Mermaid Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning
Mermaids are mystical beings and are often seen as fantastical and pretty, but can also be seen from a different angle—a mix of two things that never should be, creating a monstrosity.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that mermaid tattoos are only for women. Although they’re more popular with the girls, they can have great meaning for guys and be designed to be more masculine.
They’re often fairly colorful and detailed, to portray the beauty and mystery that they represent.
Obviously, mermaids have a strong connection to the sea. This link to nature can represent the beauty of creation, life, death, rebirth and the vastness of the universe. Merpeople are also a striking representation of the unknown and the mysteries that we have yet to learn.
There are stories of these sea-sirens luring sailors to their deaths, so they can also be representative of temptation and sin. A mermaid, as pretty as she is, could be a symbol of hidden danger, sly seduction and unapologetic sexuality.
Women-fish are unusual creatures, so they can be portrayed in just about any style imaginable. You can really get your creative juices flowing and find something that you love.
Cute and Girly
Mermaids are typically seen as womanly creatures. I’m sure every girl dreams of being able to sink under the water and leave the outside world behind sometimes, and having the freedom to travel the seas as you wish.
Cute, cartoon-style mermaids can convey a sense of sweetness, wonder and innocence. They’re perfect for women who long for the beach and feel a strong connection to the ocean.
Realistic and Detailed
The potential for detail on a mermaid depiction is great. Hair, scales and any possible surrounding environment can be textured down to the finest detail.
This style of tattoo shows off the breathtaking beauty of these sea fairies.
Hybrid and Scary
To depict the scarier side of a mermaid, a tat emphasizing their hybrid nature could pull it off pretty well. If you think about it, a cross between a woman and a fish is quite creepy, so these tats are designed to inspire horror rather than to look pretty.
Additions like blood, flesh, extra limbs or missing limbs could up the gore factor of this type of tat. For a reversal, a woman sewing her legs together in an imitation of a mermaid’s tail would give the same feeling.
The quintessential mermaid tat is a picture of the maiden sitting on a rock staring wistfully into the sunset.
If you’re keen to get something different, here are some well-liked designs:
The Little Mermaid was many a girl’s childhood hero. If you used to get lost in the underwater world with Ariel, you might get a tat of her to remind you of the magic of those days.
She’s quite a distinctive character and is recognizable to those who have enjoyed the movie. You can get a little creative in terms of what you have Ariel doing or her environment, but it’s best to stick to her trademark red hair, happy disposition and clam bra.
If you’re keen for something darker to represent some sort of loss of innocence, you can evil her up by turning her into a sailor-luring siren, or simply adding some sea-related elements that would make her more creepy (like a pet shark, have her holding a skull or a zombie-Ariel).
A siren is defined as a beautiful or alluring woman who is also dangerous. In Greek mythology, a siren would entice sailors with her singing, causing them to crash onto the rocks.
Although the original siren had wings and claws, the idea of a lovely sea-maiden serenading sailors to their deaths has become a common one.
If you like the thought of getting a seductive tattoo involving a mermaid, a sea-temptress could work for you.
For men, it could represent their likes or fantasies. For women, it could be a symbol of their own confidence and sexuality.
They’re typically curvy, sparsely covered sea-women, with luxurious, flowing hair and bedroom eyes. Adding claws, having her holding a weapon or surrounding the siren with rocks and crashing waves can indicate the dangers that lurk within her.
With Other Sea Creatures
Nothing speaks of one’s love for the sea like an underwater scene complete with a mermaid and her favorite sea creatures.
Seahorses, anemones, brightly colored fish or patterned seaweed, can all create that magical underwater environment that mermaids often represent.
A scene such as this can be vibrant and energetic, creating a feeling of magic and myth using all the colors of the rainbow.
The addition of other sea creatures could be symbolic of creation, nature and the oneness of all creatures.
You can go for something simple, like a mer-woman holding a seahorse in the palm of her hand. If you want something more epic, get yourself a full ocean scene complete with treasure chest, seaweed and shells on the seabed.
Mix a beautiful woman with a hint of evil and you have a striking image.
You can get quite inventive with this kind of artwork. Something as simple as adding a trickle of blood from her mouth can suggest that something is not quite right.
For something more noticeably evil, go for a mermaid skeleton or zombie. Have your evil maiden gripping an electric eel around the neck as if it were a weapon, or holding the reins of a shackled shark.
Creepy body features will also amplify the evil feeling. Rotting flesh, talons, missing or extra limbs (fish or human), or blood are good additions to this kind of tat.
Mother and Daughter
For those moms and daughters who have a special bond with each other and also with the ocean, mother-daughter mermaid tattoos are a super idea.
These will typically be beautiful, loving mermaids and not the evil variety. A mother mer-woman with a little one can represent the love a mother has for her baby. For a grown daughter, a smaller mermaid representing herself and an older (but of course, still stunning) one representing her mother might be a nice tribute.
For a pin-up with a twist, go for a reverse fish-lady. Instead of a lovely face with a tail, you’ll see a fish’s head with a… lovely bottom half.
Typically, these tats show a provocative pair of legs in a pair of fishnet stockings (of course) and high heels. This one is more for the guys than the girls. For boys who like sailing, fishing and leggy women, this could be a cheeky way of representing all three of those in one.
Mermaids are usually represented in the bright colors of the ocean and its fish.
Vibrant hues represent the joy and beauty of the seas, while going for something darker or duller could be used for a tat with a darker theme.
Blue is often featured in ocean scenes, and colors that pair particularly well with it on a mermaid are red, green and bright pinks and purples. Glittery colors add an extra girly element.
If you’re going for a bit of evil, getting a beautiful sea-maiden in all black can indicate her darker side.
Depending on how you use it, it can also make for a striking piece of artwork with shading and incredible detail.
- Solid, bright colors (to be vibrant)
- Shading, lighter colors (great for detail)
- Watercolor (an unusual but eye-catching effect)
Common Body Placement
Mermaid tattoos can be placed practically anywhere you like.
For bigger pieces of art like ocean scenes or landscapes, the back, thigh, sides and even the chest can work well as canvases. They’re large enough to fit a comprehensive scene without sacrificing any detail.
Smaller mermaid tats can fit just about anywhere. The ankle, wrist and neck are great for tiny pieces.
Forearms and calves work well for medium-sized artworks, as does the small of the back.
If you’re keen to go super tiny, a mermaid silhouette on a finger can be cute and eye-catching.