Pamela Anderson‘s barbed wire tattoo was the pinnacle of 90s pop culture. She made these designs popular when she got her arm inked in 1995 for the movie Barb Wire. This might be news to you if you were not around 30 years ago, but whether or not you understand the reference, you have likely seen plenty of barbed wire tattoos in public today. Tattoo enthusiasts have caused a resurgence of these designs, making them as trendy as ever.
“There’s definitely been a resurgence of ’90s tattoo trends… just as there has been with fashion and music. Like all trends, I think things become ‘retro’ after about 30 years and become cool again,” Hot Copper Studio tattoo artist Clare Clarity told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Yes, barbed wire tattoos are back in a big way. If you are considering getting one but aren’t sure of the right direction, you’ve come to the right place. We have dozens of fresh ideas to share with you!
Undoubtedly, the most popular style of barbed wire tattoo is shaped like a heart. We saw so many different kinds while researching tattoos for this list. This is the first but won’t be the last you will see.
Must Love Spiders
A spider has made a home in this barbed wire tattoo shaped like a heart. Take a look at how fine the lines for the webbing are. Very impressive!
Lady face tattoos have been and will always be popular designs. They’re not as common among barbed wire tattoos as you might expect. We loved this cowgirl with the barbed arch over top.
Purple and Gold
Black ink is the most popular option for barbed wire tattoos, but that’s not a rule. In fact, we encourage you to break the rules when developing your design. Purple and gold look rather cheerful together.
My Furry Valentine
Mostly heart-shaped barbed wire tattoos are empty, but on some occasions, they will be completely filled. This puppy portrait is as adorable as they come.
Across the Chest
Barbed wire proves a versatile design element that can be shaped to accentuate any part of the body. Draped across the chest is a mildly popular option but around knees, elbows, and ankles are also popular.
Pairing softer subject matter with your barbed wire tattoo creates contrast. With their soft textures, butterflies and flowers work well if you’re into this pairing.
A micro trend among barbed wire tattoos today is to make the tattoo look as lifelike as possible. Here’s a realist approach that shows just a small piece of wire. But inside, it’s packed with detail.
On the other end of the spectrum are barbed wire tattoos that appear more abstract and stylized. Don’t you think this example looks so expressive?
Double Arm Band
Barbed wire works well to create bands around the arms, legs, wrists, and ankles. Band tattoos are and have been a popular style for decades. We’re rather fond of this tidy example.
Barbed wire tattoos only emerged as a trend in the 1990s, and it was not all that common among traditional designs. The artist who completed this tattoo has gone for a completely traditional look that somehow reads as fresh and creative.
Razor-sharp lines have been employed for this delicate barbed wire tattoo that is extra crispy. Request a lighter touch from your tattoo artist for something similar.
Okay, not going to lie. This looks creepy to us. A smiley face in barbed wire should make us grin, but all we want to do is grimace. Most barbed wire tattoos are larger in scale but you can make your design as small as you like.
Hot pink sings next to a polka-dot heart and gash. It’s almost cute! We love a barbed wire tattoo that doesn’t take its assignment too seriously.
How about a touch of sparkle? This barbed wire tattoo is classic heart-shaped but has a flirty eye inside. Little sparkles around make it look even more magical.
Barbed Wire Thorns
As we mentioned with the butterfly example, the soft petals of flowers offer tons of contrast next to barbed wire. This glorious rose looks so much tougher than it would have with a standard stem.
A Different Kind of Heart
We find an anatomical heart in the barbed wire tattoo. The wire is squeezing the heart, which was a choice!
If you’re not married to black ink, you can have much fun with color. We find a silver barbed wire heart with pink flames inside and a tiny crescent moon. White ink has been used as highlight for the wire to make it look reflective.
Here’s an adorable Pride tattoo that finds barbed wire as an eyebrow over a rainbow eye with rainbow tears. It’s one of the most unconventional Pride tattoos we have seen, and it’s a blast.
This barbed wire tattoo wraps around the arm a couple of times and features teeth hanging from the wire. “Why?” You might ask. We have no idea! Tattoos are the supreme form of self-expression so you get to make the rules.
