If you are spending this time getting inspired and planning your next statement tattoo for men, you would love the ideas we’ve collected for you. Your back is one of the best places to get a tattoo – particularly one that makes a statement. Because the back is one of the widest, flattest and largest parts of the body, it’s an ideal canvas for an eye-catching and complex inking. When it comes to choosing your back tattoo, make sure you pick a design that you’re proud to show off.
1. Tribal Back Tattoo
The tribal tattoo art style uses curved, pointed lines to form unique shapes and designs. Popular in the ’90s, it is still popular today and gives any tattoo a badass and masculine look. It’s an ideal choice for a back tattoo as there are no straight lines involved, so the inking will move with your muscles rather than looking static.
2. Back and Neck tattoo
Collar-style tattoos are a rising trend, so there’s never been a better time to extend your back piece up to your neck. Alternatively, take a more subtle and cool approach by getting a tattoo that starts at the top of your spine and ends at your hairline. From abstract patterns to animals, these inkings make a statement and look badass.
3. Full Back Tattoo
Full back tattoos take a lot of time, money, and pain to complete as they are so large and complex – but they are worth the effort. These tattoos become a work of art and represent a commitment to tattoos, as the wearer can’t see them without the help of mirrors. As a result, they are often the most meaningful and powerful inkings. A full-back tattoo always stands out due to its size and detail.
4. Small Back Tattoo
While large tattoos look great on your back due to the flat surface and space available, smaller designs also work. If you have a minimalist and low-key style – or want a simple, less painful inking – try a small back tattoo. A single word, animal, or meaningful symbol are all popular choices with men around the world. Try an inking on your shoulder blade or middle back, rather than lower down, so the design is more visible.
5. Back and Half Sleeve Tattoo
For a cool and interesting tattoo, choose a design that wraps around your shoulder and onto your back. A popular choice for men is the ‘suit of armor’ tattoo or a pair of wings. Alternatively, you could take your existing shoulder tattoo or half sleeve tattoo to the next level by extending it to your back.
6. Upper Back Tattoo
The upper back continues to be a popular placement for men’s tattoos. As one of the smoothest and flattest areas of the body, the upper back makes a perfect canvas for detailed and complex designs. Many men also choose it as the placement for a name tattoo, as it mimics where a player’s surname appears on a sports jersey. The upper back is one of the most visible places to get a tattoo and will draw focus when you take your shirt off, so be sure to choose a meaningful tattoo that represents you.
7. Cross Back Tattoo
The cross is the holiest symbol in Christianity, which makes it a very popular choice for religious men. Your back offers the ideal canvas for a larger, more detailed cross tattoo design. Incorporate other aspects of your life and heritage into the tattoo by adding details like your favorite Bible verse, names of your loved ones, or patterns like Celtic knots.
8. Wings Back Tattoo
Wing tattoos often have a spiritual meaning, representing becoming a better or more ‘angelic’ person as well as breaking free of problems and setbacks. The back is a popular placement for a wing inking as there is plenty of space for a large, detailed design. Other men choose a back wings tattoo as a tribute to Viking culture; warriors in the Norse society had wings tattooed on their backs so they would be taken to Valhalla, the legendary afterlife.
9. Angel Back Tattoo
Angels can represent many different things to different men. For religious guys, the archangel Michael is a popular choice because he is the leader of the Army of God and represents the fight against evil. Meanwhile, the archangel Gabriel is the messenger of God and represents purity, honesty, and truth. Other men choose a guardian angel tattoo to mark times they overcame the odds or survived a life-threatening situation.
10. Eagle Back Tattoo
When it comes to animal-inspired ink, eagle tattoos are a popular choice for men all over the world. A fierce bird of prey, eagles are known for their ability to soar to great heights as well as hunt with incredible precision. The eagle is the national symbol of the USA, making it a patriotic tattoo choice for American men. While many guys opt for a photorealistic eagle inking, the Old School tattoo art style gives the bird an even more cool and dynamic look.
11. Dragon Back Tattoo
Dragons tattoos are a top-rated piece for men because they are powerful and supernatural creatures. A dragon is also a versatile tattoo option as the design can be shaped to fit your body. For a back placement, you have endless options; a Chinese dragon could curve around your muscles, or a roaring European dragon could breathe fire across your shoulders.
