Ah the armband. While the once popular tattoo style has fallen out the spotlight in the past, lately it’s been making quite the comeback on the arms of gentlemen across the globe.
Ages ago, traditional tribal armband tattoos weren’t the only way to distinguish a man’s role or rank among a group of people. The truth is, their purpose was often associated with a variety of different meanings not to mention, materials too.
In historical times, like the Bronze Age, armbands were actually make of bronze and jet, a minor gemstone formed from petrifying wood under tremendous pressure. Of course, back then the metal band took on a slightly different name of “arm ring”.
However, even with the passage of time you’ll still find arm rings in use by Kandyan drummers of Sri Lanka who celebrate an age old tradition. And if you look back in Sri Lankan history you’ll find stories of brides wearing armlets to keep bad luck at bay.
In medieval times during jousts, knights wore scarves or kerchiefs around the arm to show an emotional affiliation or conviction for his lady. If you’ve ever wondered where the phrase “wear your heart on your sleeve” comes from, there’s your answer.
Traditions aside, armbands can be found all on the arms of men from all walks of life including the military (a brassard), press, sporting teams and more. Interestingly enough, the modern meaning of distinguishing what group, team, rank or role someone belongs to, has literally the same connection to the past.
With that said, there are a lot of different reasons to get an armband tattoo. Sure, historical times rarely warranted tattoos and instead opted for cloth and metal, however, if something is important to you, why not get it inked permanently? After all, that is the point of tattoos to begin with.
Take a moment to explore these top 70 best armband tattoo designs for men below. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of ideas to wear upon your sleeve ranging from classic to cool, modern and more.
1. Dotwork Armband Tattoos
This is an expertly executed piece of tattoo art that would have taken double the amount of time it’s size would have you think. Using such two divergent ideas – blackwork and dot work – come together to make a beautiful geometric theme. Every part of this tattoo screams quality.
The dotwork shading in this 3-levele armband tattoo is fantastic. The top image on its own is interesting, using angles exceptionally well to create depth and style within the confined space. The other two bands are showing off in the best way. Here, time consuming dot work is employed stylishly to create very different shapes on the subject’s forearm.
This type of band tattoo is found on the forearm and is made up, at least to some degree, of the dotwork technique. This technique is an interesting and unique way to form a tattoo on the skin by means of a collection of tiny dots.
Many of such tattoos have more than one band and only some of them are made of dotwork. Others are simply one solitary band made using the technique. The dotwork is often only applied to a portion of the band or bands. That being said, this is by no means a rule or limitation and ultimately the dotwork method can be done in more than one way.
The specific placement of this tattoo on the forearm is also important. On the forearm, a band (or multiple bands) is in a position that is fairly straightforward. In other words, it is not only easy to conceal or show, whichever the particular man wishes to do at a particular time, it is much more. Primarily, for example, it is also incremental in the sense that it is often quite aesthetically pleasing. The dotted forearm band tattoo is both interesting and appealing.
2.Tribal Black Band Forearm Tattoos
Designed in a variety of styles, tribal black band forearm tattoos are consistently creative and impressive. These fantastic works of art showcase different signs and symbols in unison with solid black bands. Sometimes these symbols are found between the bands, other times within.
No matter how they are formatted, however, tribal black band tattoos are definitely something that can carry a great deal of value. The meanings of their symbols are not always apparent but there is no doubt that they always carry a great deal of significance.
3. Eastern Inspired Forearm Band Tattoos
This is a high-flying armband tattoo. It’s a showpiece because it uses difficult techniques to pull off the mosaic tile effect. The line work is precise, crisp, and well-drawn. The dot work is painstaking, and the seemingly effortless creation of clearly defined geometric patterns is a testament to the artist’s keen skill level.
Using zero space effectively is a skill that separates competent artists from the very best at tattooing. The quality of this seemingly simple black tattoo is found in the artist’s use of non-tattooed areas to make flawless patterns and shapes on the interior of the armband.
4. Geometric Forearm Band Tattoos
These tattoo bands, coming in multiple different ranges of thickness, are often mesmerizing to see as a viewer. In a similar way they are surely badass pieces of ink to feature on one’s arm. These tattoos come in many different designs and patterns and often represent much more than one might think.
They may appear to some as mere bands of neat and badass-looking collections of shapes. In all actuality, however, they are truly meaningful and often mesmerizing pieces of body art.
5. Innovative Forearm Band Tattoos
Some forearm band tattoos are not only interesting and unique, they are also innovative. This can be true in the sense that they accomplish new feats of tattooing artistically or even just aesthetically. Tattoo innovation can also be seen in the way that an artist executes a piece when it comes to the creativity or distinctiveness given to that piece.
6. Christian Forearm Band Tattoos
While many tattoos make references to God or any other type of religious or spiritual beliefs, some are much more direct about it than others. This is certainly true for forearm band tattoos as it is for many other types of ink.
