It's an iconic design, to be sure, because of its brilliance, boldness, and absolute beauty. Big and lush, full of dense fat petals drooping with the colors of sunset: red, orange, yellow with blushing pale peaches and pinks. Rose tattoos will never get old. They stand for a timeless beauty that never fades and, if done right, never fails to delight. In this collection, we've brought together not only some stand-alone roses, but also some bright blooms decorated with other classic iconography such as skulls, daggers, and, of course, the lovely faces of ladies. We’ll also let you know the meanings and myths behind these pieces, as well as popular placements, most popular colors, and more. We know that rose tattoos are a trend that never dies, and these pieces here show exactly why.
Rose Tattoo Meaning and Mythology
There are many myths and legends surrounding the creation of the rose. Its beauty, its fragrance, even the thorns have stories that explain the conception of this glorious flower. These rose tattoos are awesome embodiments of humans' constant attraction to a flower that has had everyone smitten since the dawn of time.
But why are roses, and rose tattoo meanings, usually matched with ideas of love and romance? "In mythology, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, was often depicted with roses adorning her head, feet, and neck. This can be interpreted many ways, but the association comes from a rose bush that grew within a pool of blood spilled by her slain lover, Adonis, and so a common interpretation is that the rose symbolizes an immortal love that withstands time and even death." But the history of this flower doesn't end there…
The Roman myth behind the birth of the elegant rose begins with Flora, Goddess of Spring and Flowers, walking through the lush lands under her rule. Of course, part of the allure of the rose is its danger, like a real femme fatale, so it only makes sense that the rose would flourish under the hand of Flora by way of a corpse. The Goddess Flora, finding her most favorite and treasured nymph lying cold among the blades of grass, called upon the other Gods to turn the nymphs body into a flower. The myth continues that Apollo breathed life into the bloom, while Bacchus gave her the flowing fruits of nectar, and Vertumnus, God of seasons, gardens, and growth, bestowed the rose with her intoxicating fragrance.
"The legend of the red rose’s creation continued into Roman mythology where Venus took the place of Aphrodite. Wealthy Romans reportedly filled their bedchambers with bouquets of roses to provide a soft, pleasant-smelling surface for their amorous encounters. It was a symbol of love and beauty associated with the goddess, but also came to stand for secrecy after Cupid offered a rose to the God of Silence to keep quiet Venus’s affairs. In fact, Roman dining room ceilings were decorated with roses to urge guests to keep quiet about what was said at dinner, and “sub rosa” or “under the rose” still means “confidentially” today."
But it isn't only Greeks and Romans who have been enamored by the bloom. "In Christianity, the red rose became the symbol of the Virgin Mary dating back to the third century AD. At that time, Saint Ambrose believed the Garden of Eden was full of thornless roses, which gained their thorns after the fall and symbolized Original Sin. Because of this, the Virgin Mary is often referred to as the “rose without thorns.”
And even Eastern traditions have specific ideas about the power of the rose. "An ancient Arabic legend also links roses to romance and the literal effect of one’s heart’s blood. The legend states that a nightingale fell in love with a white rose. The love was so intense that it caused the nightingale to sing for the first time and overwhelmed by his love, the nightingale pressed itself to the rose, a thorn piercing its heart and turning the flower red with its blood. The nightingale pined for the rose so badly, it sacrificed its life, creating an enduring link between one’s heart’s blood and intense feelings of love and romance. These legends are extremely ancient, dating back to some of the most ancient civilizations, thus tying the rose to romance from the earliest days of humanity."
Pretty powerful stuff...not to mention Shakespeare, and numerous other writers or poets who have penned sonnets in the name of love for the rose. So, perhaps all of these ancient and old ideals make our obsession with these designs that much more understandable...plus, these stories can serve as a whole lot of rose tattoo idea inspiration.
Most Popular Colors for Rose Tattoos
It's interesting to note that not only do roses always mean love and beauty, but each color of rose has its own special meaning!
Red Rose Tattoo: The traditional red rose tattoo symbolizes love and passion. A pink rose represents grace, gratitude, and affection while purple roses have been used to symbolize royalty and enchantment.