12. Japanese Back Tattoo
Japanese tattooing – known as Irezumi – has a distinctive and eye-catching style. While traditional Japanese tattoos are applied by hand, you can get a similar effect with the conventional needle gun method. Bright colors, bold shading, and meaningful symbols are all classic elements of a Japanese tattoo. For your back piece, choose a combination of animal and nature-inspired designs and work with an artist who specializes in the art style.
13. Spine Tattoo
The spine tattoo has an edgy and unusual vibe. Any linear design will work, from Morse code to moon phases, a quote, or a tree. However, bear in mind that the spine is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo, as the bones and nerves are close to the skin. Try a half-spine tattoo if you are getting your first tattoo, as you can always extend it at another sitting.
14. Phoenix Back Tattoo
The phoenix is a symbol that is relatable for many men. In legends, the powerful, supernatural bird rises from the ashes and is reborn stronger than ever. If you have experienced hardship in life or overcome serious obstacles, a phoenix tattoo is an excellent choice for a tattoo. The image of a phoenix also looks great as a large inking, so it’s perfect for your back.
15. Quote Back Tattoo
Quote tattoos are a great way to express yourself. They also act as a reminder of the things that are most important to you. Choose a line that inspires you from your favorite movie, book, or song – or even a philosophy quote that summarises your feelings about life. Your back offers lots of options for placing a quote tattoo. An interesting choice is to have your artist ink the words down your spine to create a cool visual effect.
16. Badass Back Tattoo
What is considered a badass tattoo depends on the individual. When choosing a badass design, think about the message you want to send with your body art. Do you want your ink to be intimidating, scary, or simply powerful and masculine? Animals like tigers and bears, demons, or weapons could all be incorporated into your badass tattoo.
17. Skull Back Tattoo
Skull tattoos have been a favorite tattoo choice for men for decades. They are one of the most recognizable and powerful symbols. Human skulls are often associated with death and can make for a cool Gothic-style tattoo. Alternatively, some men combine them with flowers to represent the beauty and transience of life. Other design options include animal skulls – often associated with the Old West period – and Mexican sugar skulls.
18. Geometric Back Tattoo
Geometric tattoos – inkings that focus on abstract shapes, lines, and patterns – are becoming more and more popular. You can adapt almost any design inspiration into the geometric art style, too. Plus, patterns are versatile; they can be shaped to fit any body part, are easy to extend over more space, and can be used to cover up unwanted old tattoos.
19. Wolf Back Tattoo
There are many choices for wolf tattoo designs. Because there is more space, your artist can create a unique and complicated design with lots of detail. One popular option is inspired by the ‘two wolves’ story, which describes the battle between good and evil that exists within each person. It’s a powerful and meaningful ink that also looks badass.
20. Lion Back Tattoo
Lions are fierce, proud, powerful, and majestic – which is why they are so popular for men’s tattoos. Guys who identify with those qualities should consider getting a lion tattoo. A back placement allows you to show off the beauty of this majestic creature in its entirety.
Do back tattoos hurt?
Back tattoos sit on the lower end of the pain scale, due to the muscle and fatty tissue across most areas. However, across the ribs and down the spine can be more painful because it's much closer to the bone and nerves. Additionally, the length of the session will also influence the ouch factor. Larger tattoos with lots of detail require going over the same area for hours, increasing the discomfort.
What does a back tattoo mean?
A back tattoo can mean that you're mysterious, or that you're symbolically putting something behind you. However, the placement may not carry any particular meaning, either. The back is a popular location for tattoos because they can be easily covered, and it's an excellent canvas for large designs.
Are back tattoos a good idea?
There are a few things to consider when deciding if a back tattoo is a good idea. Firstly, the back is a much more common and conventional location to get a tattoo. It can be easily covered with a shirt for conservative workplaces and relatives. Next, aftercare can be a bit trickier, as can sleeping thanks to the discomfort. You'll also need to make sure you apply sunscreen adequately if you don't wear a shirt often. Lastly, if you're getting a large design, don't forget to budget, as they can get pricey.
Arabella Roden is a skilled writer and sub-editor with over ten years of experience across print, digital, and B2B. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and specializes in beauty, hairstyles, fashion, tattoos, and lifestyle topics. Arabella is currently the Chief Sub Editor at Mecca Brands and has been writing for The Trend Spotter since 2019.
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