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.
The diversity of modern heart tattoo ideas is varied and unique. The experienced tattoo artist draws inspiration from numerous artistic traditions to produce mind blowing heart tattoos, or cool simple pieces. While American traditional work remains popular, the diversity of modern heart tattoo ideas is 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, heartbeat tattoo design elements and American traditional work remains popular.
As this gallery of top 103+ heart tattoo ideas demonstrates, there are numerous great choices for inspiration thanks to the timeless style and powerful symbolism associated with this vital organ.
1. Heartbeat Tattoos
One of the more clever design ideas developed in recent years has been the advent of heartbeat tattoos. By donning the electronic patterns of a pulse monitor, tattoo heart collectors can display a combination of science and emotion.
While some people prefer bright colors and the neo traditional tattoo idea, for others black ink simplicity is all they need to complete their heartbeat tattoo.
The monochromatic approach to heart design can take on added significance when the subject matter is so packed with meaning.
2. Sacred Heart Tattoo Designs
The Sacred Heart is one of the most popular images in Christianity. The Sacred Heart tattoo represents Jesus Christ’s undying love for mankind, and it has been circulated for generations.
Many religious followers choose to have this tattoo heart on their body so they can have a constant reminder of its importance to them, yet it’s a heart symbol tattoo that can take many dimensions in technique and style.
There is always a heart of some sort at the center of the piece, while secondary images complement the heart tattoo with a Christian themes – such as angel wings, a halo, or a cross.
3. Broken Heart Tattoos
A broken heart tattoo is a multi-tiered symbol that not only speaks to the physical pain that one might go through at the lose of a loved one, but also to the greater metaphor of the destruction of the literal mechanism for love.
Broken heart tattoos serve as an excellent reminder of what once was, and they can be stylized in many different ways that can correlate to the individual or the situation.
In tattoo art there’s a vast difference between love lost as a result of death and love lost to time or degradation. A broken heart tattoo can be used to showcase either situation, and each tattoo inspiration is just as meaningful as the other.
The classic little heart design is perhaps the image most associated with love, trust, and compassion, so the imagery of a broken heart is something that reaches deep within the psyche.
4. Anatomical Heart Tattoos
The heart is an incredibly complex organ, and most visual representations fail to capture the high level of detail involved.
Luckily, overly simplistic symbols are no longer the only way to showcase deep emotional values, as described in the best heart tattoo ideas.
With today’s powerful tattoo technology, it is now possible to replicate every valve and ventricle, whether it’s a large heart design prominently displayed on the body, or a tiny linework piece on the nape, wrist, or chest.
Of course, these masterpieces are highly customizable. A partner’s name can be easily integrated into the finished design, or add extra oomph with a colorful red heart tattoo,
The anatomical heart tattoo can also be used to encase a previously existing inscription and give the human heart shape more realistic depth.
5. Small Heart Tattoos
A small heart tattoo is one of the most timeless tattoo design concepts, with the organ most often representing love and affection.
The heart in many variations is an enduring tattoo for small designs or simple tattoo ideas
These days, the red heart has expanded beyond expressions of love to incorporate loyalty, friendship, and courage, while a black heart tattoo is tied to grief and mourning.
No matter the placement or style of small tattoo you are looking for, there’s a worthy heart idea you can use for quality tattoo inspiration.
6. Black Heart Tattoo Ideas
Just as a red heart tattoo represents love, a black heart tattoo usually symbolizes a lost love – whether family or romantic – as well as being a common symbol of grief and mourning.
An anatomical black heart tattoo may often have more diverse meanings, although they are almost always symbols of some form of loss or grief.
This darker aspected body art can be enhanced by the addition of other interesting details: a broken heart tattoo or flaming heart tattoo can emphasize the corruption of love. They are often used to commemorate the wearer’s aversion to the warm and cuddly feelings most people associate with the more common heart symbol tattoo idea.
7. Queen of Hearts Tattoos
There are generally four main styles of Queen of Hearts tattoos, those that reference Alice in Wonderland, stylized renderings of playing cards, those that look to faithfully replicate real playing cards, and small tattoo ideas featuring just the Q and heart.
The recent Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland has seen the rise of Helena Bonham Carter themed cartoon Queen of Hearts tattoo designs shouting, “off with their heads.”
The Queen of Hearts makes for a popular tattoo choice referencing themes such as love and passion right through to Alice in Wonderland, double heart designs and pop song references.
8. Heart Outline Tattoos
Some tattoo collectors prioritize simple symbolism over grand designs of bright color and complexity.
A heart outline tattoo – in either the positive (love and friendship) or negative (loss and grief) – is the exact minimalist idea simple ink employs to convey a strong message with little fuss.
