26 Elbow Tattoo Ideas That Bend Traditional Designs in New Directions

Elbow tattoos are extremely popular, especially for folks who are looking to complete a tattoo sleeve. Most consider elbow tattoos as a type of “filler” that takes up blank space between existing designs. But, we’re here to prove that elbow tattoo ideas do not need to be boring and, in fact, they are some of the most inventive and exciting tattoos around. Because the artist is trying to cover or frame the elbow, there are some practical challenges for the area, and that only makes these designs more interesting and clever.

We wanted to show you the world of elbow tattoos so that you can get some inspiration for your own ink. We found some awesome examples to share with you! We will first start with plays on classic designs and then work our way through to newer possibilities, and let us tell you, they’re endless. Get yourself some fresh elbow tattoo ideas below.

Spider Webs

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Let’s kick this list off with one of the most popular elbow tattoos ever, the spider web. This is a fresh take on it and more traditional webs are less detailed and leave a larger circle shape around the elbow. We loved the narrative quality of this elbow tattoo that finds a black widow spider about to feast on a moth caught in its web.

More Ways to Weave

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We find a more traditional look in this elbow tattoo but in its center, we find a heart. For good measure, cute flowers have been sprinkled around, even on the back of the star of the show, the spider. You can nod to more traditional designs but make them feel current with the right touches.

Fine Line Webs

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Another way to go is to make the web look spectacular by requesting fine lines that look more realistic than the previous two examples. It’s kind of creepy but also beautiful in its own way.

A Mandala Will Do It

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After spider webs, the other most popular elbow tattoo idea involves a Mandala-inspired design in many different forms. In the above example, we find a black, grey, and red Mandala that looks like straight fire.

As Bold or Fine as You Like It

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You can also go more fine and decorative with your mandala elbow tattoo. It will make the entire design read lighter. The above tattoo could have easily been adapted to a smaller size or even scaled up for more coverage. The choice is yours to make.

As Big or Small as Well

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Here’s another Mandala elbow tattoo but it’s much bigger and bolder than the previous design. If you’re looking for maximum coverage and/or fill, feel free to go large.

Roses and Other Flowers Are Popular

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Next up, after spider webs and Mandalas, you will find flowers, especially roses, as very popular elbow tattoo ideas. In the above example, we are treated to some neo-traditional roses that really pop with color.

Many Ways to Bloom

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Colorful is not the only way to go however, you can score something singular by trying black and white ink. The above flower is ornamental and pretty with flourishes you might find on a piece of fine china. It’s all about the intensity of the black ink in this design which looks grey in some areas but darker near its center.

If You’re Feeling Floral, Go For It

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In general, flowers are some of the most popular tattoos out there so you can’t go wrong with slapping any kind of them on your elbow. This rosebud certainly looks dramatic. Pick a flower, any flower, and you will not live to regret it.

Take a Bite Out of It

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Now, we’re moving on to more uncommon designs but that does not mean there’s not a pattern to spot. Skulls are mildly popular for the elbow, especially with the mouth opened to frame it.

There’s Nothing Funny About This Bone

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Again, we find the open mouth but we see more detail by the way of shading in this skull elbow tattoo. You can spin this design any way you like but know that you will be in pretty good company if you do.

Break Some Glass

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We saw a couple of these shattered glass-style designs as elbow tattoos. It’s a touch of chaos that some people are finding feels just right for them. In general, anything that can radiate out in a circular shape is going to serve you well on the elbow.

RELATED: Meditative Mandala Tattoo Ideas That Foster Focus and Calm

Mix and Match

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In this design, we find a Mandala-meets-flower design that looks very interesting. It’s both geometric and organic in its design. Mix and match a couple of ideas and you could have your very own mutant tattoo that really delivers.

Lean Into Weirdness

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Here’s an elbow tattoo that finds a fairly traditional rose design upgraded with an eye. Eye things over the elbow are a big trend at the moment. This is true of tattoos across the board. We’ve seen eyes popping up in all sorts of different designs.

Put Your Heart Into It

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A heart shape around the elbow is classic and it is even better when it’s got some edge. Part sweet, part spice, this barbed wire heart is such a fun elbow tattoo idea.

Other Directions

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Compass elbow tattoos are somewhat popular and in the above example, you see the gold standard. For an adventurous spirit, something similar could be the right choice for you.

