Best friend tattoos are the ultimate show of camaraderie and a great way to commemorate an important experience or relationship.
One of the best things about a bff (best friends forever) tattoo is that they aren’t limited to any one style or approach. Literally, anything can be used to memorialize these powerful relationships as long as the friends agree on the shared significance of the matching tattoo design.
Some people prefer their matching best friend tattoo to be a secret, with the true significance of the design only apparent to the tight-knit friends who share the ink. Other people like their friendship tattoos to be a bit more straightforward.
There are a number of symbols — shaking hands, pinky promise, and crossed arrow tattoo designs are common — that more clearly represent this powerful bond.
Whatever the design, a shared trip to the tattoo parlor for some shared tattoo pain, ink, and shed blood is the perfect way to honor the friendships that make life worth living. Take a look at our list of best friend tattoo ideas that could inspire you and your bff.
1. Animal BFF Tattoo Ideas
Animals make for great tattoos; it’s just that simple. Whether it’s elephant tattoos or a pair of butterfly tattoos, there is something about the way people connect with different animals that makes these the perfect subject for matching tattoos celebrating friendship.
The work on display in this gallery provides a great cross-section of the styles and approaches that can be utilized for animal designs: black and gray bees, full color fish, and a cartoon elephant tattoo perfectly demonstrate why so many people choose to commemorate their bond with matching bff tattoos.
2. Black Ink Tattoo Design for BFF Ideas
Black ink tattoo work goes back all the way to the beginnings of this ancient tradition, and thanks to its understated charm, this style remains popular to this day. While there are definitely certain concepts and designs that work better using this approach, black ink isn’t limited to any one style, and these interesting pieces demonstrate this versatility.
A simple anchor tattoo, playful ghosts, and crossed arrow tattoo designs are all precisely executed and are sure to call to mind these important friendships for years to come.
3. Cartoon Cute Best Friend Tattoos
One of the best places to draw inspiration for a matching friendship tattoo is from shared experiences. For many people, the cartoons they grew up watching provide the perfect subjects for cute tattoos.
While most of these excellent pieces faithfully recreate the original cartoon characters as they appeared on television, this is not the only design option. As several of these friendship tattoo approaches demonstrate, artistic license allows the tattoo artist to incorporate different elements into these designs. More liberal interpretations are fair game.
4. Colorful Friend Tattoos
For some people, there is just no way to accurately capture their style and sensibilities other than using vibrant colors. The friendship tattoos in this gallery demonstrate a variety of styles and approaches, although they all utilize bright and colorful palettes to help their subject matter pop. Whether it’s a sunset scene or a happy little cactus, sometimes color is the only way to go.
5. Food Friendship Ink
Once again, we see people looking to shared experiences to inform the designs they create for their matching best friend tattoos. The food we share and the drinks we toast are some of the most profound ways we connect with our friends and family. This makes food tattoos the perfect way to commemorate lifelong friendships permanently.
From a cute tattoo of pizza and cake applied in bright colors to black linework broccoli whose hatch shading evokes images of lithographs, the food we share brings us together.
6. Group of Friends
Friendships aren’t limited to pairs. In fact, when it comes to the people that make you smile, the more, the merrier. That’s why some people choose to get matching tattoos with a group, letting everyone know there is no breaking up this crew.
These pieces take simple designs and alter one element for each person in the group. One takes an anchor tattoo on the wrist and changes the color of the heart, while another fills in alternating heart tattoos, so each person has a similar but unique design.
7. Innovative Friend Tattoos
It’s always exciting to see a tattoo artist continue to innovate. These excellent bff tattoos don’t disappoint. Some of these matching tattoos impress with their perfectly straight lines and precise shading, while others use concepts that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Dalí painting to commemorate true friendship.
What they all have in common is the way the tattoo artists use expert details to create one-of-a-kind memorials to the friendships that make life a little sweeter.
8. Linework Body Art
Linework is the single most essential element in any successful tattoo. Without consistent and precise lines, even the most compelling concept will fail as it slowly transforms into an amorphous blob as the years pass.
In fact, lines are so important to creating a successful tattoo that more and more people are choosing designs that skip complex shading and vibrant colors and instead let the lines speak for themselves. These excellent tattoos demonstrate this approach, with several pinky swear tattoos being especially clean examples.
9. Simple and Small Tattoo Examples
Not everyone needs expansive tattoos to demonstrate the importance of a friend in their life. For those people who want to exercise a bit of restraint in their body art, simple and small tattoos are an excellent choice. Whatever style and concept, tiny tattoos can demonstrate just how appealing simplicity can be.
10. Sun and Moon Tattoo Expressions
Not every pair of best friends are carbon copies of each other. In fact, some of the best friendships come in unlikely shapes, demonstrating their platonic love in a different fashion.
For best friends who recognize that their differences are what make them so compatible, tattoo designs that highlight this contrast can be the perfect choice, and what better way to capture this relationship than with the sun and moon? These pieces take a variety of approaches and utilize different styles, but they all demonstrate just how successful sun and moon tattoos can be.
11. Watercolor Tattoo Ideas for BFFs
One approach to tattoos that continues to gain popularity uses bold lines and a loose application of vibrant colors that spill over the outline to recreate the effect of watercolor paintings. For many people who grew up using watercolor, this is the perfect way to commemorate the friends who are there when we need them and help us enjoy life a little bit more.
The best friendships arise through shared laughter, and for some people, these inside jokes and dark humor provide the perfect inspiration for matching friendship tattoos. Whether it’s a bizarre scene from a Tim Burton movie or a tie-dye alien, sometimes it’s the weird that holds us together. These excellent tattoos perfectly demonstrate the importance of having a friend who shares your strange sense of humor.
Best Friend Tattoos FAQ
What tattoos best represent friendship?
As the tattoos in this gallery demonstrate, best friend tattoos can come in an endless variety of designs and cover any number of concepts.
Within the tattoo community, the most common and instantly recognizable friendship design is two hands shaking. Often referred to as “friendship hands,” this design has been adopted by a number of styles, although the tattoo originated in the American traditional school. A slightly different variation of this is the pinky swear or pinky promise tattoo, which is just a simple linked pinky as part of the hand tattoo design.
Another design that has gained acceptance as a symbol of friendship is two crossed arrows. This design signifies that two people are “on the same side” and it is often used to symbolize brothers in arms. While the true origins of this symbol are lost to time, many speculate there are some ties to Native American traditions.
The Celtic tradition — known for its intricate knot work designs that have become a popular inspiration for tattoos — has its own symbol for friendship. Known as the Claddagh ring, this Irish symbol is comprised of two hands holding a heart upon which a crown rests, and it represents friendship, love, and loyalty. The heart symbolizes love, the hands represent friendship, and the crown represents loyalty. With a history dating back to at least the 1700s, the Claddagh ring is a powerful design — even if made into a tiny tattoo — that can be incorporated into matching best friend tattoos.
Did you enjoy these bff tattoo designs? Looking for more ideas to apply to your first tattoo with a friend? Click on the links below for some more cool galleries to apply to friend tattoo idea: