The heart is one of the most popular tattoo design elements in the world and people have been inking this tribute to love on their bodies for more than a century.
Tattoo artists draw inspiration from numerous artistic traditions to produce mind blowing heart tattoos. While American traditional work remains popular, the diversity of modern heart tattoo ideas is as varied and unique. For example, many people choose to get a 3D heart design or realistic heart tattoo instead of the stylized ideogram, while intricate heartagram and heartbeat tattoo design elements are also popular.
Whether it’s a broken heart or crying heart dedicated to lost love, or a sacred heart tattoo that would look at home in a Catholic church, heart tattoos are a great choice thanks to their classic look and the powerful symbolism associated with this vital organ.
1. Anatomical Heart Tattoos
While the traditional heart tattoo goes back nearly a century, one modern trend sees more tattoo lovers using a geometric heart or anatomical depictions of this multi-valve organ in their heart tattoo design instead of the stylized ideogram we see on Valentine’s Day cards.
The qualities and characteristics of love, loyalty, and friendship remain when using this more accurate representation. The unmistakable shape of the heart means that even for someone unfamiliar with human anatomy the significance of the design is clear as day.
These excellent heart tattoos use a variety of styles and approaches and demonstrate that for a man or woman, on the chest or the wrist, an anatomical approach to heart tattoo design is a great choice.
2. Black and Red Heart Designs
As you can imagine, the color palette that is used in a tattoo can have a profound on the overall feel of a piece and these black and red heart tattoos perfectly demonstrate the power of color. Black and red is a great choice for heart tattoos thanks to their sanguinary associations.
The variety of red heart tattoo styles on display in this collection are great examples of the diversity and effectiveness of this palette. Small heart tattoos with script, American traditional designs and heart tattoos that draw inspiration from black and red trash polka all demonstrate why so many people choose these colors for their heart tattoo designs.
3. The Colorful Heart Symbol
For some folks the only way to complete their one of a kind heart tattoo is through the use of vibrant colors. Luckily for them, a talented tattoo artist can create a unique and compelling heart tattoo idea that utilizes a colorful palette in a variety of styles and approaches.
The heart tattoos in this collection demonstrate the different styles that benefit from a bit of color: an American traditional sunset contained within a heart, a matching tattoo on the wrist applied in a watercolor style, and a multicolored puzzle heart produced with precise line work all have this vital organ as their centerpiece.
4. Heavy Black Ink Bold and Beautiful Tattoo Concepts
While some people prefer bright colors, for others black ink is all they need to complete their heart tattoo and this monochromatic approach takes on added significance when the subject matter is so packed with meaning. Heart tattoos are often used to represent love, friendship and loyalty, or be a part of a tribal heart tattoo design; however a black heart tattoo can turn this symbolism on its head.
This darker meaning can be enhanced by the addition of other interesting details: a broken heart tattoo or flaming heart tattoo can emphasize the corruption of love and are often used to commemorate the wearer’s aversion to the warm and cuddly feelings most people associate with a heart shape.
These heart tattoos provide great examples of how well a black ink approach can work for a variety of heart tattoo designs.
5. Innovative and Beautiful Tattoo Designs
Any good tattoo artist will tell you that they are always working to sharpen their craft and take their tattoos to the next level and it is this commitment to innovation that makes tattoo design such an interesting art form.
It’s not just technical skill that a tattoo artist dedicates their time to; creating unique and compelling design concepts is also an essential part being a successful tattoo artist and these heart tattoos are great examples of bespoke design work.
A black and gray heart with an eye at its center uses an approach that is reminiscent of pencil sketches, while another piece uses an anatomical heart as the frame for a recreation of the famous Japanese woodblock print The Great Wave off Kanagawa. These heart tattoos show that the sky really is the limit when a creative and skilled tattoo artist is on the case.
6. Minimalist and Tiny Tattoo Ideas
Not all tattoos need to be large and intricate to be successful. In fact—as these heart tattoos demonstrate—sometimes a more restrained approach is better suited to certain designs and the heart designs in this collection utilize a minimalist aesthetic to create a tiny tattoo or clean piece of body art.
Some of these tiny heart tattoos use only two or three lines to complete the design but thanks to the distinctive heart shape there is no mistaking the subject matter of these heart tattoos.
7. Small Heart Tattoo Designs
Once again, we have a collection of heart tattoos that prove sometimes less truly is more. These small heart tattoos are applied in a variety of styles and draw inspiration from a number of sources but they all keep this vital organ at the center of their design.
Some use the familiar ideogram, while others use an anatomical depiction to complete their designs. Several of these small heart tattoos demonstrate just how successful the design can be when placed on the wrist, finger or forearm, adding a subtle flash of ink that is sure to catch the eye of everyone the wearer meets.
8. Traditional and Neo Traditional Concepts
Characterized by bold lines and vibrant colors, American traditional is what many people think of when they hear the word “tattoo”. Hearts have been common design elements in this style for decades, with many of the original flash sheets in tattoo shops having an assortment of heart tattoo to choose from.
Neo-traditional work retains the bold lines of American traditional but eases the restrictions on color combinations and subject matter that was an original part of this older style. These heart tattoos are great examples of both of these interesting approaches to tattoo design.
Heart Tattoo FAQs
What do heart tattoos mean?
The most common significance associated with heart tattoos is love, however this is far too broad a concept to be of real use when examining the symbolism behind the wide variety of heart tattoos.
In today’s world, both tattoo artists and body art enthusiasts often choose heart tattoo designs with deeper and more complex significance. Courage, loyalty and friendship are characteristics commonly associated with heart tattoos; on the other hand a black heart might symbolize the antithesis of these positive traits.
More and more people are also choosing to use an anatomical heart as the centerpiece for their heart tattoos with some interesting results. For some folks, by using an anatomical heart they can highlight the pain of lost love by adding other elements like a piercing arrow or dripping blood.
The origins of the heart tattoo can be traced back to old American traditional tattoo design: tattoo enthusiasts would often get a heart tattoo accompanied by a scroll featuring the name of a lover or family member as a way to show their regard for that loved one to the world. They were also linked to bravery with the dagger heart tattoo popular with servicemen that served in conflict.
Besides fraternal and romantic love, the heart also has deep significance in religious traditions, notably the sacred heart in the Catholic Church. One of the most important religious symbols in Catholicism, the sacred heart represents the actual heart of Jesus Christ and is depicted in a variety of ways.
Sometimes portrayed as an anatomical heart and sometimes the ideogram we are all familiar with, the sacred heart tattoo is also usual encircled by a crown of thorns with a wound from where a Roman soldier stabbed Jesus while he was crucified, symbolizing Christ’s sacrifice. The sacred heart is also commonly accompanied by a cross and burning flame symbolizing Jesus’ love for all humanity.
How much does a small heart tattoo cost?
While it is not the first thing that most people think about when looking for a new tattoo design, there is no getting around the fact that money is part of the tattoo process and having a general idea of how much a tattoo design will cost is important.
Most tattoo artists charge an hourly rate which may be as low as $50 or as high as $200 an hour for experienced, in-demand artists. When looking at a small heart tattoo there is little chance that a design will take more than an hour, so a simple heart tattoo design will likely fall under the shop minimum rate.
Most shops have a minimum price—usually between $50 and $100—because even for a small heart tattoo that only takes thirty five minutes to complete an artist has to set up, sanitize and apply a stencil before they can even begin to tattoo. It’s worth noting that even for small tattoos, as the complexity of the design increases so will the price tag.
Did you enjoy these unique tattoo ideas dedicated to heart design? Click on the links below for more popular tattoo galleries, featuring the heart symbol: