Roses are one of the most traditional tattoos and are popular with both men and women. They represent love, courage, friendship and beauty depending on the color of the flower.
When it comes to the history of floral tattoos there is no flower more iconic than the rose. Its shape is instantly recognizable whether it is in color or black and white and it works great as a stand-alone image or as a part of a larger picture.
Here we will cover everything you need to know about the rose, its meaning and its usage in the world of tattooing.
What is the History of Roses Tattoos?
Roses are one of the oldest symbols in tattooing and have long been associated with the art form. In fact, although we commonly associate the flower with femininity today and think of it as a more womanly tattoo, it was originally a sign of masculinity.
Over the years the rose tattoo grew in popularity especially when it became linked to the woman as men who were often away from their wives or girlfriends for a long period of time, such as those in the army and sailors, would get the inking along with their lover’s name as a reminder of them while away.
This idea of using the image of the rose as a symbol of your love and devotion to someone quickly spread to the wider public and became a very common symbol of love throughout many countries. Even to this day, it is not uncommon for people to get their partner’s name alongside the flower.
However, it was not long before people decided to put their own spin on the very popular rose tattoos and began to incorporate other design elements such as skulls, daggers and even watches. Each of these additional symbols gave the tattoo an extra meaning, which will be explored below.
In addition to being some people’s first choice for a tattoo, they are also very popular as a cover-up tattoo as they can be used to cover both big and small areas, awkward spaces and be shaded as dark or as colorful as needed, making them a very handy tool in an artist’s arsenal.
What Do Roses Symbolize?
When it comes to the flower itself most people will often think of the bright red roses that lovers gift each other for Valentine’s day.
Red roses do indeed symbolize love, specifically romantic love and passionate love and longing, which is why they make the perfect gift on Valentine’s day.
However, like most flowers the symbolism changes depending on the color of the rose. For example, the yellow version of this flower has a completely different meaning from the red version and should not be mixed up!
The yellow rose symbolizes new beginnings, friendship and joy. Giving these as a gift would give a very different impression from a red bunch!
The white flowers continue a theme that is common to almost all white flowers and that is that they symbolize purity and innocence, here along with reverence and serenity. They make a great flower for christenings and weddings.
Orange roses bridge the gap between the red and yellow varieties by symbolizing desire, fascination and sensuality. They depict a move away from a platonic love and toward a romantic love.
When it comes to pink roses these can be split into two categories: light pink and dark pink. Light pink represents sympathy and admiration whereas dark pink symbolizes gratitude and appreciation.
What Do Roses Tattoos Mean?
Traditionally, a single rose tattoo is a symbol of love, normally for a partner. However, it is not uncommon for people to also have the flower dedicated to their mother. However, over the years the flower has lost this very strong connection as the symbol of a lover and can be used to represent almost any important female figure in someone’s life.
If someone’s name is rose then this is also an added meaning for this particular choice of tattoo.
However, when the rose is accompanied by other images the meaning behind the tattoo is changed. For example, when accompanied by a skull, this tattoo comes to mean overcoming a difficult challenge, life after death, or a new beginning.
When paired with an anchor it reinforces the traditional meaning of the tattoo as a tribute to a loved one.
When added to a dagger it can mean one of several things including the skeptical belief that evil always triumphs, heartbreak (especially when drops of blood are included) or even the simple struggle between good and evil in everyday life.
A clock with no hands and a rose together symbolize endless love but when the watch in the design is given a certain time it can be used to signify a certain event or past love.
When paired with a dove this flower creates a tribute to a loved one that has passed on.
Where Do Roses Tattoos Usually Go?
The great thing about rose tattoos is that they can be adapted to suit just about anywhere on the body. They can be contoured to almost any space and leaves can be added to fill awkward spaces. This is why they are so popular as cover-up tattoos.
You should consider whether you want to be able to cover your tattoo or not and then go from them. How big do you want it to be? Will you need the entire of your back or will your upper arm suffice? Do you want a small simple stem that could maybe fit on your wrist? The choice is yours!
Characteristics and Styles of Roses Tattoos
Because roses are a very traditional tattoo they look amazing in their traditional form, regardless of whether you choose a black and white or colored version. The most important thing is that you choose an artist who is great with shading.
Water color, fine line or bright bold pieces are also great options that work well with the figure of the rose. You should choose whatever best suits your personality and fits in with the rest of your tattoos. The rose is an incredibly versatile option.