I think red ink tattoos are great if you want something more attention-grabbing than just a regular black ink tattoo. But the red ink can also add extra symbolism to the tattoo design. Like if you take a dragon design, for instance, doing it in red ink can emphasize their power.
Like just a few days ago, I did this red snake tattoo for a client. He wanted it big and on the side of his arm. I sketched it up in this gorgeous minimalistic design, but while working on it, it hit me that I've worked on a bunch of different red ink tattoos before. So, today, I thought it might be fun to run through them, as well as their meanings.
Here are all the best red ink tattoo designs.
A name tattoo can be a way to honor someone who means a lot to you. But also, it can be a way to have a part of them with you, which would be an especially great way to honor someone who has passed away. Doing the name tattoo in red ink can be smart, as red is a color that is often associated with love and desire, so you'll be able to highlight your love for the person you are paying tribute to
I also have to say, red is way more attention-grabbing than regular black ink. So, the color swap can be a way to make your tattoo more eye-catching.
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On a similar note, you can get a phrase tattooed in red ink. Like I said, the inclusion of the red ink would make the piece more attention-grabbing. But also, depending on the phrase or wording, the red will add extra symbolism.
Like just a few days ago, I tattooed the phrase 'live forever' in red ink as a part of this beautiful cursive design. The client decided to go with red ink over other colors, as she said it added extra energy to the tattoo which I agreed with.
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The sun is often associated with vitality and energy, but it can also be a symbol of positivity. Opting for a red ink tattoo for the sun would be a fitting choice given how fiery it is. On top of this, the red ink can be a way to emphasize passion, which would tie in with the vitality that the sun represents.
The last red sun tattoo I did was on a client's hand. He got it near his thumb, and he specifically wanted the piece on his hand of all places to symbolize bringing positivity over everything he worked on.
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Heart tattoos are often associated with emotion and love. By tattooing one, you would be able to convey that you are someone who loves and feels a lot of emotion. You can especially show your love for a special someone by getting their name tattooed with the heart.
The red ink would be especially fitting for a heart, as it ties in with the color of blood, which the heart pumps. But also, red is a color that is often associated with love.
Instead of doing a regular love heart, you can do a more detailed anatomical heart. It would be especially smart if you get somewhere on your chest, as it would be near your real heart. I had a client do this a few months ago, actually.
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Snakes are often associated with renewal, as they tend to shed their skin. In Japanese culture, they are also seen as symbols of protection and wisdom. By getting a snake tattoo, you can highlight growth and wisdom in your life.
I feel like going with red ink for the snake tattoo would emphasize desire, which can send a message that you're passionate about growing, and the wisdom that comes from it.
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Dragons are mighty creatures that can represent power and might. Depending on the culture, they can have different meanings too. If you take Japan for example, they can emphasize protection and wisdom, while in China they can emphasize magic.
For a more interesting dragon tattoo, you can swap the regular black ink outline for red ink. On top of being extra eye-catching, red is often associated with power, which would work well to emphasize how mighty dragons are.
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Fire is often associated with passion and warmth. So, it would be the perfect tattoo idea if you want to show that you are an enthusiastic person. By going with red ink for a fire design, you can highlight this vibrant energy well.
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Flower tattoos are meaningful, and can symbolize joy and beauty because of how mesmerizing they can be. What's also nice is that flowers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, so you can go for a very intricate tattoo design if you want.
When it comes to doing flowers as red ink tattoos, you'll be able to take an already pretty design and make it even more stunning. But also, the red ink would especially be suited for flowers like roses. Not only is a rose red in color, but it's also a flower that is synonymous with love, which would work great with a red ink outline as the color is associated with love.
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If you want something dainty, you can do a small red ink tattoo. Essentially, you can take one of the many tattoo designs I talked about, and then scale it down. Not only would it be discreet, but I feel like this would be a more inconspicuous tattoo. And this would especially be the case if you go ahead and get it somewhere like on your ankles or wrist.
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If the red ink tattoo that you're getting means a lot to you, you can go ahead and get it on your chest. It would be near your heart at all times, which might be extra symbolism that you want. As I mentioned, I did this anatomical heart tattoo for a client, and she decided to get it on her chest. She decided on the placement so that the tattoo would be near her heart, which I thought was smart.
But the thing is, chest tattoos can hurt. This shouldn't be a surprise, as there is a lot of thin skin here. I'd suggest that you keep this in mind if you do not have the best pain tolerance.