As a Cross
We only saw a couple of barbed wire tattoos in the shape of a cross, but we think it looks fantastic. If you want to express your faith, barbed wire would be a unique way to go.
Here’s another example of a barbed wire tattoo about realism. The artist has pulled this off so well. Find an artist with a portfolio that includes this design style, and you could walk away with something equally as breathtaking.
Okay! This heart barbed wire tattoo is dripping with blood and has the word “anxious” in rainbow lettering below. Convention has been kicked to the curb with this design that’s wildly singular.
Lean into your weirdness, folks. It always pays to put more effort into your design to develop something that no one else can claim. Who else is walking around with a pink barbed wire tattoo in the shape of a heart with a blue-skinned person with a vortex eye? Nobody! That’s beautiful.
Swallow and Wire
Finally, we’ve got an elegant piece that finds a gorgeously tattooed swallow tangled into barbed wire. It’s haunting, ethereal, and genuinely a handsome piece.
There you go! What did you think of these barbed wire tattoo ideas? We hope you found them as cool and refreshing as we did. As you’ve seen, there are many different ways to use barbed wire as a design element. Now, go get a new tattoo! For even more ink inspiration, keep reading. We’ve got dagger tattoos to share with you next.
Dagger Tattoo With a Snake
Most dagger tattoos are of medium size, often taking up a good chunk of the forearm or upper arm. But you will find them tattooed all over the body. This handsome one has a snake wrapped around it, a popular motif.
Dazzling Dagger Tattoo
A rainbow dagger tattoo? You better believe it. We don’t often associate cuteness with weaponry but this person has managed to pull it off.
Here is a dagger tattoo with botanical elements wrapped around it. It has an aesthetic akin to etching, making it look timeless.
Right Through the Heart
Hearts and dagger tattoos are a match made in heaven, as they are an extremely popular pairing. This one features plenty of red and gold for a warm and appealing look.
Here’s another dagger tattoo that looks like it has been inspired by an etching. It has a bone handle which is quite unusual among dagger tattoos.
This tidy dagger tattoo includes moon and star elements and blossoms that help soften things up. The artist has expertly shaded this tattoo to give it texture and plenty of visual interest.
Black and Grey With Snake
We told you snake dagger tattoos are popular! For this one, the artist has done an incredible job with black and grey. This is a stylish take that looks singular and unique.
Snake and Skull Hybrid
We find two popular dagger tattoo pairings in one design here, as the snake that wraps around the blade looks like a skull. It’s kind of creepy but an impressive feat nonetheless.
Bold, black lines look so sharp for this dagger tattoo. The blade appears slightly serrated, which is unusual among dagger tattoos.
Traditional Snake Head
Here is a very old design that still looks fresh today. Snake heads being pierced by daggers have been tattooed on bodies for decades. For an old-school feel, go with something similar for your dagger tattoo.
A Fresh Take on It
The person who shared this image of a dagger tattoo explained that they were inspired by medieval engraving. We think they nailed it.
Sure, a Heart Leopard
We bring you this heart-filled leopard dagger tattoo to show you that the sky is the limit with these types of designs. Tattoos are all about self-expression, and if that means a pink leopard paired with your dagger tattoo, so be it.
Sun and Moon
This person has two dagger tattoos on the forearms. One is embellished with moon attributes, while the other shines like the sun. If you want a dagger tattoo on each arm, think of things the contrast be that concepts or styles.
RELATED: 25 American Traditional Tattoo Designs, Ideas, and Styles
Micro tattoos are highly favored today. This is a tiny dagger tattoo on the face, and while we know that a face tattoo is not going to be for most, we share it to show how great these types of tattoos look when scaled down. Sometimes the smallest designs make the biggest impact.
Details on Details
Wow! Take a look at all of the intricate detail in the handle of this dagger tattoo. It’s mesmerizing! This tattoo is freshly completed, which is why you are seeing pink. Once it heals, the blade portion will become even fainter, which should look haunting.