Bust a Fence

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These broken fence tattoos have been springing up on knees and elbows lately and we think it’s a fresh idea worth exploring. Again, we love a tattoo that seems to tell a story so this is a good option that expresses an individualist spirit that does not like to play by the rules.

Spike It

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As we mentioned, anything that seems to radiate out from the elbow center is going to likely work for you. This very intriguing, abstract design makes the most of the body’s natural shape by highlighting the are around the elbow.

You Can Go Abstract

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Tattoos that are abstract and less figurative can be a ton of fun for your elbow tattoo. This one features bold lines and shapes that just look cool. You can take it in a million different directions and we hope you feel inspired to.

Really, It’s Fun

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We find a liquid sort of smoky abstract design used as filler over the elbow here. Isn’t such a stunning effect? This person has tossed out the shape rules in favor for creating something singular and new.

Play With Words

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“Relentless,” this tattoo says in a nearly abstract font that encircles the elbow. Many tattoo artists specialize in this kind of work, so find someone who has great freehand skills to help create a font that only belongs to you.

Consider the Moon and Night Sky

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Here’s an interesting elbow tattoo idea. We find a crescent moon framing the elbow here. She’s a sad moon lady but at least she’s looking to the stars.

Anything Goes

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You’ve seen skull mouths around elbows but you have not seen floating teeth. Your elbow tattoo can be anything you want it to be so swing for the fences with your concept and you will assuredly hit a home run.

Enter the Void

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We did not expect to see a rollercoaster vortex elbow tattoo but here we are. This type of design is not going to be for everyone as it was, without a doubt, a big undertaking. We share it with you to remind you that any idea can be transformed into a good one for your tattoo.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 66 Cool Half-Sleeve Tattoos That Prove You Don’t Know the Half of It

Make Some Art

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Okay, so we know you’ve seen some Mandalas on this list, but you have not seen anything like this. In contrasting color schemes, we find two immaculate designs that mirror each other perfectly. Found yourself an artist you trust with a track record of being amazing and you could walk away with your very own masterpieces.

Play By Your Own Rules

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Lastly, we’ve got an elbow tattoo that feels personal and fun. A broken wishbone sits over the elbow here with some black accents that almost look like smoke. It’s playful as well as pretty and a great tattoo for us to urge you to get weird and unique with what you do!

What did you think of these elbow tattoo ideas? We hope you enjoyed them and feel inspired to get your very own. If you would like even more ink inspiration, keep reading. We’ve got some stunning filler tattoo ideas to share with you as well.

A Classic Tattoo Filler Idea

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Two of the most popular gap fillers are roses and spiderwebs. In this classic style of tattoo, we find a skeletal hand holding a beautiful rose. If you like traditional and neo-traditional tattooing, consider something similar. Because of the simplicity of this design, you could easily scale this down to fill a much smaller gap.

Webs

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Here is an example of how cobwebs can be used as a tattoo filler. More often than not, you will find them in black and grey inks but this one is a touch different with an infusion of color.

Go Geometric

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Over the last couple of decades, clients and tattoo artists have agreed that geometric patterns are great tattoo filler ideas. These candidates can be inserted and worked around existing designs for a truly cook effect. As you can see above, using different ink colors, the artist has filled the gaps with a repeating star design.

A Closer Look

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Here’s another example of geometric filler. The hand tattoo was already there but the artist surrounded it with a very visually appealing geometric design. While we encourage you to experiment with color, black ink does have its virtues.

A Pairing or a Theme

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In the above example, the lock and the key are the two new elements added to help fill this sleeve. Despite the two objects being completely different in shape and size, each one fits perfectly into the surrounding designs. If you are not going geometric, consider a theme and choose imagery accordingly.

Shape Is Key

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Get whimsical by all means, but be certain to take into account the shape of your filler to make sure it either contrasts or accentuates what is already there. The happy sprout character is the filler design that is perfectly nestled between a butterfly tattoo and a botanical one.

Botanical Possibilities

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In the previous flower tattoo filler we showed you, the design was an old-school, traditional rose. That can make the design seem rigid. If you need or want something more fluid and adaptable, consider a botanical element that your artist shapes to perfectly fit the gap. Here, we find some gorgeous orange flowers with blueberries. Very nice!

Anything Goes

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Any tattoo idea can be turned into a tattoo filler idea with the right artist in control. We find a bat, a crescent moon, and a red star here, filling some blank space. Pro tip: black and red inks look fantastic next to each other so if it looks cool to you, consider those colors for your gap filler tattoo.