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You can get a red ink arm tattoo if you want a very attention-grabbing piece, especially if you get it right up and center like on your forearm. But if you want to amp this up a notch, you can go ahead and get a full-sleeve. Basically, a full sleeve is a tattoo that stretches all the way up your arm to the bottom. So, you can get something totally detailed here.
If you're looking for some inspiration for a red ink full sleeve, you can maybe do a giant red snake or dragon going up your arm, with a bunch of other design motifs in there, like red flowers.
I get it if you are not a fan of a full-sleeve tattoo: it can be a lot of work and pretty expensive. So, you can always just get a half-sleeve tattoo instead. If you're thinking that it's a sleeve that only goes halfway up your arm, you are right!
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You can get a red ink tattoo on your hand if you want something more eye-catching than an arm tattoo. But of course, the hand isn't the largest space to work with, so you will have to get a more simple red ink design here. Like I said earlier, a regular of mine got a red ink sun tattoo on the back of his hand to symbolize positivity over everything he worked on.
To make your hand tattoo extra interesting, you can go ahead and get it on your palm. But if you are thinking of doing this, just remember that palm tattoos can be a bit tricky to take care of. You can't get them wet or expose them to the sun when you first get them, which would be easier said than done.
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If you want a very elaborate tattoo, you can get it on your back. The back is arguably the largest part of your body to work with, so you can get something highly detailed here. The last back red ink design was this gorgeous red dragon tattoo that stretched all the way up the client's spine, in case you are looking for some inspiration.
But I have to say, back tattoos can hurt a lot. There are just a lot of nerve endings here. In fact, I had a client almost faint on me a few months ago while I was doing a back coverup for her.
Nonetheless, back tattoos are great if you want something discreet. No one would be able to see your tattoo with a shirt on, which might be what you want to hear if you work in a corporate setting.
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You can do a neck red ink tattoo if you want something that is more out there compared to the other tattoo placements. It's up to you to decide whether to go for a small or big design here. Just remember that if you get something that is big, you will have a really attention-grabbing tattoo in the end. The neck is already an eye-catching spot for a tattoo, so you might find it hard to blend in with the crowd.
I did this rose tattoo in red ink for a client just a few days ago. She wanted something to show the world that she was as mighty as a dragon, plus it tied into her Japanese heritage.
If you're wondering how painful neck tattoos are, keep in mind that they can be painful. There are just a lot of sensitive nerve endings here. You need to especially keep this in mind if you don't have the best pain tolerance, or are a newbie to tattoos.
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Last but not least, you can go for a red ink design on your leg. Similar to back tattoo designs, you'll be working with a relatively large body part, so you can get a more elaborate tattoo here. What's also nice is that leg tattoos don't hurt that much, like in the case of your upper outer thigh for instance.
And just like with arm tattoos, you can get a sleeve on your leg. It's completely up to you to decide whether to go for a half or full-sleeve tattoo here. Off the top of my head, a really good suggestion would be a large red snake or dragon on your leg, and have it stretch all the way to the top, or even to the side of your stomach. I feel like this would be a cool, dynamic design.
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A lot of people go for red ink tattoos because it makes for a more stunning design than just regular black ink. However, the red ink is also a bolder choice, making the design that you're doing pop even more.
Of course, the addition of red ink can add extra symbolism to the tattoo design. Like if you get a name tattoo, doing it in red ink can emphasize the love and passion that you have for the person you are getting a tattoo of. While getting a more fierce design like a dragon, the red ink can represent power and might.
The short answer is that no one really knows. Historically, red ink was sourced from cinnabar or mercury sulfide. The adverse reactions that people used to face were mostly due to the mercury content in the ink. But these days, the color is sourced from different, more organic agents.
Nonetheless, red (and even yellow inks) have been reported to cause allergic reactions. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this allergic reaction can occur immediately, weeks, and sometimes even years after.
If you do have a reaction, it usually will be mild, with just a bit of redness and swelling which you can take care of with a steroid cream. However, for some, the reaction can be more serious, even causing neurodermatitis in rare cases.
Apart from possible adverse reactions, you also need to keep in mind that although you'll have a gorgeous design, the red ink in your tattoo won't last that long. You will need to get regular touch-ups if you want to keep all the fine lines and juicy details intact. If it's any consolation, ink colors like yellow and orange have been known to fade faster than their red color counterparts.
There are a lot of different red ink tattoo designs out there, with the red ink adding extra layers to the tattoo's meaning. I ran through over 30 amazing designs, from beautiful flowers to dragon tattoo designs. Hopefully, you found at least one of them useful, and will be speaking to your tattoo artist about one of the red tattoos discussed!