Memorial tattoos are emotionally deep and complicated since there’s a lot of feeling attached to these pieces.

That emotional component means people make great decisions, and sometimes people make some really regrettable decisions.

That’s why it’s important to discuss both the thought process leading up to a decision to get a memorial tattoo, and then about the various styles that are out there.

As I always mention, this is something you’re going to have permanently tattooed on your body, and, as an artist, I want you to be happy about your ink over the many years to come.

The Reasons Surrounding Memorial Tattoos

There are some awesome things to value about this type of tribute, for those who are considering it, including:

  • Your memorial “statement” is always there when you need it
  • It’s extremely personal, yours and nobody else’s
  • Your reminder of that person becomes a permanent part of you

But, that doesn’t mean memorial tattoos are for everyone. Let’s face it, many people are limited by the industries they work in, or other social constraints, making a bold statement on a visible part of your body less than your best choice. Also, if you have frequently changing feelings about the person due to a stormy relationship, you might want to hold off and see where you’re at emotionally after a little time passes.

As was mentioned at the top, this is an extremely personal and emotional choice, with many attached considerations.

Memorial Tattoos: Popular Themes and Elements

If you have made a firm decision that this is the best way to memorialize this important person, then it’s important to consider the style you’d like to have inked onto your body for the rest of your life:


One of the most popular symbols used in memorial tattoos, angels can be used to communicate that a loved one is now among the angels in the afterlife, or that the person is now watching over you as your guardian.

Angel wings also symbolize a person’s departure, and can easily have meaningful text incorporated.


Crosses are commonly used to symbolize your faith in God or to symbolize love and respect for someone that is no longer with you.

Memorial tattoos that utilize crosses as their primary element have natural spaces and vertical lines, which means names, dates, and other text can be worked in naturally.

Names and Other Text

On their own, names make for very straightforward design.

Common to most memorial tattoos, people have the initials, the full name, or a special nickname of the person they remember, whether on its own or incorporated into a larger design.

People occasionally bring in something handwritten by the person who has passed away, asking the artist to replicate the handwriting of the individual. This can also be used for any type of quote, Bible verse, saying, or other text desired.


In some cases, people choose portraits, saying these memorial tattoos allow them to carry both the presence and the image of their loved at all times.

Done well, these are amazing pieces, but it’s really important to keep in mind that a portrait is an elaborate work. That means it’s critical to get these memorial tattoos from an experienced artist.

Nothing would be worse than a memorial portrait that doesn’t look like the person you remember.

Also, it’s important to mention that portrait tattoos of children often fail. They are notoriously difficult to pull off. The final results often resemble old people rather than very young, so it may be better to stick with symbolism for babies and young children.

Memorial Tattoos: The Most Important Point

First, you’ll need to provide your artist with lots of information about the tattoo your considering, and why you want a particular design theme. Show your artist examples, offer suggestions, and communicate about what you want. Talk about names, dates, and other text you’d like added.

Second, you need to step back and take your hands off the wheel. Let the artist design a custom piece for you.

Third, let the artist explain the custom piece. As professionals, they understand design constraints like muscle contour, placement, skin tone, and so on. They should also have the professionalism to know their skills and limitations.

Then, make your final decision. If you’re ready to make a firm commitment to a memorial tattoo, let the professional artist do their job so that you’ll come away with a positive experience — a piece you treasure that truly represents your most important memories.

Memorial Tattoos: Finding the Right Artist

In light of this last point, I’d really like to ask you to do some research. Look for the right person to take on this really important and meaningful project.

As an artist and businessperson who cares that you’re happy with the work you get, I’d like to invite you to check out my advice about how to choose the artist that’s right for you — click here to read more.