49 Stunning Elbow Tattoos With Meaning

The elbow is an uncommon canvas for creativity. From small to bold, black to colored, these elbow tattoos will inspire your next ink.

Tattoos are permanent art on the skin that represents who you are. They reflect your point of view, values, and aesthetics. But in
terms of placements, some require more attention than others.

The elbow is one of them. Many tattooists have a bitter-sweet relationship with elbow tattoos. On the one hand, the elbow is a unique angular area full of possibilities. You can use the elbow as the center to form a radiating shape. Or you can create something that looks different when you bend or flex the elbow.

On the other hand, the skin makes the elbow tricky to work with. Because the skin on the elbow is usually darker, thinner, and wrinkly, tattooists must be extra careful with the coloring and after-care.

Despite all the extra attention needed, elbow tattoos are loved for a reason. They have a medium visibility which suits almost any profession. And because elbow tattoos are less common, they are perfect for those who want to showcase their unique personalities through ink.

And if you are one of them, this post is for you. From small to bold, black to colored, these elbow tattoos will inspire your next ink.

Disclaimer: This collection of elbow tattoos is for inspiration only. Please do not copy the artwork. If you love these tattoos, follow artists and show them some support.

Beautiful elbow tattoos with meaning

Small elbow tattoos

The elbow is a unique tattoo placement. Tattoos in this area are mainly visible to others, not the tattoo owners. That’s why they are often considered as statement pieces, which express a point of view or an attitude.

But you don’t need to be loud in order to be heard. Small, simple tattoos have the power to impress as well. A word, a simple motif, or a phrase can all make a point. And small tattoos, in general, cause less pain on thin skin and are more affordable.

So if you want something subtle to represent yourself or are getting your first ink, these small elbow tattoos may be what you are looking for.

Meaningful small quote on the elbow

Meaningful quote tattoo above elbow by @m3.inkMeaningful quote tattoo above elbow by @m3.ink


Quote tattoos are loved because each of them has a personal meaning to the owner. This one, for example, reads “nothing matters that much.” It can be a token of the owner’s core values or a tribute to a life-changing moment.

Small simple brushstroke

Brushstroke elbow tattoo by @wittybutton_tattooBrushstroke elbow tattoo by @wittybutton_tattoo


A small brushstroke tattoo on the elbow is a good way to show your artistic side. The choice of color also adds a sense of mystery to the ink.

Live for yourself

Burn your fire quote tattoo by @m3.ink_Burn your fire quote tattoo by @m3.ink_


The phrase “burn your fire for no witness” is originally the album name of American artist Angel Olsen. But it’s also a good reminder to impress yourself, not anyone else.

Simple butterfly blackwork

Butterfly above elbow tattoo by @linsey_tattooerButterfly above elbow tattoo by @linsey_tattooer


Butterfly tattoos may be a girly ink element. But they also represent one’s courage to transform. For those at the crossroads of life, a simple butterfly tattoo will inspire them to embrace changes fearlessly.

Everything happens for a reason

Everything happens for a reason by @laurbo_inkEverything happens for a reason by @laurbo_ink


Hydrangea around the elbow

Hydrangea around the elbow by @abii_tattooHydrangea around the elbow by @abii_tattoo


Because the skin on the elbow can be more wrinkly, tattooing around it is a smart idea.

This floral tattoo mimics the shape of a double fish Pisces tattoo. It would be a subtle representation of the sign and also the wearer’s elegant aesthetics.

Taurus tattoo

Taurus elbow tattoo by @dcsss_tattooTaurus elbow tattoo by @dcsss_tattoo


One-word tattoos are tricky because picking one word as a self-representation can be challenging. But if you believe in astrology and relate deeply to your sign, a zodiac tattoo like this would be both personal and meaningful. 

