Where can I find nerdy tattoo designs?
Another Comic-Con has come and gone, leaving fans searching for a more permanent fix. If you're longing to escape into your favorite geekdom, you're in luck. We've listed 60 nerdy tattoo designs that are artistic and perfect for nerds everywhere. (Because being a nerd is cool now, right?)
But I'm a designer. Why should I care about tattoos?
For many designers, art is life: a passion, a job, and a way to interpret experiences. And most artists know good design affects more than just artists; good design affects everyone.
For instance, a floppy disk icon reminds us to save our files. We see golden arches and know there's a nearby McDonald's. And how about emojis? Chances are you've used them in lieu of a sentence recently, because they efficiently communicate feelings. These are all forms of design we use to experience surroundings and express thoughts.
And when it comes to strong visuals, fantasy and sci-fi have numerous, memorable images. What do you think of when you think of Star Wars? Maybe a lightsaber? Maybe Darth Vader's mask? And what about Harry Potter? The fonts used in the books are now are universally recognizable.
The truth is, designers have the unique opportunity to bring ideas to life. And as tattoos become more and more popular, we're seeing firsthand how good art permanently impacts people. So, if you're a designer, a nerd, an ink addict, or a combination of the three, you've come to the right place. Allons-y!
Harry Potter Tattoo Art
Sign of the Deathly Hallows + Bear Patronus
We love this dark, watercolor style and minimalist outline. The colors and use of line give this image an ethereal aesthetic, perfect for a Patronus.
Small Elder Wand
Notice in this design how the “magic” is colorful, whereas the wand is very basic. We love this small but creative tattoo.
Minimalist Hogwarts Outline
While this tattoo seems simple, the castle boasts quite a bit of detail. The use of line and shape inside the wings gives this design an intricate look.
Detailed Hogwarts Sketch
Unlike the first Hogwarts tattoo we saw, this one really examines the finer elements of the castle's architecture. We love the use of shadow as well as the soft footprints—a creative tribute to the Marauder's Map.
Realistic Harry Potter Design
We are in love with this hyperrealistic Harry Potter design! Notice how the artist even captured the shadows and lighting from the original image.
Space & Time Tattoo Art
Realistic Darth Vader
We can't help but be amazed at this intense Darth Vader tattoo. The red background and sheen on Vader's helmet add great dimension to this design.
The simplicity and efficiency of this tattoo is amazing. Using only shapes and lines, the image is still immediately recognizable.
Retro Star Wars Scene
Through specific choices in color, as well as the illustration style of this tattoo, this image has a great, retro feel.
Millennium Falcon Design
There are only a few colors at work here, but they are excellent choices, in our opinion. We love how the red and blue make everything else pop.
Live Long and Prosper
We love the finer details in this piece, like the rosy cheeks, waved hair, and lit uniform.
To Boldly Go…
This tattoo boldly goes… well, you know the rest. The gradient roses and shadowed ribbon give this image a traditional tattoo look.
Beam Me Up, Scotty
Similar to the tattoo above, this ink mixes old-school text and imagery with Trekkie goodness. We especially like the gradient Starfleet Insignia.
This tattoo compilation features Spock from Star Trek and Fry from Futurama. We like the combination of art styles and the similar cool color schemes.
I Salute You
Above is an excellent example of minimal tattoos at their best. With the use of bold lines, this Vulcan salute tattoo has tons of texture and perfectly represents Trekkiedom.
This tattoo features Star Trek favorites over a unique representation of space. The starry skies are drawn in small clouds and outlined with various colors. This is a great, efficient way to show the vastness of space through art.
A Big Ball of Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey
This vivid ink features numerous colors and details, including the TARDIS, a Dalek, and swirling space. The variety of colors and textures gives the art several impressive layers of dimension.
This tattoo features a Dalek surrounded by multicolored roses. Not only do we love the design and details on the flowers, but one has to wonder if these blooms represent companion favorite, Rose Tyler.
We love this colorful Doctor Who tattoo, which features a sketch-style TARDIS over a watercolor background.
Etched 11th Doctor
This etched Matt Smith has incredible detail in every aspect, from his Tattersall button-up to his iconic hair. We especially like the eerie aesthetic.
Villains of the Doctor
This tattoo features infamous Doctor Who villains, such as a Cyberman, Weeping Angel, and The Supreme Red Dalek. The representation of space is especially interesting, with the use of complementary color combos, like blue and orange and purple and yellow.
Bigger on the Inside
Every Whovian knows the TARDIS is famous for its dimensional transcendentalism, making it a larger-than-life favorite among fans. This tattoo represents the Doctor's beloved ship in a fun, cartoon way, especially with its Cheshire Cat swirls.
The Name of the Doctor
Above is a tattoo of the Doctor's name written in the language of the Time Lords, Gallifreyan. The watercolor style in this tattoo has a vanishing look, which nicely accents the dark lines of the characters.
Disney Tattoo Art
Why get one Disney villain tattooed when you can get a whole collection? Not only are we enjoying the colors in this evil design, but we also appreciate the uniform style throughout (an impressive feat when considering these villains are all from different movies with different character design!).
The Magic Castle
While sentimental designs can be deeply intricate (as we've seen above), they can also be small and simple. We like that this design works as both a castle outline and a clean tattoo.
The Great Stone Dragon
Mulan fans will appreciate this tattoo of Mushu. The bright colors and soft outline give this tattoo a fun, youthful look.
Traditional Chinese art often depicts aspects of nature, such as trees and blossoms. This Mulan tattoo takes the characters we love and appropriately adds detailed imagery of flowers and plants.
We saw how one small tattoo could capture the Disney Castle using just an outline. In the same way, this Bambi ink perfectly depicts Bambi's likeness, using only soft, one-tone lines.
