When it comes to tattoos, many people are interested in getting one that has a meaningful story or deep personal significance behind it. Looking around the internet, it’s clear that people have gotten much more creative than just plastering “Mom” on their body!
The inspiration behind tattoos can sometimes be heartbreaking. I remember a teacher of mine who would never tell us what the tattoo on his arm was all about, for instance. On the final day of class, he told us that his wife had passed away several years ago, and he had her last words tattooed on his arm. I still get choked up thinking about it.
Other times, tattoos are mean to celebrate something, like a bond between friends or family, or a happy memory. So whether or not you’re into getting inked, this list of 17 incredible tattoo stories is guaranteed to have you both smile and be on the verge of tears.
A Child’s Laugh
When this man’s baby died of SIDS, he had a waveform image representing the sound of the child’s laugh tattooed over his heart. What a tear jerking but creative way to always keep the memory with you!
The Owl Coverup
This person was a student at Virginia Tech when a shooting rocked campus in 2007. Originally, they got the school’s logo and the date of the shooting as a tattoo. When they got tired of having to relive the tragedy when people asked about it, they covered it up with this unique owl and skull combo.
A Mother’s Age
She got “17” in Roman numerals tattooed on her arm. Why? She’s adopted, and never knew much about her birth mother — only that she was 17 when she had her.
Her grandpa always promised to build her a tire swing, but his cystic fibrosis kept him from it. So she had one tattooed after he passed away.
The Concentration Camp Survivor
This person’s grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, lived to the ripe old age of 96. He then had his grandfather’s concentration camp number tattooed on his arm.
This group of four siblings, with four years separating each, had a rocky childhood. As they grew up, they also grew closer. The perfect way to symbolize this? Each had one of the four playing card suits — clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds — tattooed on their arm.
This husband got an elephant protecting another from the rain as a way to symbolize support for his wife’s struggles with depression.
A Child’s Heart
This one’s simple but adorable: a mother had a heart made out of her child’s thumbprints tattooed on her forearm.
The Surprising Song Quote
This mother and daughter each got part of the lyrics to a favorite song, “You Really Got a Hold on Me.” One tattooed the first words (“I don’t like you”) and other other the rest of the line (“but I love you”). Definitely cute and attention-grabbing!
Note from Brother
When this woman went off to college, she had a simple note from her brother (who has Down Syndrome) tattooed on her arm, in his handwriting: “I love you, Christine. – Anthony”
The Destroyed Home
When a propane leak caused this woman’s childhood home to explode, it killed her parents. As a way to memorialize them, she got a tattoo of the home reimagined as a treehouse, complete with her parents’ initials “carved” into the trunk.
Written in the Stars
This mother got a star chart representing the exact istant of her child’s birth as a tattoo. For her, this captured a difficult birth, but also the moment her life changed forever.
“Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles was going to be their father/daughter dance at her wedding one day. When he passed away too soon, she had the song title pieced together from individual letters in his handwriting, and tattooed on her
When this woman’s dad died, she wanted to tattoo a memory of him. He had a unique appearance, with thick glasses and a bushy moustache — so she had those two things tattooed just behind her ear. What a quirky way to remember a funky dad!
This couple got matching tattoos: interlocking Jesus fish. They meant it to symbolize their faith, their togetherness, and the fact that they met on the dating site Plenty of Fish. The best part is that the tats show when they hold hands.
When the oldest in a group of sisters went away to college in another state, she had “sisters” tattooed in Morse code on her arm. Her younger sister got the same tattooed on her foot because she “walks in her footsteps.” They say that when their youngest sister turns 18, she’ll get it tattooed on her back because the other two always have her back.
Memories of Home
These siblings got the print from the Corell plates they used growing up as a matching tattoo. What a unique way to remember home!
These tattoo designs are so creative and inspiring! What do you think about them? Do you have any special tattoos, or ideas for one?