journey is a significant milestone. With these steps and a vast array of first tattoo ideas men at your disposal, you can confidently choose the perfect design that truly represents you. By using online tattoo design services like tattoochronic.com, researching your options, and seeking recommendations, you'll be well on your way to a successful and meaningful tattoo experience. Explore various tattoo ideas for men with meaning, good first tattoos for guys, mens first tattoo ideas, and more to make an informed decision that will stay with you for a lifetime.

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