In general, outline heart tattoos are quickly etched and deftly executed, although some add a few flourishes to broaden the theme or intensify the message as required.
Development in tattoo artist skillsets and machine/ink innovation has also helped these simple designs go beyond the rudimentary to become quality applications across a range of styles.
9. Crying Heart Tattoos
We all cope with heartbreak-whether it be romantic, the death of a family member, the betrayal of a friend, or the loss of your dog-in different ways.
If you’re looking for heart tattoos designs that will immortalize your feelings and even give you some physical pain to distract you from the hurt, a crying heart tattoo might just be the best thing for you.
The crying little heart was created and popularized by the grandfather of Los Angeles tattoo artistry: Bert Grimm. When you think of the style of 20th century tattoo art, you’re likely thinking of Bert Grimm. He was the first to implement bold, thick lines with his ink so that his images would remain for decades.
A crying heart is not only a tribute to the loss you’ve endured, it’s also a call back to the history of tattooing and honors the old school ink that came before you.
10. Heartagram Tattoos
Heartagram tattoos are deeply meaningful symbols that are packed to the brim with poignancy.
These sentimental pentagram variations provide the best of both worlds, and represent to the duality of good and evil.
The rounded enclosure incorporates a five-pointed star, but two of the sharpened ends have been rounded to deliver a more romantic impact.
The softening of the edges also quells some of the bluntness associated with standard pentagrams. Occult meanings are still fully intact, but any overtly offensive aspects have been removed in favor of a more interpretive piece of body art.
11. Traditional Heart Tattoos
The heart shape is one of the most versatile symbols when creating traditional tattoos. One of the most classic is a heart tattoo with a banner over it that says “mom” to depict the tattoo lover’s devotion to their mother.
Modern variations of the best heart tattoo ideas may include the name of another loved one, favorite location, or other type of love.
Almost all traditional heart tattoos are either black and grey or black and red. Due to the symbolic nature of this shape, it is often used as a frame around another tattoo to show a person’s deep love for the item.
12. Realistic Heart Tattoos
Heart tattoos are personally meaningful and sentimental tattoos, representing our love for one another, our most heart-felt passions and even deeper spiritual love.
Countless interpretations of heart tattoos are available, and a professional tattoo artist can create an exquisite customized design as unique as the special love you wish to immortalize in ink.
The realistic heart tattoo is unique among other heart tattoos because it portrays the physical heart exactly how it is anatomically, untouched by symbolic interpretation.
There is an astoundingly profound juxtaposition in mixing that kind of biological realism with the massively complex and deep symbolism of emotional love.
13. Infinity Heart Tattoos
Heart tattoos are some of the most timeless tattoo design concepts made stronger by the addition of the infinity symbol.
A simple heart most often represents love and affection, by adding the figure eight of an infinity loop the concept of endless love is then created in a range of tattoo design styles and sizes.
These days, the red heart has expanded beyond expressions of love to incorporate loyalty, friendship, and courage, which are also concepts that can be strengthened by the addition of the infinity symbol.
14. Bleeding Heart Tattoos
A bleeding heart tattoo is often aligned with loss and grief. This is most often for lost romantic relationships, but they can also be applied to loss of loved ones, friends, and pets.
Bleeding heart tattoos are most often done in American traditional style, incorporating other elements of popular heart tattoos designs such as the sacred heart, black heart, broken hearts, and even anatomical concepts to individualize each variation of the tattoo.
15. Mom Heart Tattoos
A classic American traditional design is a heart tattoo with a banner over it that says “mom” to depict a person’s devotion to their mother.
Mom heart tattoos were made famous by Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins and the artists of yesteryear. The old school tattoo style is usually done simply in bold black or the limited color palette of red, black, green, or yellow ink.
Modern variations of the best mom heart tattoo ideas have branched out from a simple heart and banner. These neo traditional designs still feature old ink principles of bold line and flat shading, but may include realistic, mechanical, or anatomical hearts done with contemporary bright inks.
16. Heart with Wings Tattoos
Heart with wings tattoo designs combine the heart’s theme of eternal love with the grief of loss represented by the wings of an angel.
Heart with wings tattoos most often memorialize the loss of a lover or close family member, although they can depict the love of pets and close friends who’ve departed this plane as well.
They are a powerful, beautifully symbolic tattoo idea that can be expressed in a multitude of technical applications, ranging from old school and linework designs through to contemporary ink of great detail, bright color, and individuality.
More on the Symbolism of Heart Tattoos
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: the tattoo lover 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, from World War II onward.
Besides fraternal and romantic love, the heart tattoo design 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.
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.
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.
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.