Keeping an Eye On It
Here’s an interesting dagger tattoo that finds an eye where the handle meets the blade. It’s an interesting concept and one of the more unusual dagger tattoos with an eye incorporated.
Kawaii Kind of Cute
Kawaii is the Japanese culture of cuteness. This dagger tattoo is the definition of it, with its bright colors and sparkle elements. You can go in any direction your heart is driving you toward.
Here’s a dagger tattoo on a smaller scale that finds the blade piercing a bird’s skull. While medium-sized daggers are the most popular, you can go smaller for an equally appealing design.
Moth for the Win
Cha-ching! This dagger tattoo is money. The lines are so sharp, and the details so spectacular that this tattoo barely looks real. Purple and gold are contrasting colors that really pop next to each other. Bravo!
We are not the biggest fans of spiders, but for all of those goth-inclined folks out there, something similar could be the right way to go for your dagger tattoo.
Our eyes are treated to a rainbow’s worth of color that’s been applied to the petals and leaves of this rose and dagger tattoo. Feel free to go all out with your colors because an explosion of color never hurt anyone.
The Old In and Out
Dagger tattoos that appear to go through the skin are very popular. We saw so many while researching these kinds of tattoos. It’s a very old concept that people are still getting today.
Here’s another heart dagger tattoo that looks unlike most out there. The heart is framed with circular shapes that look like it’s been encrusted with some sort of precious stone. An eye in the center with black, exaggerated tears seems mysterious in all the right ways.
Animal head dagger tattoos are mildly popular today. They symbolize conquering something powerful and wild. In general, animal heads with their mouths open like this are placed over the elbow or knee, but you can pop it on wherever you like.
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Un Chien Andalou
Here is one of the weirdest dagger tattoos we encountered. It’s a melting eye with a dagger through it. Work with a tattoo artist who can help you realize your unique vision, and you won’t regret it.
What did you think of these dagger tattoo ideas? We hope you found them to be as inspiring and thrilling as we did.
Andrew is an Assistant Editor for Mamas Uncut with over ten years of experience as a writer in the creative, marketing, and blogging spaces. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a passion for telling stories in a variety of mediums. Obsessively making lists, reporting celebrity news, and diving into emerging pop cultural topics are a few of his interests.
- 1 Tough Stuff
- 2 Must Love Spiders
- 3 Yee-Haw
- 4 Purple and Gold
- 5 My Furry Valentine
- 6 Across the Chest
- 7 Barbed Butterfly
- 8 Realism
- 9 Abstracted
- 10 Double Arm Band
- 11 Traditional
- 12 Delicate
- 13 Tiny Smile
- 14 Kawaii?
- 15 Eye Inside
- 16 Barbed Wire Thorns
- 17 A Different Kind of Heart
- 18 Pink Flames
- 19 Pride
- 20 With Teeth
- 21 As a Cross
- 22 Getting Real
- 23 Anxious Heart
- 24 Out There
- 25 Swallow and Wire
- 26 Dagger Tattoo With a Snake
- 27 Dazzling Dagger Tattoo
- 28 Classic Dagger
- 29 Right Through the Heart
- 30 Bone Dagger
- 31 Floral Dagger
- 32 Black and Grey With Snake
- 33 Snake and Skull Hybrid
- 34 Super Sharp
- 35 Traditional Snake Head
- 36 A Fresh Take on It
- 37 Sure, a Heart Leopard
- 38 Sun and Moon
- 39 Tiny Dagger
- 40 Details on Details
- 41 Keeping an Eye On It
- 42 Kawaii Kind of Cute
- 43 Realism
- 44 Moth for the Win
- 45 Creepy-Crawly
- 46 Radical Rose
- 47 The Old In and Out
- 48 Lanced Heart
- 49 The Tyger
- 50 Un Chien Andalou
Mamas Uncut is THE online place for moms. We cover the latest about motherhood, parenting, and entertainment as well – all with a mom-focused twist. So if you're looking for parenting advice from real parents, we have plenty of it, all for moms from moms, and also experts. Because, at the end of the day, our mission is focused solely on empowering moms and moms-to-be with the knowledge and answers they’re looking for in one safe space.