Awesome Anchor Tattoos & Meanings
Looking for some anchor tattoo design ideas? Check out this gallery of the best designs we’ve ever seen!
Trends in tattoos come and go, trends grow and go from niche to mainstream and back to niche again, but one thing stays unchanged: the anchor tattoo that is relentlessly popular.
Anchor-themed ink work is now a popular sight for men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, once the realm of sailors and seamen of all sorts.
For certain individuals, particularly for those not so familiar with the field of tattoo art, when the term ‘tattoo’ pops up, the anchor would be the first thought to come to mind.
The anchor may be said to be more of a stereotypical tattoo, but that does not mean that it has to be bland or unoriginal!
Anchors suit well with a number of styles and have a variety of profoundly symbolic meanings.
Early history of the anchor as a symbol
Not many people know that, in ancient Rome, one of the first uses of the anchor as a symbol took place.
During a time where the Romans were trying to abolish Christianity, the anchor was embraced by Christians as a sign of their religion.
A seemingly harmless illustration used in place of the easily identifiable (and punishable) Christian cross was almost like a hidden code.
The anchor offered the ideal secret sign for Christians facing persecution for their faith.
The design of a cross is readily identifiable, but it was not formally accepted as an emblem of any faith, because it could be shown without risk of being taken to mean Christianity.
As a means of making themselves visible among other members of the community, early Christians wore anchor jewelry and anchor tattoos.
Anchors were also used to designate safe houses on religious grounds for those seeking shelter from prosecution.
Anchor tattoo meaning
Anchors are used to ‘connect’ the ship to the sea bed while sailing. This keeps the ship in place and prevents it from sailing away, even during the stormiest conditions, keeping the ship and everyone onboard secure.
For this cause, strength, stability and protection have always been connected to the anchor.
Anchor-themed tattoos will mean exactly that: continuity of your life or convictions, being faithful to yourself and your ideals, remaining solid and healthy even in the worst of times.
The breeze or the current would not take an anchored ship ashore. Much like an anchor keeps the ship down to keep it secure, the nature of the anchor will symbolize being grounded and steady.
The home may be another context behind the anchor art. The anchor will normally be lowered on a ship at the conclusion of the voyage, or at least at a secure harbor.
Your anchor tattoo may also symbolize a location or an entity that you equate with protection and to whom you still want to come back.
The anchor is held at all times on the deck and only lowered when the ship stops. For a tattoo, the concept of adaptability can be introduced: you move through life and find safety and warmth in yourself and others around you no matter where you are.
Which indicates the ship is going on a new voyage, or continuing a long journey, when the anchor is lifted.
The notion of a ‘modern adventure’ brings hope and anticipation about what lies ahead for many people. Your imagery of your anchor could symbolize being open to the future and what it could offer.
Anchors are immensely strong and require a huge amount of power and effort to bring back up until they are plunged into the water. In order to keep it from moving, their aim is to weigh down the boats.
A fractured or broken anchor tattoo may also be a token of going on and not having the past to weigh you down.
Anchor tattoos in the military
In the insignia of naval units of many of the armed forces of the world, Anchors figure prominently.
A main feature in the United States is an anchor with a cord. The styles and badges of the Navy have been modified from the icons used by the Royal (British) Navy.
Within the U.S. Since safely crossing and returning from the Atlantic Ocean, sailors have a single anchor inked, in addition to the general use of the anchor as a military insignia.
Meanwhile, the boatswain’s mates are sailors who have two crossed anchors on their side, between the thumb and index finger.
The mates of Boatswain are the crew members who protect the deck of the ship and take charge of smaller boat operations.
Popular anchor tattoo designs
For such a simple shape, the anchor has an astounding amount of symbolic meanings – and makes for a surprisingly versatile tattoo.
Popular design ideas include:
- Anchor with a piece of rope or chain – An anchor with rope wrapped around it is referred to as a ‘fouled anchor’ in sailing and in the military. This is because it becomes incredibly impossible to remove from the sea until the anchor is tangled up in rope. For another dimension of significance, the rope may be attached to an anchor design, or it may only have an aesthetic purpose-the inclusion of the rope allows it a more complicated design.
- Geometric anchor tattoo – Lately, geometric tattoos are all the rage, and for this theme, the anchor is a fitting focus. It blends well with the overall look of geometric tattoos, already fully symmetrical and made entirely of straight lines.
- 3D anchor – An anchor will make a beautiful 3D tattoo, whether on its own or wrapped in string. It is not an excessively complicated 3D object, but it looks amazing when well done.
- Watercolor – Watercolor ‘splashes’ can create an impressive backdrop for any emblem, but thanks to the obvious link with water, they serve an anchor especially well. There are plenty of awesome-looking watercolor anchor tattoos out there with a whole variety of bright colors, you don’t have to restrict yourself to the usual blues and greens of the sea.
- Matching anchors – For their matching tattoos, several couples prefer anchors, and it’s plain to see why. The sense of resilience and strength can easily be extended to another person or a relationship, as well as that of home and comfort.