Fitting In

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This is an interesting and remarkable tattoo filler. Look to the top of the cloud and you will see that the artist has applied the design to look as if it is under the existing one. It’s a small detail but a very cool one and you might as well consider a style like this.

Use Your Imagination

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Any sort of design that can take on an organic shape is going to be your friend when you are thinking of tattoo filler ideas. This vaguely “tribal” type of design has been shaped beautifully to fill that very strangely shaped gap.

Bits and Bobs

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If you do not want just one tattoo filler, don’t settle for less. You can choose a few small designs to fill between the larger existing ones of your sleeve. In the above example, some musical notes and elements, a razor, and some basic star shapes have all been employed to fill the gap.

Conceptual Filler

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This is one of our favorite filler tattoos on this list. The dagger here has been misshapen to fit the area that this person wanted to be filled. Think outside the box and you could walk away with something equally as innovative and fun.

Clouds

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Similar to some of the geometric filler tattoos that we looked at earlier, these clouds provide plenty of coverage. Think of anything that is in an organic shape like waves in the ocean, flames, etc. Those kinds of designs can be used to totally fill in the gaps.

Abstract Shapes

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Another way to go is with abstract shapes that fit into any space. These wavy lines seem to bounce off the tattoos to the left. It offers a bit of drama and a touch of mystery which is always a good thing when we’re talking tattoos.

Arrows

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In addition to flowers and spiderwebs, another really popular subject matter for a tattoo filler is arrows. Arrows can take up a rectangle of space, especially if it is a single arrow tattoo. But, this person had a backward “D” shape to fill so they used a bow and arrows to take care of business.

RELATED: 25 Full Sleeve Tattoos That Dazzle from Shoulder to Wrist

Continuity

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When considering tattoo filler ideas, there is something that you will need to decide. If your sleeve has a color scheme or certain style to it, do you want your filler to fit in or stand out? For this person, who has a sleeve consisting almost entirely of pastels, the gummy bear was a logical choice to keep everything cohesive.

Squeeze a Scene in There

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On the left, you can see where the tattoo artist has mapped out the outline of the tattoo filler. They have managed to squeeze an entire landscape scene into the space. You can easily do the same. Think of the mountains, cityscapes, or even celestial bodies to fill the gap.

Ornamental Elements

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Tattoo filler ideas can also be found in ornamental and decorative arts, architecture, and even industrial design. We find a sort of Baroque flourish that you might find on molding, furniture, or over a window on a stately building. Ornamental elements like it work exceedingly well as tattoo fillers.

Never Break the Chain

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Another popular type of tattoo filler is chains. Chains, necklaces, pocketwatches, etc. all have the ability to be shaped into whatever shape you and your artist are after. In the above example, we find a heart tattoo that is attached to a chain that accentuates the tattoos next to it.

Everyday Objects

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You can elevate mundane objects into art with your filler tattoo. Anything goes! We find an umbrella here purposed to fit the gap perfectly in this person’s sleeve.

Cut It Out

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If you have a gap with a really strange shape, you can do something similar to this lady face tattoo above. Your artist can create the shape and then tattoo elements of the face inside of it for a unique look that feels both traditional and fresh at the same time.

Yummy

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Yes, anything can be a filler tattoo and this slice of mushroom pizza proves it. For a triangular spot to fill, consider anything in that shape. You can even take a completely different shape and then top it with pizza elements and you would have an even more offbeat design.

Lightning

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For an energetic tattoo filler, consider a bolt of lightning that spreads over the blank space. Similar to clouds or waves, lightning can be designed to fit into any size or shape. It’s an ideal candidate for any filler tattoo.

Light Your Fire

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Candles, torches, campfires, etc. all make great tattoo gap fillers because the flames can be manipulated into fun shapes that make the rest of your tattoos look even better. For a long gap, consider something similar to this.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Take a Look at These Dramatic Sleeve Tattoos for Women

Traditional At Its Best

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Iconic tattoo artist Sailor Jerry was a fan of using dots and stars as tattoo filler between larger designs. If you like this traditional look, it really does offer so much texture in visual interest considering it is just a bunch of dots and basic stars.

There you go! We hope you found some great tattoo filler ideas you can take to your artist. Tattoos are all about self-expression so just make sure you are staying true to yourself and your vision for your sleeve. If you liked these designs, keep scrolling for even more tattoos!

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