Hand Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

Hand tattoos are almost always visible. You need something that’ll look good and remain relevant for the longest time possible. Find what different placements mean, designs that showcase your personality, themes that best define you, and the best colors to make your ink pop.

Designs and Styles

Hand tattoos can be anything from text spelling “love” and “hate” on your knuckles, to images and symbols.

You can have a general theme to your design, such as gothic, cartoon, or the ever-popular floral patterns. For a flowery style, you may get lone flowers or interlinked blends. The same can be applied for symbols or text—get a single object or multiple combinations for effect.

If the below inspirational ideas don’t tickle your fancy, look at what your tattoo artist’s work or their stock designs. While these aren’t unique, picking an image from something you’ve seen is a great start. You can see how other people have styled their tats and draw inspiration from there. 


Floral designs represent a range of different themes, from love, friendships and relationships, to loss and remembrance. The colors you pick can be set up to represent a mood, feeling, or enhance an already established idea. 

These designs could be used to symbolize jewelry, and are often more feminine. The plants commonly used for hand tats are roses to illustrate love and vines that are fashioned to look like bracelets. Flowers such as lilies, daisies, and tulips can be used to add color, vibrancy, and contrast. 

Butterfly illustrations are common additions to these tats—an attempt to recreate the realism of nature where flowers and butterflies are synonymous.


Pink stars represent breast cancer and breast cancer awareness. They’re popular hand tat symbols among survivors and people who want to show solidarity to the cause. The star can be set on a dark background to make the pink pop and the illustration more conspicuous.

A blue star on the thumb is usually symbolic of the drive to achieve. It’s a common theme among students who may use it to motivate themselves into academic excellence. To emphasize the theme, how about a blue quill running on the side of the finger?


Cartoon-themed illustrations are popular figures among the fun, outgoing types. To enhance the feel-good theme, you can complement the imagery with a fun quote—Walt Disney’s ‘That’s all, folks’ is quite popular. Alternatively, you can combine cartoon figures with their related slogans or names. 


Hands are excellent locations for showy love-themed ink. Common heart designs for this include the arrowed cupid design, winged styles, and lone red hearts. Lovers may also opt to etch each other’s names into the symbol’s core.

Hearts can also represent self-love and balance. Also, they may serve as a reminder to be positive and hold yourself in high esteem. The hand placement leaves the tats exposed so that you always have access to the motivating illustration.


Small creatures like butterflies, bees, and other insects are ideal for these tattoos because even their life-like representations will fit. 

Bees represent drive and loyalty. They’re usually illustrated flying off the hand to bring out the idea that the wearer is self-driven. To emphasize a theme of loyalty, illustrate a couple of bees working together. If the insects are colored, set them on a blue background.

Blue emphasizes the theme of loyalty and contrasts the yellow of the bees for an eye-catching illustration. 


Chain and barbed wire are popular styles because the illustrations can wrap around the fingers, back of the hand, and the wrist. This is more of a masculine tattoo that implies the wearer is tough and protective

Chains around the heart symbol may imply the wearer has been heartbroken before and is now more careful. This can be tweaked into a more feminine look by the use of bright colors. A dash of pink around the heart symbol should do the trick.

Matching Tattoos

These popular tat designs are intended to show the world that two or more people share a bond strong enough to be permanently etched onto their skins. Hands are among the most popular spots for these illustrations because they are showy. Interested groups and individuals go for styles and objects that best illustrate their relationships. 

Below are a few examples:


Couples may get complimentary king and queen tats to imply their bond is royal and unchangeable. They may also etch each other’s names into matching stars or eternity symbols to suggest that their relationship is eternal.

Typically, people get these tattoos on the back of their hands if they want more detail in their illustrations. For smaller designs, lovers often get little matching hearts on their fingers or knuckles.

Couples may also work love quotes or favorite song lyrics into these tats to show dedication to each other. To emphasize the theme, stars, roses, doves, and other love-related designs may be combined with the words.


Parents may get tats of their children’s dates of birth or names to celebrate them. Sometimes, the illustrations are used for immortalizing kids who’ve passed on. In such circumstances, the ink usually features spiritual-themed objects like angel wings, stars, halos, and comforting religious text.

Some members get matching ink of their family crest as a reminder to stay true to each other. Another common design for kin is a small family tree with initials of the members.


Matching illustrations for friends are typically used to mark major events in their relationship. The most common approach is to get dates of each other’s wedding dates, their first spring break together, major achievements, and the like.

Hand Tattoos: Colors and Implications

These tats are showy by placement. The color choice is usually meant to complement or emphasize this feature. 

Red and Blue

These hues are associated with desire and loyalty. They’re common components of matching tats where they emphasize the strength of the bonds.

For sad tattoos, such as those commemorating deceased loved ones, blue is used more than red. This color is more effective in illustrating the emotion.

Red is more prevalent in ink that seeks to celebrate love or embody a group’s desire to remain focused on a shared goal.


This is the color of choice for illustrations meant to celebrate achievement or encourage the wearer towards a goal. It’s also associated with royalty and serves to remind the wearer that they are more than meets the eye—a royal breed, if you please.

Black Ink

If you want a simple symbol or text, black will work. It’s easily visible, and outlines are well pronounced. The black ink can also be used to enhance contrast in an illustration, and make other colors pop.

Common Placements

The hand may look simple and limited, but it’s rich with potential locations for tattoos. Draw inspiration from the examples below.

Side of the Hand

This may be the right place for you if you want something relatively large, but still easy to conceal. Feather tats are complemented by the shape of the area. Go for black ink if you want to conceal the tat without much effort, and bright colors if you’re all about showing your ink.

Back of Hand

This is the most spacious real estate on your hand. It’s best saved for designs that’ll have a little more detail or illustrations that incorporate larger objects. 

Knuckles and Joints

These are the placements for little inconspicuous hand designs. They’re thought to be more masculine locations, but the use of feminine-related symbols like the lotus flower will thin the misconception.


A tattoo is placed between the fingers when the wearer wants control over when the ink is seen. The back of the finger ink is harder to conceal, but the area is relatively more spacious.

Best Hand Tattoos