21 Nautical Tattoos Inspired By The Sea

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Tattoo styles come and go – as we know – some, however, stay forever, and not just on your skin.

There’s something about the endless sea that gives many tattoo collectors a familiar feeling. May it be the desire for adventure, freedom, or finding a place called “home,” there are plenty of designs to inspire the most avid mariner

Looking back in history, it’s said that nautical tattoos influenced by the sea, date back to Captain James Cook and his adventures to the Pacific Ocean. His sailors would get little souvenirs marked on their skin of all kinds of things to remind them of their voyages or about how much of the world they had travelled. Simple designs, such as anchors, swallows, mermaids, as well as sharks, with bold, black outlines and bright colors were common, and still are high in demand. 

Since the last century, American Traditional tattoos received a bit of a face lift via Neo Traditional, Abstract mixed with American Traditional, and even Realism made its way to the maritime.

Where as the traditional/neo traditional tattoos had vibrant colours as their draw, the realism nautical tattoos rely on hyper details to capture your imagination. Details such as ships in angry seas, caught in what seems like a storm being attacked by a sea creature.

Here are 21 nautical tattoos inspired by the sea. Some are classic black & grey, others traditional and some photo realism are included.

Nautical Sleeve Tattoo containing a woman, octopus & long ship
Tattoo by Dario Castillo, @Castillo.Dario

The first one is done by tattoo artist Dario Castillo, it’s a realism piece in black & white that represents a woman, as a sea creature, pulling down a ship.

Colour Realism Sleeve Tattoo of a Long Ship and Deep Sea Monster Fish
Tattoo by Gunnar The Fifth, @gunnar_the_fifth

Number two on the list is this picture perfect ship on the open sea, not knowing what dangers are lurking beneath it. The colors look like it’s an oil painting, vibrant yet vintage. Done by tattoo artist Gunnar The Fifth.

Black & Grey Realism Octopuss Sleeve Tattoo
Tattoo by Hernan Yepes, @hernanyepes_art

Number three on this list is a black and grey monster kraken done by Colombian tattoo artist Herman Yepes, who specializes in black and grey portraits. Every detail is carefully executed. 

Colour Realism Sleeve Tattoo of an Octopuss
Tattoo by Saga Anderson, @inkbysaga

This octopus comes in a vibrant color, it reminds of snorkeling in the Carribean sea. Done by tattoo artist Saga Anderson. 

Colour Realism Tattoo Sleeve of an Antique Deep Sea Diver Helmet
Tattoo by Lucas Boteroc, @lucasboteroc

This old school diver helmet, looks like it was found where the Titanic has its resting place. The colors are so well matched it represents a copper-like tone. Done by tattoo artist Lucas Boteroc.

Colour Realism Shark Tattoo
Tattoo by Mario Hartmann, @mario_hartmann_tattooist

You probably need a bigger boat.

Everyone’s favorite summer slasher and biggest nightmare is so well executed, it looks like it aims right at you. Even the light reflections of the sun are captured, detail for detail. Done by Realism tattooist Mario Hartmann.

Tattoo of a Child Scuba Diving
Tattoo by Mario Hartmann, @mario_hartmann_tattooist

This cute, vibrant-in-color baby diver looks like it came straight from the camera film. Also done by Mario Hartmann.

Colour Realism Tattoo of Mermaid and Octopuss
Tattoo by Martin Sjöberg, @martinsjoooberg

Here we have a little bit of Greek mythology, interesting combination of themes and colors. Done by tattoo artist Martin Sjöberg.

Colour Realism Arm Tattoo of Octopuss and Sharks
Tattoo by Martin Sjöberg, @martinsjoooberg

This Atlantis piece is also done by Martin Sjöberg and highlights some serious sea predators, sharks, and a kraken. 

Arm Tattoo of an Underwater Scene
Tattoo by Marzan, @marzantattooart

Sharks – especially the Great White , thanks to the ’70s classic horror flick “Jaws” – are one of many popular marine themes to be selected as tattoo designs, like this bad boy. Done by tattoo artist Marzan.

Colour Realism Sleeve of a Shark & Turtle
Tattoo by Marzan, @marzantattooart

Here goes another one, Marzan clearly knows how to execute a Great White well enough, it looks frightening. 

Colour Realism Arm Tattoo of a Giant Jellyfish
Tattoo by Michael Perry, @michaelperryart

There lurks quite some danger in the deep blue sea, like this giant jelly fish. The colors are spot on. Done by tattoo artist Michael Perry.

Realism Black & Grey Arm Tattoo of The Lady of The Sea
Tattoo by Pedro Muller, @pedromullertattoos

The woman and monster kraken theme is quite popular, this one is done by tattoo artist Pedro Muller.

Colour Arm Tattoo of an Octopuss
Tattoo by Ralfy Dabrowski, @ralfytattoo

Here we have a huge octopus in color, done by tattoo artist Ralfy Dabrowski.

Colour Realism Tattoo of a Woman Octopus Hybrid
Tattoo by Sandra Dauksh, @sandradaukshtatattoo

Here’s another one with a woman and a monster kraken, but in color. Done by tattoo artist Sandra Dauksh.

Colour Realism Tattoo of Antique Deepsea Divers in Suits
Tattoo by Sandra Dauksh, @sandradaukshtatattoo

Amazing vintage divers in color with their metal suits and helmets, also done by Sandra Dauksh.

Black & Grey Realism Hand Tattoo of a Woman Wrapped in Tentacles
Tattoo by TJ Schunemann, @thomasj_ink

There’s something about the Scandiavian legend about monster kraken, that any lover of the sea will believe that mermaids and kraken are a thing, and not just part of Disney’s Pirates of the Carribean. Like this black and grey master piece done by tattoo arist TJ Schunemann.

Colour Realism Back Tattoo of Whales Under Water
Tattoo by Meyer Viktor, @viktortattoo.studio

It looks like someone put the Pacific Ocean and placed it on someone’s back. Even the movement of water and the waves are highlighted. It’s like wearing 3-D glasses. Done by the incredible Viktor Meyer.

Colour Realism Arm Tattoo of a Long Ship in the Ocean
Tattoo by Viacheslav Bodrov, @vyacheslavbodrov

Look at this sky. You can feel the vibration of the waves shaking this tiny fisher’s boat. Great color combo. Done by tattoo artist Viacheslav Bodrov.

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