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35+ Memorial Tattoo Ideas for Dad to Show How Much He Means to You!

by Sherri Owens

I think getting a memorial tattoo for Dad would be a good idea to honor his legacy. Like just a few days ago, I had this client get a portrait tattoo of his dad in his military uniform to honor his time in the armed forces while still alive.

While sketching it, he also wanted me to add one of his dad's favorite bible verses under the picture. I then realized that I've done memorial tattoos in so many different ways in the course of my career. A lot of them have been pretty interesting. So today, I thought it might be fun to run through some of the best dad memorial tattoos and their meanings for you.

Best Memorial Tattoo Ideas for Dad

Here are all the best memorial dad tattoos.

Small Memorial Tattoo Ideas

If you want something dainty, I'd suggest going for a small memorial tattoo. It'll be more discreet considering its size: the tattoo would be more of a personal reminder of your father's passing than anything else. If you want some inspiration, the last small dad tattoo I did was a client's father's name on the side of his finger.

Also, if you want to amp up how discreet the tattoo is, you can go ahead and get it on a spot that not that many people would see, like your back.

Heart Shaped Dad Memorial Wrist Tattoo

Image by @tattoosforwomen.club via Pinterest

Simple Memorial Dad Tattoo

You can get a simple memorial tattoo if you don't want anything flashy. You can also make the tattoo small like I said, if you want to make it discreet and just as a personal reminder to yourself. I think a good simple memorial tattoo would be your father's date of birth along with the date he passed.

Heart Shaped Fishing Hook Memorial Tattoo

Image by @oceanwavetattoo via Instagram

Flower and Cross Design Tattoo

Flowers symbolize change, while crosses are associated with the salvation of Christ. By combining the two into a tattoo, you can signify the change in your life with your father now in heaven. Of course, flowers like white roses are also associated with death, so adding one to your tattoo further links to the concept of passing on.

Rose and Cross Father Memorial Tattoo

Image by @search.yahoo.com via Pinterest

Dove Memorial Tattoo Bird Design

Doves can symbolize the peace that your father is in now that he is in heaven. But just like crosses, doves are also Christian symbols. They're usually associated with the Holy Spirit, so incorporating one into your memorial tattoo can tie back to your father's faith.

Dove Memorial Tattoo with Watercolor Splashes

Image by @hartfordcountytattoo via Instagram

Black Ink Dove Memorial Forearm Tattoo

Image by @samurai_tattoo_mehsana via Pinterest

Dad and Dove Memorial Tattoo

Image by @kingsmantattoos.com via Pinterest

Dove and Quote Memorial Tattoo

Image by @Isabell H via Pinterest

Double Dove Birds with Lettering Memorial Tattoo

Image by @Erica Johnson via Pinterest

Butterfly Memorial Tattoo

Since the ancient Greeks, butterflies have been associated with death. They were used to symbolize souls departing to the afterlife. In this context, a butterfly tattoo can represent your father's soul leaving this earth. One of my clients once wanted me to include a Monarch butterfly in the tattoo since it was his father's favorite, with his name and the day he died underneath.

Dad Memorial Tattoo with Butterfly and Date

Image by @spooky_tattoos via Instagram

Father and Child Hugging Tattoo

To highlight how much you miss your dad, you can tattoo a father and a child holding hands together. It'll be a way of showing that you wish you were a little kid with your dad by your side again. For an added personal touch, you can base the characters in the tattoo on you and your dad. So, you can add little details in the clothes and design to match your likeness.

Father and Daughter with Red Balloon Memorial Tattoo

Image by @Purejadeco via Pinterest

Sketch Style Father and Daughter Memorial Tattoo

Image by @marquartcarlos213 via Pinterest

Greyscale Father and Child with Clock Memorial Tattoo

Image by @ike_does_tattoos via Instagram

Tool Dad Memorial Tattoos

If your dad was a handyman, you can honor him by adding one of his favorite tools to his memorial tattoo. Like this one time, a client wanted me to include a spanner his father had owned since his little sister was born. I ended up making it the focal point of the tattoo, with 'dad' written underneath.

