Dad tattoos: find ink inspiration with these 17 unique ideas

Father's Day comes just once year, but these tattoo designs are a gift to dad that will last forever.

dad tattoos

Father's Day (opens in new tab) only comes once a year, but tattoos designed to pay tribute to Dad will last forever.

With one in five people choosing to go under the needle, it's no surprise that the concept of "Dad" and "Mum" tattoos continues to be popular. The tradition of paying tribute to a parent through tattoos goes back years and everyone knows the classic heart-shaped "Mom" tattoo design often seen in films.

With many tattoos now chosen on a whim, it's no surprise that some people are looking to go back to this tradition and get a tattoo that's carefully designed to remember a special person, place or time. Tattoos dedicated to a partner, like his and hers' tattoos are also popular along with tattoos honouring a loss (opens in new tab).

If your Dad doesn't have any tattoos himself, it's always a risky idea as you might not know how he feels about them. So if your tattoos are paying tribute to Dad, it's probably a good idea to check in with him - if you can - about whether a tattoo is something he'd appreciate. But if he's a big fan of tattoos himself, then he might be touched by the idea that you've committed your love for him onto your skin. You could even try the ultimate bonding experience and go to get some new pieces together!

From colour Dad tattoos to grey, traditional to fine line, classic designs to quirky original concepts, most tattoo artists are happy to draw up customised designs so you can put your own ideas and memories into the tattoo. Then once you've got the design and agreed with the artist about colour, size and placement, the only thing left to do is go under the needle.

What should you consider before getting Dad tattoos?

Tattoos don't define a person (opens in new tab) but can be a hugely personal thing, so before opting to get one for life it's important to think about a couple of things - like where you should get it, who should do it and how can you be sure it's going to last.

Where is the least painful place to get a tattoo?

The most common question when it comes to tattoos is, "does it hurt?". While many people will just say "yes", in many cases the answer isn't that clear cut. How much a tattoo hurts very much depends on where you get it done on your body.

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Having a tattoo done involves needles piercing your skin many times, so any parts of your body where there is little fat close to the bone will naturally hurt a lot more than areas where there is lots of fat between the skin and bone.

Some of the least painful areas to get a tattoo include: 

  • Upper and outer thighs: As well as having more fat than other areas of the body, the upper and outer thighs also have fewer nerve ending.
  • Forearm: There's lots of muscle on your forearms and few nerve endings, so this spot tends to hurt less.
  • Outer bicep: While this area might not be painless, it's an area that has natural fat around it and fewer nerve endings.
  • Calves: For the same reasons, calves are always a good place to get a tattoo if you don't fancy the idea of it being really painful.

How to choose the right artist for your Dad tattoos

1. Check what the licensing laws on tattoos are where you live 

Then when you know what you want, make sure that the parlour upholds those licensing laws. They should be clearly displayed on the business' website, as well as in the shop.

2. Be aware of hygiene habits 

Before getting your tattoo, it's a good idea to check the hygiene habits of the place you're going to. Artists are required to use single-use needles and ink, gloves, bandages and anything else that comes into contact with your skin.

3. Check the artist's reputation

With so many tattoo artists on Instagram these days, the best way to check the reputation of your potential artist is to head online. There you will be able to see what their healed tattoos look like in the "tagged photos", as well as gauge an impression of who they are.

4. Make sure they've done similar tattoos in the past

Some artists won't take on clients that want a person's name tattooed on them. This is down to personal preference of the artist and you should always respect their wishes, so to avoid having time wasted when looking for an artist by checking they've done similar tattoos to the one you want in the past.

Now with all the health and safety checks done, what are some of the most unique ideas for Dad tattoos?

Ideas for Dad tattoos

Remember a special time

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Days out, holidays, big moments with your Dad throughout your life can be remembered with a tattoo.

Go for a traditional design

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Tattoo traditions are around for a reason. Bold colours and thicker outlines last longer too...

Get a simple note in his handwriting

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Artists can take the script from letters or birthday cards in a matter of minutes.

Focus on his hobbies

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Fishing, camping, golf, cookies - whatever he loves the most.

Or give a nod to his job

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This tattoo was for a dad who was an electrician, but you could come up with a similar design for any occupation.

Personalise your tattoo with a nickname

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Dad, daddy, pops, papa...

Focus on an important date or number

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You don't need to explain it to anyone, but you'll know what it means.

Show off your similarities

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A great one to go for if the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Remind yourself of what you know he'd tell you anyway

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Dads' mottos are usually the best mottos anyway.

Go for small and simple, if you like

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Your tattoo doesn't have to be huge to make a statement.

Use his thumbprint for a touching tribute

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It's intricate work, but stunning once done.

Get a joint tattoo with a sibling

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Because you all love him just as much.

Use a meaningful quote

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There's tons of beautiful sayings out there.

If your artist is skilled enough, opt for a portrait of your favourite photo of him

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Everyone's got that one iconic picture...

Or get an interpretation of a photo

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A playful design like this one lets you get a favourite photo of you and Dad, but interprets it in a whole new way.

Send him a permanent prayer

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The symbolism gets stronger with each look.

And if he's no longer with you, honour his memory

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Gone, but never, ever forgotten.

These unique Dad tattoos are just some of the designs that people love! You could always opt for a drawing of your own.

Grace Walsh
Grace Walsh

Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for Goodto.com, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics.  She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.