Single-lined toucan tattoo

Single-lined toucan tattoo by @studiodaveinkSingle-lined toucan tattoo by @studiodaveink


A toucan is seen as a symbol of luck, beauty, and confidence. As a sacred bird for South American tribes, toucans in tattoos often show the wearer’s pride in his root.

Olive and hydrangea branches tattoo

Cute floral elbow tattoo by @linsey_tattooerCute floral elbow tattoo by @linsey_tattooer


100% symmetrical tattoos are pleasing to the eye. But when you make the two sides slightly different, like this above-the-elbow tattoo, the results can be unexpectedly cute.

Small self-love reminder

Small self love elbow tattoo by @m3.ink_Small self love elbow tattoo by @m3.ink_


The imagery of one hugging herself symbolizes one’s love for herself. Such a small but deep self-love tattoo will remind the wearer to prioritize and take care of herself.

Tiny bee tattoo

Tiny bee elbow tattoo by @kaleidoscopetattoostudioTiny bee elbow tattoo by @kaleidoscopetattoostudio


Bee tattoos often belong to those who want to keep a low profile. A small bee tat like this can be placed anywhere on the body.

And depending on the species and design, a bee tattoo may carry different meanings. For example, a small bumblebee represents one’s loyalty to his family, while a queen bee tattoo is a symbol of strength and girl power.

Just breathe

Just breathe by @inked.by_.steph_Just breathe by @inked.by_.steph_


When you pick the right design, a tattoo can bring the wearer calming and soothing energy. And this simple quote tattoo above the elbow is a good example.

Matching wings elbow tattoos

Matching wings elbow tattoo by @alunar.inkMatching wings elbow tattoo by @alunar.ink


Because the skin around the elbow is thin, getting a tattoo in the area is usually more painful. That’s why these simple wings can be a good idea.

These minimalist matching tattoos can be a tribute to a divine friendship. If you have someone in mind, these BFF tattoos may be your next ink.

Hand-drawn rainbow tattoo on elbow

Hand drawn rainbow tattoo on elbow by @purensonmez.inkHand drawn rainbow tattoo on elbow by @purensonmez.ink


Less than perfect is a new form of perfection. At first sight, this elbow rainbow tattoo might look like a doodle. But the scribbly lines make it ideal for a carefree soul, which is really the essence of the design.

Small mom and star elbow tattoo

Small mom and star elbow tattoo by @salon_haloSmall mom and star elbow tattoo by @salon_halo


This mom tattoo is simple. But it sends a powerful message. It reminds us that a mother is not a tag on women but a source of strength that makes her shine.

Bold and beautiful elbow statement tattoos

For many people, tattoos represent their identity. And a good tattoo design magnifies one’s personality. That’s why vibrant, bold tattoos never go out of style.

But big tattoos don’t have to be overwhelming. They can be beautiful, elegant, and sophisticated as well. So if you want to announce to the world who you are and make it loud and clear, the following elbow tattoos are for you.

Morning glory elbow tattoo

Flower wrap around the arm tattoo by @tattooist_sionFlower wrap around the arm tattoo by @tattooist_sion


Morning glories flower tattoos have a unique spiritual meaning. Because the flowers bloom and die in one day, they often symbolize inevitable changes and the life-death cycle.

In this tattoo, the flowers and strings hug the elbow with an opening. The less-than-whole design also reflects imperfection. Together, this tattoo points out the truth there’s beauty in flaws and changes.

Mandala elbow tattoo

Blackwork elbow mandala tattoo by @uappinsBlackwork elbow mandala tattoo by @uappins


The elbow is the perfect central point of a radiating pattern. This black mandala shows how you can arrange a complicated design elegantly on the elbow.

Snake and flowers cover-up tattoo

Snake and flowers elbow tattoo by @guppy.flowertattooSnake and flowers elbow tattoo by @guppy.flowertattoo


If you want something bigger and bolder, consider going beyond the elbow. This tattoo stretches from the forearm to above the elbow, allowing more room for complicated and creative designs.