Tool and Floral Dad Memorial Tattoo with Initials

Image by @canalsidetattoo via Instagram

Hammer with Florals Dad Memorial Arm Tattoo

Image by @christopher_ross_tattooer via Instagram

Hammer and Spanner Dad Memorial Arm Tattoo

Image by @leahmichellesaw via Instagram

Hammer and Flowers Dad Traditional Memorial Tattoo

Image by @memelly via Instagram

Spanner with Spark Plug Dad Memorial Tattoo

Image by @memelly via Instagram

Spanner and Screwdriver Dad Memorial Tattoo

Image by @awilliams2121 via Pinterest

Matching Memorial Tattoo Design

You can get matching memorial tattoos if you and a family member both want to honor your father. Essentially, the two of you would get identical tattoos in the exact same spot. Although I haven't done that many matching memorial tattoos, I did have these two sisters come in for one a few days ago. They decided to go with memorial angel wings tattoo designs on their chests, with their dad's name underneath.

Matching Father and Child Forearm Memorial Tattoo

Image by @MackEggleston via Instagram

Memorial Tattoo Quotes Design

You can emphasize how much your father meant to you with a nice quote or poem about his love. Alternatively, if he had a favorite poem or quote himself, you can always make it the star of your tattoo. Like this one time, my client whose dad was very religious got his dad's favorite bible passage underneath his name and date of death.

Dad Memorial Quote Thigh Tattoo

Image by @borderlinetattoos via Instagram

Father Portrait Dad Tattoos

You can bring your dad to life with a realistic portrait of him. It'll be like there's a little part of him with you at all times. However, since you're getting such a detailed piece, I'd suggest making it bigger to let all the details shine.

Also, if your father was in the military or the armed forces, this might be a good time to include a portrait of him in his uniform. And consider using a picture of the both of you together too - I'm sure there'll be a lot from when you were a kid. This will make the tattoo feel even more special.

Just remember that if you're going with a more hyperrealistic portrait, you need to find a reputable tattoo artist first. Realism is a skill that not all tattoo artists can do.

Father Portrait with Butterflies Memorial Tattoo

Image by @reyr1tattoo via Instagram

Father Portrait with Clouds and Birds Memorial Arm Tattoo

Image by @dangerdaveink via Instagram

Father Portrait with Lettering Forearm Memorial Tattoo

Image by @wordpressdotcom via Pinterest

Father Soldier Memorial Tattoo

To commemorate your dad, you can also honor his time in the military if he was an army man. There are a few ways that you can go about this, but a top suggestion would be to tattoo his dog tag. It's the ID that military personnel wear with all of their information, like their name and the unit they're from.

However, if you want something more elaborate, you can do a portrait tattoo of him in his uniform. I already suggested this earlier, but it would be a way of having all of the badges and patches he's won right up and center.

Father Military Memorial Tattoo with Angel Wings

Image by @LoralineEdwards via Instagram

Soldier Memorial Arm Tattoo

Image by @extreme_tattoo_scotland via Instagram

Memorial Angel Tattoo

Angels are seen as protective beings, so an angel memorial tattoo can emphasize that your father is being guided in the afterlife. And at the same time, it can emphasize that your dad is watching over you in heaven like an angel himself.

Most of the clients I've done memorial angel tattoo designs for have just gotten the word 'dad' with angel wings on top of it. But I've also done some creative tattoos where my clients have wanted me to do a portrait piece of an angel holding their father's hand. As you can imagine, these have been pretty big and have been a part of sleeve tattoos.

I distinctly remember I did this once intricate angel memorial tattoo where the client wanted it as a part of a back piece. It was this angel crying down at my client's father's grave and took days to finish.

Heart Shaped Dad Memorial Angel Wings Tattoo

Image by @blessedink661 via Instagram

Dad Memorial Crying Angel Thigh Tattoo

Image by @SinOnSkinUk via Instagram

Sunflower Memorial Tattoo

Sunflowers are symbols of adoration, so in a memorial tattoo, they can represent the love and admiration that you have for your dad. They're also associated with positivity, so a sunflower can highlight staying positive even though you lost someone who means so much to you.

Clock and Sunflower Dad Memorial Tattoo

Image by @shadowtats817 via Instagram

Chest Memorial Tattoos

If your dad meant the world to you, you can get his memorial tattoo on your chest. It would be near your heart at all times, after all. However, keep in mind that chest tattoos can hurt. This shouldn't be a surprise considering how much thin skin there is here.