Faith, Trust, and a Little Bit of Pixie Dust
This colorful ink perfectly captures the magic of Disney's Peter Pan. The realistic lighting on Wendy's dress and John's top hat gives the tattoo several layers of dimension.
Second Star to the Right and Straight On ‘Til Morning
If you're familiar with Peter Pan, you know the directions to Neverland. This tattoo provides a detailed, stylized map of the secret place where children never grow up. There's plenty to admire in this tattoo, from the compass rose to the individualized icons. We especially like the eerie effects on the clouds and the stippling used to shade the design.
Colors of the Wind
Pocahontas has a very specific visual style, and this tattoo captures it perfectly. The color palette, composed of purples, pinks, oranges, and blues, are a wonderful callback to the beloved Disney song.
Disney Mythical Creatures
This collection of tattoos features favorites like Genie, Sulley, and Mike Wazowski. The bold outlines and realistic lighting give these characters an authentic feel.
Itty-Bitty Living Space
We love everything about this tattoo, from the colors to the multiple gradient effects. Additionally, the unique outlines in this design give it a stamped look.
Cartoon Network Tattoo Art
Blossom & Bubbles
While these tattoos look simple enough, there's quite a bit of detail work in each. We love the overlapping bubbles, clever outlines, and unique shading.
Okay, okay, so maybe Rick and Ice King aren't always heroes, but even they have their moments. We love the uniform, semi-psychedelic feel of these tattoos, which feature Rick from Rick and Morty, Dexter from Dexter's Lab, Ash from Pokémon, and Ice King from Adventure Time.
Finn & Jake
These Finn and Jake tattoos are simple, clever “matching tattoos,” proving details aren't always necessary in great design.
Not only are these swords cleverly laid out in a symmetrical design, but each sword has the illusion of sheen, thanks to the the shading and lighting in each illustration.
C'mon, Grab Your Friends
The bold outline of this tattoo makes it unlike any other tattoo in our list. We love contrast of the dark lines and negative space. And the image is pretty cute, too.
Steven & Lion
The black and white outlines on this Steven Universe tattoo really make it pop. Notice the difference between the solid images in the foreground and the gradient crystals and clouds in the background.
Graphic Novel Tattoo Art
While the Batman insignia has evolved over the years, the outline of a bat continues to be synonymous with Gotham's hero. This calligraphic bat is simple, but the strokes vary in size, making it a unique and interesting design.
This Superman tattoo makes great use of space and saturation. The details in the background are designed with softer tones, whereas the imagery in the foreground is much bolder in its use of color.
The Marvel vs. DC debate doesn't apply to this fan, who has a little bit of everything in her tattoo. The bright insignia colors give the symbols a vintage feel, while the shading and edges make this tattoo an incredible optical illusion.
Not only does this tattoo feature the iconic Marvel font, but it features favorite characters such as Deadpool, Wolverine, and Iron Man. The small details around the letters give this tattoo a unique, graffiti aesthetic.
This sleeve features Batman and Spiderman in a classic graphic novel art style. The multicolor, gradient skyline and the details make this tattoo one-of-a-kind.
Video Game Tattoo Art
This tattoo features Big Daddy, a BioShock favorite. We love the incredible detail work in this ink. The colors, though minimal, also provide some great contrast.
Old-school Nintendo fans will appreciate this airbrush-style design of Mario and Donkey Kong. We like the simple outlines and creative shading.
If small designs are more your style, this Mega Man tattoo may be your new inspiration. Notice how the flower gives balance to the image both in size and color.
This unique design features Mario dissolving into pixels, a creative throwback to the classic version of everyone's favorite Italian plumber.
The use of dark tones and extreme shading provide this Link with plenty of depth and dimension.
Metal Gear Solid
This beautiful sleeve is an incredible tribute to the long-running favorite, Metal Gear. Notice how the images overlap and how the colors bleed into each other.
A Soldier's Best Friend
This clever yet simple tattoo references a common Metal Gear theme, in which Snake frequently uses a cardboard box to avoid detection.
This tattoo creatively uses shadow and light to create an eerie, smoky design.
This Fallout-inspired pinup tattoo is a clever tribute to the game's unique art style. Notice how all the individual materials portrayed in this design are illustrated with specific precision, giving the ink a classic, detailed look.
Etched Vault Boy
Fans know the Vault Boy is the face of Fallout, and we love this sketchy, hand-drawn tattoo of him. The scribbled style of the shading is also a great detail.
This “bleeding” Pokémon tattoo simply and colorfully portrays Pikachu and Ash. We appreciate the creativity within such a simplistic design.
Gotta love this one-of-a-kind design of Pikachu, which features an view into the head of everybody's favorite Pokémon. The detail of the skull is a nice touch, especially compared to the plain, turquoise triangle in the background.
This Spirited Away tattoo perfectly blends symmetry, content, and color to create a visually appealing tattoo. We also love the Spirited Away classics, like the soot sprites and No-Face.
This impressive sleeve includes a number of memorable Miyazaki characters. Interestingly enough, the characters are done in mostly neutral colors, while the backgrounds are vivid hues. We love the look of this tattoo (and all the characters included!).
Kiki's Delivery Service
This amazing tattoo features a silhouette of Kiki and her cat, Jiji. We love the backlighting effect, as well as the watercolor sky. Kiki's bow is also a sweet choice for this piece of ink.
In anime, “Magical Girl” features entertainment with–you guessed it–magical girls. These tattoos feature throwbacks to Sailor Moon and Pokémon using sweet colors and rich, happy imagery. Perfect for any magical girl (or boy).
Did we miss anything? Tell us about your nerdy tattoo designs in the comments below.