Patriotic Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning
There are many ways to express your love for your homeland, but few are as loud and proud as patriotic tattoos. Getting a symbol of your country permanently inked onto your body is a sign of love and dedication.
The styles, designs and creativity of a patriotic tat are almost endless. Most of them will include the country’s flag or national symbols in some form, but these can be paired with almost anything.
Some popular designs in the US (many of which can be adapted for any country) include:
- The American flag
- A bald eagle
- Military insignia
- Related phrases
- Country or state shapes
- The Statue of Liberty
- Uncle Sam
Popular Designs and Meanings
What you choose to get tattooed is a very personal choice. Whether you simply love your country or have had a deeply moving military experience, a patriotic tattoo can include whatever you feel best represents the personal meaning behind it.
The American Flag
Nothing shows patriotism quite like the Star Spangled Banner. The red, white and blue pattern is extremely distinctive and needs no introduction. You’ll never need to explain your tat if you go with a flag!
They can be super simple, like a small replica of the flag. If you’re looking for something with a bit more creativity, having a tattoo that looks like your skin is cut or peeling open to reveal the flag beneath it is an awesome way to show that you’re American through and through.
The pattern can be layered over just about anything, so you can add a real American twist to whatever your artwork is.
The bald eagle has been the national bird of America since 1782. Eagles represent strength, power and bravery, so they make the perfect symbol of the country (although not according to Benjamin Franklin).
Eagle tattoos are already striking emblems of strength and leadership, and paired with another patriotic symbol can be a powerhouse of a tattoo.
Eagle tats are commonly seen with the flag, showing two of the most important American icons in one artwork.
For a powerful image, have a detailed eagle’s head on the flag background. If you want something more action-packed, an eagle with spread wings in front of a large US flag or a flying bird holding the flag can be eye-catching.
Countless American citizens have an unshakable bond with their country through their military.
Those who have served may choose to get their particular insignias inked onto them to indicate that they’re military even when they take off the uniform.
Tattoos such as these may include things like names or coordinates to give them a real personal touch.
We thank you for your service!
“We the people”, “In God we trust”, and lines from the Star Spangled Banner are some popular phrases that have a patriotic ring to them.
Get them in conjunction with another item such as a flag, and you’ll have a meaningful and specific piece of body art.
Other lines that may work well include song lyrics, such as Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”, “I’m just living the American dream” from Madonna’s American Life, or a quote from “Red, White and Blue” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Country or State Shapes
Some countries are instantly recognizable by their shape, especially if it’s your own. Those who feel very patriotic may get the outline of America tattooed onto themselves.
Perhaps a more specific idea is to get the shape of your state instead of the whole country. You’re still displaying a love for where you’re from, but with an emphasis on the particular part of the USA in which you live.
The stars and stripes can make a great filling for outlines like these.
Statue of Liberty
Nothing says freedom like the Statue of Liberty, and in the land of the free it would make a meaningful tattoo design.
A portrayal of Lady Liberty would work wonderfully for a large, epic tattoo with plenty of detail and shading. Smaller designs can work, but will be far less detailed than something big.
Although it does make a statement on its own, mixed with a few other patriotic elements, the Statue could make an amazing masterpiece.
Perhaps an eagle flying around the statue, or a flag draped over it. Get creative!
The iconic gray-haired man is the personification of the country, and his “I want you” image is probably one of the best-known and easily recognizable pictures out there.
Although some consider Uncle Sam to be a symbol of blind faith and following without questioning, he is generally accepted to be an emblem of patriotism and the bond between all citizens.
It makes perfect sense that patriotic tattoos are usually inked in the colors of the country they’re representing. Of course, you can be rebellious and get something different to make a statement if you feel like it.
Red, White and Blue
The famous colors of the USA! Any American knows this trio to be representative of their country, so if you’re going to get a tat to show your love for the land you may as well do it in these colors.
The US flag will naturally be done in these three shades, and any object or picture can be done in these hues to give it a distinct American feel.
An eagle sporting these colors in its feathers can be a powerful image. For something more girly, a flower with red, white and blue petals can be a softer yet still striking design.
If you want a single-color tattoo, the popular US emblems are generally iconic enough to be effective in just black.
The Statue of Liberty is one that can be done beautifully in a single color and can achieve super detail by shading.
An eagle, too, can be done in a single color to emphasize the texture of its feathers and beak or claws.
Military insignia is often done in a specific color according to the branch or rank it’s representing. It’s generally frowned upon to get creative with these because you’re showcasing something very particular.
Other than that, you’re free to get an American flag tattooed in pink and purple if you wish. As long as you have a great personal meaning behind it, you can really create some interesting color combinations for your next patriotic tat.
Common Body Placement
Certain tattoo designs lend themselves to being placed on specific parts of the body. Others can fit just about anywhere.
Here are some of the most common body placements:
The back is awesome for large, intricate tattoos. A sizeable flag, eagle, or Statue of Liberty would look amazing spread across the back, especially if it’s very detailed.
If you plan to combine various elements into one piece of art, the back would be a great spot to ink a complicated and widespread piece.
Chest and Ribs
Get your patriotic tattoo over your heart to symbolize your love for your country.
Phrases work particularly nicely on the ribs, and a majestic eagle’s head on the chest places it in a position of authority and notability.
Arm or Hand
The upper arm (or outer shoulder) is another popular area for in-depth tattoos. These may be easier to display than a tat on the back, so many people getting big tattoos may opt for them on the arm instead.
It also makes a great spot for something smaller, such as a lone flag or an Uncle Sam.
If you’re really brave, get a full leg tattooed as if the flag was wrapped around it.
The calf is always a good option for something smaller and simpler, as is the ankle. The foot is a good little canvas too, but it might only make sense if you’re barefoot fairly often or wear shoes that will show it off.
Little tats can be placed virtually anywhere on the body. Behind the ear, on the back of the neck, the inner shoulder, wrists, fingers and the small of the back are popular choices.