Arrow Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

Arrow tattoos have been around for centuries. At first, this design was commonly seen in Native American tribes as a symbol of hunting and war. Recently, it has gained traction among people from all walks of life for its versatility in design and meaning. 

From inner strength to unbreakable bonds of friendship, arrow tattoos can have all kinds of meanings and can be interpreted in multiple ways.

Popular Arrow Tattoo Designs

There are lots of different types of arrow tattoos. Whether you’re into traditional artwork or a modern, minimalist style, there’s a design for you. Here are a few common designs:

  • Single arrow
  • Twin arrows
  • Broken arrows
  • Multiple arrows
  • Minimalist arrows
  • Realistic arrows
  • An arrow in a bow

The Meaning Behind an Arrow Tattoo

From friendship to heartbreak and inner strength, the meanings behind arrow tattoos are as varied as the people who wear them. 

Single Arrow

A single arrow can represent many different things. For some, it might represent a good sense of direction in life. For others, it might represent love or strength. This is a chic design that’s easy to adapt to your tastes: it looks great in any art style. 

Single arrows are easily combined with other shapes and motifs to make a unique, deeply personal design. It’s easy to customize, which is a big reason why it’s so well-loved.

Twin Arrows

A set of two crossed arrows may represent a strong bond between two people, like a great friendship or true love. This is a popular matching tattoo for friends and couples. 

The design looks great with or without color. People often add other elements, such as compasses or roman numerals, to make their tattoo feel more personal.

Broken Arrows

A broken arrow may represent a broken heart or it might symbolize a desire to resolve problems without physical conflict. They are popular designs in many different art styles, from traditional to tribal and even watercolor.

Multiple Arrows

Multiple arrows are usually symbolic of a person’s strength and readiness for different situations in life. They can also represent unification.

A bundle of arrows in a quiver could show readiness for war, but it can also stand for love and even children or fertility.

Minimalist Arrows

Minimalist designs are fashionable among young women. Minimalist arrows combined with other designs are especially trendy. Flowers, compasses and geometric designs are combinations that have stood the test of time. Choose minimalist arrows for simplicity, inner strength, and positivity. 

Realistic Arrows

Realistic arrows are often considered a masculine design. But they work equally well on women. This tattoo could show your power, tenacity, dedication or even your good sense of direction!

Arrow in a Bow

The arrow in a bow is a beautiful tattoo that has a deep meaning: an arrow can only be propelled forward when it’s first pulled backward. This tattoo serves as a reminder that whenever life pulls you backward, it will soon propel you forward into a better situation.

History of the Arrow Tattoo

The arrow tattoo has been around for hundreds of years. Native Americans were some of the first to wear these tattoos on their bodies. They symbolized a hunting tool that was essential to their survival. These tattoos also displayed notions of war, preparedness, and vision. 

Native Americans were not the only people to tattoo arrows on their bodies. Civilizations around the globe used them to represent unity, warfare, and strength. 

Arrow tattoos in the “Sailor Jerry” art style have been popular since the 1950s. Today, this fashionable design is inked in every style. It’s gained popularity among people from all walks of life because of its simplicity and deep meaning.


Arrow tattoos are regularly done in black and white. Though some are in color, black, white and greyscale remains the most popular choice because it’s simple and helps the details of the design stand out.

Many of these tattoos are combined with other black and white design elements. Though these are occasionally filled in with colored ink, they tend to be colorless. Minimalist art is one style that usually has no color.

Tattoos done in the traditional style often have bold lines and bright colors. The same is true of watercolor designs, which incorporate splashes of vibrant colors surrounding the arrow. 

The arrowhead, shaft, and fletching (feathers) are sometimes colored as well. Blue, red, and purple are the most popular color choices.

Popular Placement

Some of the most popular placements for an arrow tattoo are:

  • The arms
  • The wrist
  • On the ankle or foot
  • On the side of the body
  • The legs
  • The chest


The arms are by far the most popular place for an arrow tattoo. Most of these tattoos run the length of the arm, and some have other motifs incorporated into the shaft, like quotes or the phases of the moon. 

The forearm has a lot of area for the design to cover, and it doesn’t hurt as much as other options.


The wrist is a fashionable place for a small tattoo. It’s easy to cover up when you need to and it’s visible when you want it to be. Tattoos on the wrist generally symbolize personal guidelines and forward motion. That symbolism fits well with the meaning of a single arrow.

Ankle or Foot

The ankle and the side of the foot are two great places to put an arrow tattoo. They generally symbolize moving forward in life. A tattoo on the ankle or the foot is subtle, and you can show it off or cover it up easily whenever you want. 

Side of the Body

Though not as popular as a tattoo on the forearm, the side of the body is the ideal spot for an arrow tattoo. Bundles of arrows look great as do single arrows running the length of the torso. Minimalist arrow designs are especially popular in this location.


Like forearm tattoos, arrows on the back of the leg are popular. So are arrows going through the knee—a design that typically means marriage or true love. This is another placement that can be easily displayed or covered depending on your needs. 


Arrows on the chest are trendy. There are lots of different ways to wear this design here: a single arrow pointed towards your heart, two crossed arrows, or a broken arrow to symbolize peace (or a broken heart). Tattoos on your chest give your artist a large canvas to work with.

Complimentary Designs

Arrow tattoos are super versatile and go well with many different elements. When it comes to creating your own design, there’s no limit to how innovative you can get. 

Here are a few ideas that work well with arrows to get you started:

  • Compasses
  • Flowers
  • EKG Lines
  • Roman numerals
  • Infinity symbol
  • Geometric shapes
  • Feathers
  • Quotes
  • Hearts
  • Names of loved ones
  • Moon phases

Getting a tattoo is a creative process so don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild. Sketch your own designs and show your artist to give them an idea of what you want—the creative process is one of the best parts of getting new ink!

Things to Consider When Getting a Tattoo

There are a few points worth considering when getting new ink, especially if it’s your first time. 

First, what does the tattoo mean to you? It could be that you’re just getting a tattoo because you like the design, and that’s okay. A tattoo doesn’t have to carry a profound meaning. On the other hand, your tattoo might carry significant meaning for you, and that’s also okay.

Second, are you in love with the design? Don’t get something tattooed on your body that you aren’t absolutely in love with. The last thing you want is to regret your tattoo several years down the road. Take your time consulting with your artist. It’s important to get something inked on your body that you’ll always love looking at. 

Finally, consider the placement of the tattoo. Some areas hurt a bit more than others, and some will look better with your chosen design. This is really important if you will need to cover the tattoo, as well. You’ll want to chat with your artist to make sure your tattoo is in the perfect spot for you.

Best Arrow Tattoos