- Cracked anchor – In tattoo designs, a cracked anchor, as discussed above, is also used to symbolize breaking free, going on, and not letting your history tie you back.
Anchors and other symbols
Anchors, like many items with strong or nuanced symbolic associations, are also paired with other symbols in tattoo designs.
This is also done to bring a more dimension of symbolism to the tattoo or to illustrate in the sense of the tattoo what the key symbol represents to the individual.
For instance, consider the following combinations:
- Anchor with the infinity symbol tattoo – The symbol of infinity, a mathematical sign that indicates forever or endlessness, is also featured along with the anchor. The anchor is normally worked into the symbol’s thread, which takes the form of the number 8 on its side.
- Heart and anchor – The best balance of passion, whether in the company of a loved one, to convey the concept of seeking power and stability. In this combination, as part of a single arrangement, the two symbols can either appear individually, or the outline of the heart can be worked into the structure of the anchor. Another common alternative to an anchor pattern is a heart-shaped piece of rope or cord. Such forms of tattoos also involve a loved one’s name, usually written on a ribbon, as in the typical tattoo style.
- Anchor with a compasstattoo – They make for a seamless and great-looking architecture because all of these components have nautical connections. The desire to still navigate your way around, go in the correct direction, or actually know where you are symbolizes a compass.
- Anchor with a star tattoo – In nautical symbolism, the star still means being able to navigate your path, even in darkness, like a compass. This is because, historically, sailors used to navigate at night by gazing at the locations of stars before the advent of suitable technologies. The nautical star, a five-pointed star, with each arm half sun, half dark, resembling a compass rose, is of special symbolic significance to sailors.
- Anchor with a rose tattoo – Roses have a wide variety of spiritual and symbolic significance, in addition to looking wonderful as tattoos. Roses will symbolise, among other things, equilibrium (like the anchor), secrecy, balance, knowledge, and friendship. Red roses are now synonymous with love and passion in particular, and white roses with purity and innocence in particular.
- Anchor with ‘hold fast’ quote tattoo – This is a reference to the classic sailor knuckle tattoo, a common choice, especially for men’s anchor tattoos. Sailors would have a ‘hold easy’ tattoo on their fingers in hopes that while grabbing rigging, it would bring them luck. In this case,’ keeping on’ means possessing the power not to let go of the rope used to govern the sail. These terms can be understood as part of a contemporary tattoo to symbolically underline the anchor’s sense of being loyal to yourself or others and/or being solid and secure no matter what.
This are just some suggestions for a more complicated tattoo style to incorporate an anchor with other components.
Your tattoo should eventually reflect a sense that is unique and important to you, so don’t be afraid to play with your thoughts.
Celebrities with anchor themed ink work
While historically a male preference, the prevalence of anchor tattoos for girls and women has risen in contemporary culture to the point that it’s a totally unisex choice.
Many actors have even selected anchors for their tattoos, many of them women. Examples include:
- Amy Winehouse – Amy had an all-black outline of an anchor on her stomach, with the words ‘Hello Sailor’
- Margot Robbie – Margot has a tiny anchor on the inside of her left ankle.
- Hilary Duff – Like Margot Robbie, Hilary Duff has a small one on her ankle.
- Kesha – Kesha’s tattoo, also tiny and is on her right wrist.
- Kate Moss – Kate has a black anchor tattoo on her right forearm.
- Kelly Osbourne – Kelly has a colorful anchor and rope design on her left forearm.
- Zoë Kravitz – Zoë’s tattoo is a minimalistic design composed only of thin lines. It’s located on her left arm.
- Miley Cyrus – Miley’s tattoo takes the form of an all-black outline on her right wrist.
Anchor tattoo placements
As in other styles, the optimal placements would be mainly determined by the difficulty and scale of the tattoo.
Big patterns perform well in places where there is a sufficiently wide gap on the body, without too much of a curve, where the tattoo suits without causing the lines to cross too parallel to each other.
Intricate designs done in a limited space will initially look fine, but most definitely would not age well and require daily touch-ups.
The back, chest, waist, hip, and thigh are places ideally suited for massive tattoos. Big tattoos will also fit well as sleeves, but proper preparation would have to be involved in this situation to ensure that the arm curve does not distort the forms.
Both of the above, plus the calf, arm/forearm, stomach, and the classic anchor tattoo spot, provide medium style placements: the elbow.
One of the benefits of using an anchor symbol is that it can be shrunk down to the smallest of sizes for your tattoo. Even small enough to fit on your knuckle or earlobe, if tattooed in a minimalistic way, the anchor will maintain its form.
For a small anchor tattoo, often people prefer their ankle or foot, perhaps to reinforce the sense of being safe and anchored.
Among the tattoo art legends, anchor designs have a rich past, profound symbolism, and a strong location. They are extremely flexible and simple to customize, despite being a common choice and a kind of tattoo stereotype. An anchor style can still be exclusive and a perfect choice for a tattoo of any scale.
An anchor tattoo might be right for you, whether you are looking for a modern tattoo or planning to add a modern twist on a conventional style.