Octopus Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

The octopus is often linked with individual depth and the secrets of the sea. It’s been a meaningful sea creature for many years and has a prominent place in many cultures. 

Octopus tattoos are popular for symbolic as well as aesthetic reasons. Most of the qualities of the animal come from their unique talents. For example, the octopus can change colors based on its surroundings. It also employs this skill to hunt for its food and hide from predators. 

In particular, the ability to change colors can be used to represent the human characteristics of creativity and adaptability. But there’s much more to octopus tattoos than you might think.

Octopus Tattoos: Meanings

Octopus tattoos can represent different cultures or characteristics for each wearer:

  • Intelligence
  • Growth
  • Resilience
  • Adaptability
  • Biblical meaning


The octopus is the smartest of all invertebrates. It has a large brain and eight arms that have their own intelligence. According to scientists, the sea creature evolved intelligence to help it find prey and dodge predators.

In addition to this, octopi can camouflage themselves by imitating the color of their environment. This can make them a perfect symbol for disguise when worn as a tattoo. 


Octopi can detach their tentacles to escape capture and have the ability to regrow them.

What’s more, these sea creatures feature in the art of Minoan culture, a Bronze Age civilization on Aegean islands. Octopi appeared on their vases and bowls, which depicted these creatures spreading their arms. This was a symbol of the expansion and growth of the universe.

As such, an octopus tattoo could mean personal development and growth.


Octopi are fierce animals and can withstand extensive damage but still survive. They symbolize resilience because they reside in a harsh environment that we wouldn’t be able to endure, and their regeneration abilities can overcome injuries even when their defense mechanisms fail them.

An octopus tattoo can mean the strength to conquer setbacks or obstacles.


Octopi are invertebrates, so have squishy, soft bodies, and no protective shells or skeletons. This allows them to pass through small holes and cracks easily.

In addition to this, they have developed defensive and offensive techniques to avoid predators and hunt for food. They have poisonous saliva, and most squirt dark ink when threatened, to protect themselves.

An octopus tattoo could mean that you consider yourself resilient and adaptable.

Biblical Meaning

The Bible sees this aquatic animal as a devil from the sea. The idea is that the devil wraps your mind in a cloud of darkness and prevents you from seeing enlightenment.

It blurs the line between good and evil. Individuals who’ve had a troubled past and have discovered the light might have an octopus tattoo on their arms.

Octopus Tattoos: Popular Designs

Octopus tattoos are for brilliant and courageous individuals with strong willpower and a strong character. An octopus tattoo is for you if you find this sea-dwelling creature attractive and are fascinated by the way it changes colors to escape enemies.

Octopi make for really amazing tattoos, with a lot of room for creativity in design.

Here are some of the most popular octopus tattoo designs.

Octopus and Anchor 

Both the anchor and the octopus are associated with the sea’s depths and with sailing. In most of these tats, the animal’s arms are wrapped around the anchor.

The anchor can represent a stable and secure person who’s confident in their self-image, staying true to their values. Additionally, it can symbolize safety because the function of the anchor is to prevent the ship from drifting.

Tribal Octopus

The aquatic animal frequently appears in the legends of Polynesian tribes regarding family, commerce, and migration connections. 

In terms of meaning, tribal octopus tattoos are incredibly customizable. Ideas are conveyed not only through the octopus, but also through the symbols and patterns employed in their designs.

For example, a row of interlocking shark teeth represents guidance, strength, adaptability, and protection, whereas a row of interlocking spearheads signifies courage and strength.

Tribal designs are an ideal choice for octopus shoulder tattoos. Why? The upper arm and top of your shoulder make up a popular location for tribal octopus tattoos since the curvature of this space complements the design flow.

Japanese Octopus

This tattoo design is a combination of a realistic octopus tattoo filled with energetic colors. This design gives artists more leeway in terms of creativity, allowing them to incorporate more elements from Japanese culture. 

Blue-Ringed Octopus Tattoo

The blue-ringed octopus is small and one of the most dangerous species of octopus. It contains a venom called tetrodotoxin, which is powerful enough to kill humans. 

This neurotoxin is 1,000 times more dangerous than cyanide. 

This tattoo design is often linked with naturally aggressive individuals. So, getting a blue-ringed octopus tattooed on your body will let people know that you aren’t a weak target. 

Realistic Octopus

Having a realistic octopus tattoo is a good option for nature lovers, environmental defenders, and conservationists. Your tattoo artist should incorporate all the details and colors of the octopus in the design. 

They may include other beautiful sea creatures in an underwater habitat design. Proper placement and attention to detail are essential when using this kind of design.

The chest and back are the best places to wear a realistic octopus tattoo as they provide sufficient space for the tattoo artist to expand the tentacles.

Cartoon Octopus Tattoo

Having a cartoon-like octopus is a good option for you if you want to make a nod to pirate or high-seas culture. You can incorporate human-like traits, such as a treasure chest, an eyepatch, or hook into your octopus design. 

Mix animal and human elements in your octopus tattoo design to make it really special and unique. 

Color Combinations for Octopus Tattoos

You can wear octopus tattoos in natural, bright, or neutral colors, either accompanied by other aquatic animals or alone.

The blue-ringed octopus-inspired tattoo designs are colorful, from green and yellow to blue. These tattoos make a symbolic and striking masterpiece irrespective of your concept and desired tattoo size. 

The most-used colors for Japanese octopus are blue and purple. Tribal octopus tattoos, on the other hand, tend to use only black ink. 

The ability to change colors according to its surroundings allows the tattoo artist to present the design in a rainbow of colors. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to choose the right combination of colors, such as red, green, orange, and blue to bring out the meanings of octopus tattoos.

Placement Ideas for Octopus Tattoos

Chest and Back

The chest and the back are the best spots for larger tattoos because the large surface area allows the tattooist to create larger designs with a background and more elements. These areas will enable the artist to emphasize the tentacles, which are one of the striking features of this sea creature. 

You can place the octopus on your lower back and allow its tentacles to coil around your hips and move up the spine. The tentacles can be wrapped across shoulders, down the inside and outside of the arms, and around the waist.

Plus, you can incorporate other elements of the octopus’s environment, such as the ocean floor and other bottom-dwelling plants and animals, into the design to make it more striking and impressive.

Legs, Arms, and Hands

The legs, arms, and hands are ideal for medium-sized tattoos. These places have ample space for details. An octopus and anchor design would go nicely on your bicep with the anchor weighing down the animal, tentacles flailing behind it up to your shoulder.

Ankles and Wrists

Smaller tattoos look great on the ankles and the wrists. Small and powerful, a blue-ringed octopus design would be an ideal size for your wrist. A cartoon-style tat has no restrictions on dimensions and can be as big or as small as you require, perfect for a little area such as your wrist.

Best Octopus Tattoos