Christian forearm band tattoos often incorporate different aspects and well known signs of the Christian faith such as a cross or other common symbol found amidst the Christian faith and tradition. These tattoos mean a great deal to many people as they may serve as a reminder of one’s spiritual direction or religious convictions.
7. Negative Space Forearm Band Tattoo
Some forearm band tattoos display significant signs, shapes, symbols and other characters of meaning but in a different way from those mentioned previously here. That is because instead of using the ink of the tattoo to form such symbols, shapes, etc. they essentially do the opposite.
These tattoos make great use of the negative space outlined by the ink rather than the ink itself. It is a creative and powerful way to bring out a desired piece of art in a band tattoo by means of a different approach.
8. Black Ink Armband Forearm Tattoos
A simple play on geometric design can form effective armband tattoos. This artwork is only six narrow yet solid bands tattooed around the inner forearm. It’s a crisp, fresh grouping of bands done neatly and spaced efficiently.
Tribal armband tattoos were hugely popular in the early parts of the century as ink became a more accepted part of mainstream culture. This piece is reminiscent of that style – thick black barbs etched in a tight circle around the forearm just below the elbow.
Technical Innovative Band Tattoo Ideas
This unique matching set of hatches is a cool armband design. The days are marked off in a variety of different styled groupings to form a nice piece, simple dot work creates a border at slightly different points of both artworks.
The key to this minimalist armband is the use of different line work – plus the colored and hollow dots – to effectively highlight the major, thicker armband running through the image. It immediately conjures a latitude/longitude vibe when you look at it.
This decorative armband tattoo uses a stencil format to create a thick, clean black tattoo. It’s similar in design to borders on frames, plant pots, and even household ceramics.
This Aztec inspired ink brickwork is cool. The major element of this piece is the shading, done with a dot work focus rather than traditional black gray. The line work in this art captures the artist’s focus on attention to detail.
Well executed minimalist armband tattoos are very funky, and this body art is a tremendous example. It mixes a simple, single line band around the arm with a group of flat black birds to create an arresting image.
The effective geometric shapes created with singular lines of black makes this patterned armband quite unique. It’s a simple but useful technique to create a series of interesting shapes.
This is a wider style of armband tattoos for men. It looks much like a gladiator’s bracer or armguard. The tattoo uses a good mix of black line work to create clear, well defined shapes within the image, supported by effortless gray and negative space shading.
The piece in this image uses a nice gradient of color steps from vivid red through to black. Parts look almost looks like dipped litmus paper. The way the color has been applied by the artist makes the brighter red parts of the tattoo reflect a permanently raw wound.
This tribal piece is a work of real technical skill. A single needle has been used here, giving it the crispness of lines and pattern inside the band needed to flaunt the artist’s skill, while zero space is also effective in shaping the design.
This tattoo uses an interesting pattern, but the most impressive part of the piece is how clean and fresh the line work looks. If you put it against the older tattoo below the contrast in quality is like night and day.
Nature Band Tattoo Ideas
There are a lot of elements to this spectacular armband tattoo. It utilizes classic black work throughout, but also mixes a smart array of different needle patterns to create different styles of shadow and line work in the skin. The way the sky is inked has an almost fish scale quality to the shade work.
Great use of soft color in the fox to make the mountain band a nice piece of art. The soft hue helps the fox blend into the rest of the image and suggest a mountain stream, especially with the way it’s been shaded to create a cascading effect in the fur. The line work at all stages of this artwork is precise.
Armband Tattoo FAQs
What does a solid armband tattoo mean?
Solid armband tattoos traditionally pay tribute to a lost loved one, in the same vein that black armbands are worn by athletes memorializing the death of a club great or personally important figure.
The black tattooed armband allows the person to remember their loss through acknowledging the body art representing their memory.
What are other reasons for getting a black armband tattoo?
Remembrance is not the sole reason individuals choose to get black armband tattoos. In tribal cultures – such as the collective tribal tattoos of Polynesia or older cultures of South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent – they represent strength and courage or are part of a wider geometric pattern that’s important to symbolic themes such as traditional balance between life and death
At other times a black armband tattoo can be most effective in covering up old or poorly drawn previous tattoo pieces, such as barbed wire or poorly drawn Celtic armbands. They are also hugely popular with tattoo collectors that love using circular designs and geometric use of alternating black ink and negative space.
How much does an armband tattoo cost?
Small armband tattoo prices can range from $150 for the barest designs – think minimalist line work done with single outlining needle – to as much $1000+ for more intricate, complex work such as dot work armbands or bio-mechanical themed armband design.
Average pricing sits between $150 – $200 per hour. Highly skilled, in demand artists can charge up to $500 per hour, while apprentices and less skilled artists are as little as $75.00 per hour.
Remember a 15% tip is the average, but 20% for quality work is highly recommended, and always make sure you clarify pricing with your artist before sitting down to get inked.