Garfield Tattoos: History, Meanings & Design

Garfield Tattoos: History, Meanings & Design

Are you thinking about getting a new tattoo and want to memorialize everyone’s favorite fat tabby cat but aren’t sure how? After all, what is the history of most Garfield tattoos?

The Garfield comic strip was originally published in 1978, and 73 books of comics have been released as of January 2022. The comics resonated with hundreds of thousands of Americans through a witty, sarcastic, lazy tabby cat everyone could love.

Who wouldn’t love a cat that hates Mondays and eats lasagna like the rest of us? In this article, we’ll explore the history of Garfield, what he stands for, and the style and location of the tattoos.


What Do Garfield Tattoos Symbolize?

For many ink owners, tattoos represent important parts of their lives and memories they don’t want to forget. The Garfield comic strips are filled with childish and adult humor as the tabby cat goes through daily life with his owner Jon and the dog Odie.

While kids love the lasagna-eating cat, adults will find humor and familiarity with Garfield’s rebellious streak against societal rules. The character doesn’t mind oversleeping and being lazy, and he’s certainly not apologetic about who he is. But, what does he symbolize?

In many ways, the tabby cat symbolizes the opposite of who we as adults have been taught to idolize in the past 50 years. Today, you’ll see news articles about the most famous, the fittest, and the most exciting people in the world – but here, you have a cat (that’s kind of a jerk) just living his own best life.

For others, Garfield symbolizes a childhood rebellion that most of us gave up in our twenties when we needed to find stable jobs and buy houses. Imagine being a tabby cat that eats all day and doesn’t pay rent. I’d love it!

What Do Garfield Tattoos Mean?

Every tattoo has its meaning to the person who chose it. Growing up, Garfield could have been your favorite comic strip, and you still remember looking for The Funnies in the Sunday paper with your dad.

Or, maybe the tattoo happened because of a dare at 1 am after a few too many beers. I’d say that means you had a great night – or a great story to tell later on.

Usually, we’ll see the cat on people who seem a lot like the comic strip character. No stress is the best stress, and everything can be solved with a teddy bear and a nap. These people take life easy, have a good time, and don’t care what you think while they do it.


Characteristics and Styles of Garfield Tattoos

Garfield tattoos are usually designed in two ways: Bright and chaotic or monochromatic with fine linework. As for the style, tattoo artists do their best to imitate Garfield’s constant look of boredom or nonchalance (unless Pooky is the tattoo!).

Bright Garfield Tattoos

Since our favorite tabby cat is, well, a tabby, most tattoos require a bright orange color and his signature dark black lines. The tattoos in this style also feature other elements, such as massive sandwiches, donuts, and his unshakable hatred for Mondays.

If you’re interested in getting a bright Garfield tattoo, look for an artist with a color portfolio and great shading techniques.

Monochromatic Garfield Tattoos

Not all tattoos require color. A comic strip initially printed in black and white is bound to have a lot of options when it comes to tattoo designs. Because there’s less color, the artists must rely more on linework to convey the point and the image.

In these tattoos, you’ll also see less shading and potentially more creative freedom from the tattoo artist. If you’re interested in getting a black and white Garfield tattoo, look for an artist with excellent linework in their portfolio.


Styles of Garfield Tattoos

Unless you’re getting a crazy Garfield tattoo, they fall under the artist’s choice category or are just classified as line work or comic tattoos. Because the tabby cat is a recognized figure in American media, most tattoos don’t differ from the comic style he became famous for.

Another possible style is the “New School Tattoo Style.” It became prominent around the late ‘80s and mid ‘90s but has been switched to a more modern animation/comic style. The imaging can usually appear cartoonish, wacky, and brightly colored with dramatic caricatures.

A great example of comic and cartoon tattoos is here.


Where Do Garfield Tattoos Usually Go?

The grumpy cat usually goes on arms or legs because those areas are excellent for any size tattoo. The designs we’ve seen the most are on the upper arm or the back of the calf. There are also popular tramp stamps featuring Garfield “ripping” through the comic book pages.

Tattooing the arms are great for people who want to showcase the tattoo daily.

What Artist Should You Choose For a Garfield Tattoo?

If you want a bright tattoo, ensure the artist has a lot of color work in their portfolio. The same applies to grayscale and monochromatic tattoos. Due to the popular comic style imaging, you’ll want an artist with great line work.

When I need a new tattoo artist, the first place I go to is Instagram. Most artists have their complete portfolios online and are easy to access. I also check local tattoo groups on social media and ask if anyone has recommendations.

Even though the image is famous and probably won’t be very large, I recommend making an appointment instead of relying on a walk-in. This gives you and the artist more time to discuss what you want.



Garfield tattoos come in various shapes, sizes, and styles! Like any tattoo, their meanings are unique to each person, and the style depends on the artist and your preference. Just remember to take a leaf out of Garfield’s book to take more naps and eat an extra slice of that cake.

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