Spider web elbow tattoo

Spider web elbow tattoo by @maia_forsterSpider web elbow tattoo by @maia_forster


Spider webs are another radiating pattern in addition to mandalas. However, spider web tattoos are not for everyone. It takes boldness to wear a spooky design like this. But if you are not afraid to be different and are searching for a badass tattoo, you will rock this look.

Coffee tree arm tattoo

Branch with fruit stunning elbow tattoo by @non_lee_inkBranch with fruit stunning elbow tattoo by @non_lee_ink


Realism tattoos don’t have to be the exact replica of a real life object. Take this tattoo, for example. Tattooist Nonlee plays with the colors by choosing an unconventional palette. It makes this tattoo on the side of the elbow look like a fantasy artwork.

Symmetrical intricate ornaments on the elbow

Beautiful ornaments on the elbow by @maziaje.tattooBeautiful ornaments on the elbow by @maziaje.tattoo


Ornamental or aesthetic tattoos aren’t always meaningful. But they must look good, requiring tattooists to consider pattern, colors, and composition. Oozing elegance, this piece is a success.

Ring of flowers

Small flowers elbow tattoo by @bethkweedaytattooSmall flowers elbow tattoo by @bethkweedaytattoo


Small Cupid elbow tattoo

Cupid love tattoo above elbow by @tattoosbyinaCupid love tattoo above elbow by @tattoosbyina


Cupid is often seen in symbolic love tattoos. It’s believed that whoever gets shot by Cupid’s arrow will fall in love head to toe. Such a small Cupid tattoo accentuates the wearer’s loving and pure side.

Blue gemstone jewelry tattoo

Gemstone jewelry above elbow tattoo by @tattooist_jammy.jGemstone jewelry above elbow tattoo by @tattooist_jammy.j


Elegant leaves in the elbow area

Leafs wrapping around the elbow by @jamjam.tattooLeafs wrapping around the elbow by @jamjam.tattoo


This ink may be static. But the way the leaves climb along the arm brings natural movements to the tattoo.

Pinky promise

Pinky promise matching elbow tattoos by @abidal_tattooPinky promise matching elbow tattoos by @abidal_tattoo


On fire

On fire elbow tattoo by @_yoiiiiOn fire elbow tattoo by @_yoiiii


This fiery tattoo is designed to capture attention. This ring of flames would belong to someone that is passionate, courageous, ambitious, and is not afraid to show it.

Ouroboros snake tattoo

Ouroboros elbow tattoo by @rinor_electrictattooingOuroboros elbow tattoo by @rinor_electrictattooing


Ouroboros refers to a snake or dragon biting its tail, forming a close circle. It represents eternity and an endless life cycle.

Because of the shape, ouroboros tattoos are ideal for the elbow. You can wrap it around the arm or arrange it in a ring like this one.

Stunning rose bracelet tattoo

Rose wreath elbow tattoo by @guppy.flowertattooRose wreath elbow tattoo by @guppy.flowertattoo


Clouds and moon cover up tattoo

Small sky elbow cover up tattoo by @tattooist_zelaSmall sky elbow cover up tattoo by @tattooist_zela


Waves above the elbow

Small wave elbow tattoo by @magpietattooshopSmall wave elbow tattoo by @magpietattooshop


Wave tattoos have various symbolisms. Because waves have the power to sweep off the land and wash away houses, they can represent the wearer’s awe and respect for nature.

In addition, because waves continuously hit the shore and reshape the coastline, wave tattoos can be a subtle representation of new beginnings and changes.

Intertwining snakes by the elbow

Snake tattoo around the elbow by @strokin_darkSnake tattoo around the elbow by @strokin_dark


Native Americans associated snakes with rainfall. They are considered sacred and can bring a harvest to a village. In the west, however, snakes symbolize greed and temptation.

Whether good or evil, snakes are skilled predators. Thus snake tattoos like this would belong to someone that is not to be messed with. 