In Loving Memory of Father Tattoo

Image by @ratemyink via Instagram

Text Only Dad Memorial Chest Tattoo

Image by @atsnellisafb via Instagram

Stairway to Heaven Memorial Chest Piece

Image by @tomb.tattoos via Instagram

Arm Memorial Tattoos

You can get your memorial tattoo on your arm if you don't want anyone to miss it. But if you want to amp up how noticeable it is, you can get it as a part of a full sleeve. A full sleeve is a tattoo that goes all the way up your arm. Unsurprisingly, most of the memorial sleeves that I've done have been pretty elaborate, including family portraits.

If you don't want to commit to something as extensive as a full sleeve, you can always do a half-sleeve. It's exactly what you might think, being a sleeve that only goes halfway up your arm.

Black and Grey Cross with Angel Wings Memorial Tattoo

Image by @mjsink via Instagram

In Loving Memory of Dad with Date Arm Tattoo

Image by @ashesscattering via Instagram

Hand Memorial Dad Tattoos

You can get your memorial tattoo on your hand if you want something more attention-grabbing. But as the hand isn't the largest space to work, you'll have to go for a smaller design. A lot of the hand tattoos I've done have been small memorial tattoos with just the client's dad's name on a finger.

Watercolor Feather Dad Memorial Tattoo

Image by @ink_slingers_saloon via Instagram

Back Memorial Dad Tattoos

The back is one of the largest spots for a tattoo, so can go to town with your memorial tattoo here. Just like what I suggested with a sleeve, you can maybe get a nice portrait of your dad here. I once did this full sleeve, where the client got a grandpa memorial tattoo on the bottom and a portrait of his dad on the top.

Here's the deal, though - back tattoos can hurt a lot. There are a lot of nerve endings near your spine and neck. And I've almost had clients faint on me when doing back coverups for them.

But back tattoos are discreet, which I think works great if you work in corporate.

Tree Dad Memorial Quote Back Tattoo

Image by @angeltattoolaetitia via Instagram

Father and Dog Memorial Colored Back Tattoo

Image by @daveyspataro via Instagram

Leg Memorial Dad Tattoos

Last but not least, you can go for a leg memorial tattoo. The leg's a relatively large space to work with, so you'll be able to go to town and get creative here too. However, what's nice is that leg tattoos don't hurt that much, especially near your upper outer thigh.

And just like arm tattoos, you can get a sleeve on your leg. It's up to you to whether to go for a full or a half sleeve.

Dove, Gate Dad Memorial Leg Tattoo

Image by @whatsupyoursleevetattoo via Instagram

Why Should You Get Dad Memorial Tattoos?

Dad memorial tattoos are great ways to highlight and honor how much your father meant to you. But also, the tattoo would be able to shine a light on your father's legacy. I've especially been able to do this for clients whose fathers were in the military. They ended up getting their dads tattooed in their military uniform with all of their medals and honors up and center.

Of course, your memorial tattoo can emphasize how much a family man your father was, or any good qualities that he had that you want to pay tribute to. Like this client whose father had passed used to love animals, so she got a paw print memorial tattoo with him and all his dogs in heaven.

Is It OK to Get a Memorial Tattoo?

It's fine to get a memorial tattoo - you'll be able to honor someone who meant a lot to you. And also, it would be a way to always have them with you, especially if you do a realistic portrait of them.

But here's the thing, if the person you're getting a memorial tattoo of wasn't ever fond of tattoos in the first place, it might be of poor taste to get a tattoo of them. It's definitely up to you to figure this out and speak to your loved ones to find out what they think.

How Do I Choose a Memorial Tattoo?

If there's a particular item, object, or even hobby that the person you're paying tribute to liked, I'd suggest incorporating it into your tattoo. Like I said, I had this one client whose dad was a handyman, and he had this one spanner in his toolbox his whole career. She ended up getting a tattoo of it with 'dad' underneath.

But of course, if you want a memorial tattoo to bring the said person to life, there's nothing better than a portrait design. It'll be like there's a part of them with you at all times. However, hyper-realistic portraits are hard to do, so you need to find a tattoo artist who's a pro in realism first.

Final Thoughts

There definitely are a lot of ways to go about dad memorial tattoos, with each of them being a great way to highlight how much your dad meant to you. All in all, I hope you found everything that was discussed useful - I ran through over 35 amazing designs that you can get as a memorial tattoo for Dad. 

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