The heart is a classic tattoo design – it seems everyone from tough ex-cons and burly bikers to the sweetest little feminine ladies feature a heart somewhere on their body! It was service men in the military during World War II that first made the heart tattoo popular, usually with a banner and the name of a loved one, or the ubiquitous ‘Mom’.
Today hearts most often symbolize romance, love of a woman, friendship, courage (remember the cowardly Lion and his search for a heart?), and emotion.
Photo by “Shannon Archuleta” on Flickr
There are many ways to depict a heart in body art. A heart pierced by an arrow is a common representation of being struck by Cupid’s arrow. An American flag shaped like a heart symbolizes a deep, abiding love of country. The Irish claddagh design uses two cupped hands holding a heart and denotes a love relationship between friends or an engaged couple.
Photo by “tuppus” on Flickr
Color denotes various things, too. A white heart is often used by those in the nursing profession. A black heart is usually used to indicate mourning or grief. Most often tattoo hearts are inked in red, but a gold heart could be used to symbolize consciousness of a higher being or a heightened self awareness.
Photo by “L. Marie” on Flickr
Heart tattoos can be tiny specks of color atop the foot or on an ankle or shoulder. They can be interspersed with tribal designs or denoted with wings or flames on a bicep. Some people even opt for a heart drawn as a realistic organ of the body and placed on the chest.
Hearts are a classic body art design appropriate anywhere in varying sizes, styles, and colors.