What Does A Wave Tattoo Represent?

There are so many stunning water-inspired tattoos out there, and it seems like more and more people are looking to the ocean when it comes to inking their skin because the water and what it signifies hold significance for many. Tattoo artist Errold "Art" Acol opened up about the general understanding of what waves can represent, and these tattoos really can have a very deep and meaningful significance. "Waves and ocean tattoos are usually representative of the soul, the subconsciousness, emotion, nature, a primal state [...] the 'good' parts of existence, dreams, fantasy and more," Acol wrote in a Facebook post. Though he noted that, of course, "A wave tattoo could hold so many meanings for a person." That's 100% true because there are so many different takes on what a wave design represents.


Tattoo artist Roseland Daniels explained another way wave tattoos have been interpreted, linked more to the idea of purity and cleansing one's negative experiences or energies. "Water is purifying, so it could hold a similar meaning to a phoenix for them and present a cleansing. Washing away and starting fresh," Daniels explained on Quora.

Wave tattoos can hold extra significance in different cultures

As is the case with many different tattoo designs, wave ink can also hold extra significance depending on where the person getting the tattoo is from and their cultural background. As Errold "Art" Acol explained in their Facebook post, in Japan, wave tattoos can be a symbol of strength. "Japanese wave tattoos often symbolize strength and life through art," he shared. A wave tattoo may also hold particular significance in representing where a person grew up. As Roseland Daniels shared on Quora, "For someone who grew up near water, it could be how they choose to take it with them if they have to move inland." Tattoo artist Naksh Tattoos agreed with that concept, writing "Wave body art is also representative of the ocean, a love of the sea and surf, conservation, or a sense of belonging to coastal villages, towns, and cities."


But that's not the only way a wave tattoo could be interpreted. Naksh Tattoos explained that, for some people, they can also symbolize the idea of a constant movement through life. "Wave tattoo ideas are linked to the idea of motion and the inexorability of tides and time. They never cease traveling, even when seeming completely still," they wrote.

But even the same wave tattoo can have a different meaning from person to person

Because tattoos can be so incredibly personal, even the same wave tattoo inked onto two people can have a totally different meaning for each one. "I believe getting a tattoo is a very personal and symbolic process; if you research the history of tattoos you'll see that tribes often used tattoos as identifying their class system," tattoo artist Amanda Pate explained to Love To Know. "Whether it's a small tattoo or one a person decides to get in the spur of the moment, it goes beyond what the piece may mean and the tattoo becomes a symbol of that moment."


If you're ever curious about a person's tattoo and what it means to them, it may be a good idea to ask them about it. Inquiring about people's ink is a great way to get to know them better and learn more about different cultures or the way different people see the world. However, just remember that because tattoos can be extremely personal and not everyone will want to speak about them. If the person you're talking to tells you they'd prefer not to discuss their ink, then you must respect their wishes.