How to Find Inspiration for a Custom Tattoo Design

Published on May 9, 2014 by Jodie Michalak

If you want a custom tattoo design, you’re going to need to seek inspiration that you can later feed your tattoo artist for ideas and design planning.

Inspiration may come in the middle of the night, or it may take days if not years to find a muse.

It helps to understand the history and purpose of tattooing before diving into hobby or general interest tattoo designs.

Tattooing originally began as a way of commemorating family and uniting tribes of people.

Today, enthusiasts tattoo many images that have absolutely nothing to do with either, and that’s OK. However, if your design is original and at least serves some personal significance, you’re bound to love that art for a lifetime. Here’s how to find inspiration for a custom tattoo design even if you’re not artistically inclined or creative.


Music connects people with emotion. No matter who you are or where you’ve come from, you’re likely to feel the sentiment in some of the most heartfelt songs that have ever been written.

You also probably have a playlist of your own, or a song that you play on repeat, repeat, repeat. That song is trying to tell you something so listen to the lyrics. Is it making you stronger? Helping you deal with goodbyes?  These are all inspirational starting points for a custom tattoo, if only for a quote or lyric tattoo…or perhaps something much larger, like that Midnight Train to Georgia back piece with a steam powered train engine?


Literary tattoos hold valuable significance. Written words are an art, so translating them into a different medium such as a tattoo is another way to celebrate them.

Perhaps a stack of books will display your devotion to language arts, or maybe an illustration of beloved children’s books? Dive into a new world with a book, and

you’ll never be short of custom tattoo design ideas. Look at your favorite characters and plots  and quotes.


A picture can speak 1,000 words, but you likely don’t have that much available body canvas. If you want a Realistic black and grey portrait tattoo, you may choose to sort through old photographs to find a heart touching picture that captures your love and devotion to family. 

This may mean a portrait tattoo of your child, your mother, or perhaps even your wife. Either way, that box of negatives is filled with a rich history that likely defines some of the most special and significant times of your life. Going through photographs will help you to connect to who you really are, what better way to find inspiration for a custom tattoo design?


It helps to get out into nature when you’re planning a custom tattoo design.  It is here that you’ll find the beauty and compassion for all living things. From floral tattoos, to animal spirit designs, leaving the thrones of your home and reconnecting with  yourself on a nature hike will help you sort through what’s really meaningful in life. Make this a walk to remember and be sure to jot down your ideas.

Making an Artist Connection

Once you’ve found your muse for a custom tattoo design, you’ll need to hire an artist to recreate the vision into a beautiful piece of art you’ll wear for a lifetime. The more suggestive you are in the design, the better outcome you’ll likely achieve. Submit a free custom design request and your imagery will be pitched to our talented artists all over the world, and from there you can hire the tattoo artist who best connects your sentiments into wearable art.

Remember inspiration does not come easy, it is work in itself yet it is the most rewarding. Wearing a custom tattoo that bears significance is heartfelt and deeply moving. Who can’t commit to these emotions?

Images courtesy Bobby Cimorello and Pavel Marchenko


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