Blue Rose Tattoo: The blue rose tattoo depicts a bloom that is rare in nature, so it can represent the unattainable or impossible.
Yellow Rose Tattoo: A yellow rose tattoo traditionally represents friendship, luck, and joy. This particular bud has also come to be tied to the history of Texas, from the nickname of Amarillo as well as the Battle of San Jacinto...but it is also the name of a very famous country folk song too!
Black Rose Tattoo: A black rose tattoo can be a metaphor for death, mourning, and grief but keep in mind that Blackwork is also just a really popular style right now...the particular color of a rose may not define its meaning unless the person who carries it with them always had a specific concept in mind that they wanted to imbue their piece with.
Black and White Rose Tattoo: Black and white rose tattoos, or black and grey, may not have any meaning specifically attached to their color but this piece is classic, especially if done in the style of Chicano illustrative, but usually, people get this color combo because of the aesthetic, not for the actual symbolism of the tint.
White Rose Tattoo: A white rose tattoo can be an aesthetic choice, or a meaningful one. White roses tend to symbolize purity or magic. Using white ink in different ways can produce an interesting and powerful piece...most people who get white rose tattoos may want something either realistic, or the tattoo may be done completely in white ink so that it will be less noticeable than other tattoos with black or vivid colors.
Remember there are also differences in meaning depending on what the rose is accompanied by. Putting together different flowers with varied colors, meanings, and details can create a rose tattoo that is unique for you. A skull or dagger, often omens of death, may turn that rose tattoo from a simple bud of life to an object d' memento mori: a reminder that life must always end, no matter how beautiful. It's also worth noting that the number of petals can be connected to numerology, and whether a rose is open or closed may also change the meaning behind it. It's details like this that make tattoos so special. It’s not only due to the power of their aesthetics, but also the power of their symbolism.
Most Popular Placements for Rose Tattoos
You'd probably guess pretty easily that the most popular placements for rose tattoos are spots that will, most definitely, be statement pieces. In short, these areas get a lot of attention and stand out from other body parts that are deemed less of a commitment. Can you guess what they are? The most popular placement has actually been known, in the past, to cost a few cool kids their jobs: rose hand tattoo ideas are the top searched. Getting one of these babies is saying to the world that you are super devoted to the art of tattooing. And we figure that rose tattoos are actually a good way to go with this because who can get pissed about a big beautiful rose? It doesn't offend anyone, isn't necessarily gang-related, nor does it have to have a meaning...you can do it in any style, and as long as your artist is really good, you know you'll get something great. It's a flower that never dies or wilts! And everything you touch will be blessed by this beautiful bloom. But if the hand is a bit much, maybe a rose finger tattoo or a rose tattoo on wrist designs is the way to go. You know your limit, and your future life goals, we hope, so we'll leave that choice up to you.
Moving up from the hand is another favored spot: rose forearm tattoo ideas are also highly searched. In fact, rose tattoo on arm designs are something that many people want to get because they are so varied...you can put these flowers as the main design, or as part of a bigger concept. And since an arm piece, or sleeve, takes up such a large, long area it helps to create your tattoo from a few really powerful pieces...roses included. We've also seen rose shoulder tattoo ideas that work so well in that area because of the natural shape of the flower: the shoulder can be an odd space to fill up, but because the petals can be formed to be perfectly round, or to gracefully drape onto your clavicle or upper back, this makes it really easy to work with.
Another statement piece is surely a rose chest tattoo. Again, the symbolism, meaning, and historical allure behind this particular flower makes it perfect to be illustrated on its own, or as part of a bigger design. As for chest tattoos, you may want to choose something a bit more complicated and then adorn it with these buds. You can also get a rose neck tattoo and merge that seamlessly with your chest piece, especially if you use the flowers as a way to bring the concept altogether. Neck tattoos are a big commitment, but you can never go wrong with a big lush rose.
If you're looking for something a bit more undercover, we suggest a rose thigh tattoo or a rose hip tattoo. These areas aren't as noticeable and it can be very easy to either show them off or cover them up. We really love tattoos that are versatile, and placement can be a big part of that. So, perhaps, before getting inked, make sure you know where you want this piece and what that placement means. Do you have dreams of becoming an English teacher in Tokyo? What about a lawyer for the supreme court in Washington D.C.? Then a neck or hand tattoo is probably not your best bet. Keep things like that in mind and you'll be happy with your piece for a lifetime.
