Heart Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

The heart tattoo is synonymous with life and love. Often, the ink is designed after the symbolic representation of the organ, rather than the real thing. This is because, where an accurate depiction may prove too graphic for some, the symbol’s harmless enough to feature prominently in kid shows and cartoons.

Heart tattoos can express a wide array of ideas. In popular culture, illustrations of the organ are used to portray different emotions, ranging from love and bravery to heartbreak and misery. With a few alterations, the design can help emphasize different ideas.

The Heart’s Symbolic Importance

The heart symbol is a popular cultural phenomenon. It’s usually red and vibrant, but alterations can be made to make it exhibit darker or more humorous meanings. Apart from this universal design, some people prefer to have their tats mimic the real thing as much as possible.

Whatever your taste, learn more about the modifications you can make to add new meaning to the ink or enhance an underlying theme:

Love and Peace

This organ is inexplicably tied to the concept of love and all matters of the heart. It’s a popular choice among lovers looking to get matching tats, the sorrowful soul, and anyone looking to preach a message of love and unity.

This shape’s rich symbolism makes it an exceptionally popular design for adding detail to existing ink.

The Ultimate Life Force

Ancient Egyptians considered the heart to be the center of our life force. It’s also the source of some of the most intense magnetic fields generated by our body, which is why it serves as a symbol of our very essence.

This symbol is a celebration of life. Depending on the setting, it can be used to mourn lost love, celebrate a life well-lived, and demonstrate loyalty.

Virility and Stability

The reason we see heart rate monitors included in our smartwatches these days is because of the incredible relationship between our heart health and our overall vitality. That’s why the heart tat is easily interpreted as a symbol of good health and well-being.

This organ has long been considered a symbol for virility and stability, and if these are values that are important to you, then a heart tattoo is the way to go.


The heart symbol is commonly used to represent passion. If you’re passionate about something or someone, you can incorporate heart shapes and meanings into tattoo designs.

A good and common example is when loved ones’ names are encapsulated within a heart. The heart can be modified with wings or a flame to emphasize the theme.


The heart is also one of the most important spiritual centers of the body. Eastern philosophy has long recognized it as an important energy center, that, alongside our brain, dictates the overall functioning of our autonomous systems. This is now proven by the scientific community, as well.

Thus, some of those who feel a deep connection to their spirituality may hold the heart symbol dear. Getting the symbol tattooed onto their skin helps immortalize this bond.

Popular Heart Tattoo Designs

Since the heart tattoo is a highly versatile symbol, there’s a lot of room for experimentation with this style of tattoo. The following list includes some interesting ideas for you to play with when designing your tattoo.

Budding, Blossoming, Broken, or Black Hearts

The heart tattoo can be used to denote any stage of love. The budding or blossoming stage of love can be symbolized with a design that’s decorated with a rose or other natural elements. You can also use a flaming variation to emphasize your passion.

A broken heart represents heartache, and it can be stylized with fragments or cracks within the symbol. You can also use a dagger for a similar effect.

A black version represents death or mourning, acting as a striking visual portrayal of your grief. A bleeding heart can also be used to immortalize your immense grief.

Matching Hearts

There are many variations of a couples’ tattoo for you to choose from, including matching red hearts in identical spaces of your body, a heart-shaped lock and key, and hearts embedded with an infinity symbol.

Heart Banner Tattoos

These tattoos include a beautiful banner placed at the center of the heart symbol, with enough room for a short and powerful message. You can use this space to speak your heart out and offer a fitting tribute to a passion from your life.

Hyper-Realistic Hearts

A different angle worth exploring when getting this type of tattoo is to opt for a hyper-realistic version of the heart, instead of the age-old symbol that we often use. These tattoos tend to look quite graphic, but that’s the kind of look that bolder tat enthusiasts may want.

If you love this design but are concerned about offending the squeamish observer, have it done in the chest cavity. This location makes for a creative illustration and is easy enough to cover when you head out in public. If you want it exposed, opt for dark colors and avoid the red that gives the art a realistic appeal.

Common Heart Tattoo Colors and Styles

It goes without saying that red is the most authentic and popular color associated with this type of tattoo, but there are plenty of other novel options as well. While black hearts represent loss and mourning, white variations tend to denote peace and tranquility.

If you’re going for a traditional red tattoo, shades of green, yellow and blue tend to best match this style. Tribal symbols can also be included in contrasting colors to make the red pop out.

When designing a large tattoo on the heart, you can also choose to keep the background black and white and opt for a bright red centerpiece.

Common Heart Tattoo Placements

Metaphorical Heart on Your Sleeve

It might be a bit of a cliché to wear your heart on your sleeve, but clichés sometimes work well with illustrations. Setting this tattoo near your heart or chest plate can also seem like an overdone idea, but when executed properly, it can be a striking symbol.

By the Beat

Another great location for this tattoo includes those areas that are commonly used to check an individual’s pulse, such as the carotid artery by the side of your windpipe. Other examples include the wrist and the skin by your ear.

Back or Chest

The biggest real estate on your body is located on your chest and back, allowing for elaborate tattoos. These spots are often reserved for the most personal and comprehensive tattoos, and so a heart-related piece can be a nice addition.

Your close family and friends can be immortalized in this space using intricate designs, which can highlight the nature of your relationship to them.

The Limbs

While the limbs aren’t prime real estate for tattoos, they’re the showiest part of town. Tattoos on your arms, in particular, are usually visible to everyone around you, which is why most people tend to place slightly less personal, but highly attractive, tattoos in these regions.

If your heart tattoo is driven by qualities you’d like to put out for the world to see, then your arms and legs are the areas to opt for.

Best Heart Tattoos