Embrace your magic

Witchy elbow tattoo by @electriccattattooWitchy elbow tattoo by @electriccattattoo


Witchy tattoos have a unique charm that appeals to a particular demographic. They usually include elements like witch hats, brooms, snakes, or potions, giving a sense of mystery. Such a bold design reminds one to embrace inner strength and magic.

Creative elbow tattoo ideas

So far, we’ve covered some of the best elbow tattoo ideas. But if you want to play with the placement and stand out from the crowd, below is a list of creative tattoos on the elbow that you don’t want to miss.

The devil butterfly

Devil butterfly elbow tattoo by @tatu_pandaDevil butterfly elbow tattoo by @tatu_panda


In general, butterfly tattoos are girly. However, by adding a skull pattern to the wings, the tattooist brings coolness and personality to the design.

Simple realism dove elbow tattoo

Dove elbow tattoo by @tattooist_doyDove elbow tattoo by @tattooist_doy


Dove may not make the loudest and most vibrant bird tattoos. But these pure white birds show the world the beauty of peace and love.

Broken glasses

Broken glasses elbow tattoo by @crimclayBroken glasses elbow tattoo by @crimclay


This striking tattoo mimics a bullet hole on shattered glasses. The visual impact is so strong that only the most daring people can wear this look.

Cute baby clowns

Mini clowns on the elbow tattoo @yumemonchiMini clowns on the elbow tattoo @yumemonchi


Elegant ornamental tattoo

Stunning ornamental elbow tattoo by @emmanuelle_martos_tattooStunning ornamental elbow tattoo by @emmanuelle_martos_tattoo



Hugs by @sophieleetattooHugs by @sophieleetattoo


Cute horse carousel around the elbow

Cute horses elbow tattoo by @neocorticalhoneyCute horses elbow tattoo by @neocorticalhoney


This horse carousel tattoo shows that an eye-catching tattoo doesn’t have to be overwhelming. There’s nothing outrageous in this tattoo except for cute ponies. Instead, it’s the composition that makes this piece stand out.

Beautiful red floral butterfly

Beautiful butterfly elbow tattoo by @tattooist_jammy.jBeautiful butterfly elbow tattoo by @tattooist_jammy.j


Moon-lit night sky

Moon lit sky elbow tattoo by @tattooist_danhaMoon lit sky elbow tattoo by @tattooist_danha


Spikes around the elbow

Spikes elbow tattoo by @__danykimSpikes elbow tattoo by @__danykim


Bold and stunning color mandala on the elbow

Colorful mandala elbow tattoo by @kiwa_jipColorful mandala elbow tattoo by @kiwa_jip


If you think an intricate mandala elbow tattoo is fabulous, this one is on another level. With the bold contrasting color combos, you will not be able to look elsewhere.

Pine tree above the elbow

Pine tree tattoo above elbow by @tattooist_namooPine tree tattoo above elbow by @tattooist_namoo


This pine tree tattoo has a deeper meaning attached to it. The spreading roots and the half-circle resemble the imagery of a tree of life. Therefore, it will belong to someone who sees life as a journey and is ready to prosper with every second.

Conceptional waves

Abstract wave elbow tattoo by @nxe_xinerAbstract wave elbow tattoo by @nxe_xiner


Traditional eagle wing tattoo

Eagle elbow tattoo by @oldsolnewtricksEagle elbow tattoo by @oldsolnewtricks


Abstract curves

Swirl patterns on the elbow by @___danyulSwirl patterns on the elbow by @___danyul


Berry cupcake tattoo on the elbow

Berry cupcake tattoo on the elbow by @harry_colorBerry cupcake tattoo on the elbow by @harry_color


Want something that makes you hungry? This cute food tattoo is so perfectly illustrated that it will make you drool.

Which of these elbow tattoos is your favorite?

Leave your thoughts in the comment down below!

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