Rose Tattoos for Women
When trying to conceive ideas for a rose tattoo for women, we had to admit that it's really hard to define. No matter what, whoever gets the tattoo will influence the design with their natural tastes, their personal style, their idea of perception of what is beautiful or makes for a good piece. A rose tattoo design never has to follow any preconceived notions: your tattoo should be just for you. Remember that a tattoo will certainly last longer than the trend that sparked it, or influences it today. Maybe you want to make sure that you're simply celebrating the allure of this particular flower, or perhaps you have an idea, emotion, or memory that you want to memorialize through ink. Think about what you want your piece to say, and let yourself be drawn to the tattoo style that you naturally find yourself looking at the most. Do you want small rose tattoos, or do you want to devote a large part of your body to this bloom? This, too, can impact the final design. But keeping all this in mind will help create a rose tattoo that you can be proud of and love for a lifetime.
Rose Tattoos for Men
Much like ideas for rose tattoos for women, a design for a rose tattoo for men can be absolutely anything. Although there may be some things that tattoo artists won't want to do because they know it won't heal or settle well, there is almost no limit to the reach of your imagination. A rose tattoo design may be done in dark art illustrative style or it may be only a detail, rather than the full picture. It could be a ship at sea surrounded by blooms, a woman with a rose cradled in the waves of her hair...it could be a replication of the famed Dali painting that spotlights the flower...it could literally be anything. It's totally up to you. So, how do you get to the idea and then to the design? Think about where you want it, how big you want it; does it take up your entire chest or is it a cool filler between larger pieces in your collection? Do you want just a straight-up rose tattoo, or does your rose tattoo include animals, a portrait, or other really cool design elements? What tattoo style really resonates with you? Do you want brutal Blackwork or bold Neo-Traditional? Knowing all these things will not only help spark the idea for an awesome tattoo but it will also help you find the perfect artist and tattoo studio to do the job.
Small Rose Tattoo
In this guide to rose tattoos, we’ve mostly talked about pretty large projects, but many small rose tattoo ideas exist. We’ve seen so many cute little flowers used as fillers between the other tattoos people have collected, but this design can also be perfect for first-timers, or for people who want to delicately adorn their body with a simple rose tattoo that doesn’t take up too much space. Another thing you should keep in mind, however, with small rose tattoos is that it’s best they don’t have a whole lot of detail...we’ve seen some really unique rose outline tattoo ideas that are perfect for fingers, ear accents, or similar. The only exception to small tattoos without tons of detail, really, are tattoo artists who specialize in tiny tattoos, Fineline tattoos or single needle tattoos. These artists can usually do something pretty awe-inspiring, even if what you want is a really small rose tattoo.
Rose Thorn Tattoos
Rose tattoos capture the many concepts seen within the myths that surround her...and it's incredible that such a lovely creature would span a vast many emotive ideas so seamlessly. Life and death, beauty and brutality commingle quietly under the soft petals, for what would a rose be without its thorns? This bountiful piece of nature must protect herself somehow…
Many a quote has been said about the rose and the thorn...including poet and writer Anne Bronte's "But he who dares not grasp the thorn / should never crave the rose.” As well as Alphonse Karr, French critic, and journalist, who said, "We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” So we thought this collection of thorn tattoos was highly appropriate since we can draw comparisons between these quotes about actual thorns, and the pain of the tattoo. Just like the beauty of a rose is worth the pain of the thorn, the beauty of a tattoo is also worth the pain...and we promise your ink will last longer than the life of a flower.
Each of these rose tattoos exemplifies a different style, a different design...they show that although rose tattoos are a timeless and gorgeous concept, there are many ways to adapt it. Just as there are many myths, there are many reasons why people are so attracted to this lavish flower. If you find yourself inspired by these pieces and would like to get your own, check out our app for artists and shops near you. We always try to bring you the highest quality, and these rose tattoos are no different.