When I think of back tattoos I picture huge, intricate designs packed with meaning and a story throughout. Giving your back to an artist is such an honor, it is your biggest canvas and takes many hours to complete. Because our spines are home to a large number of sensory nerves, it can be quite a painful spot to get tattooed.
If you’re thinking of getting your back tattooed, come prepared. A blanket, some snacks, and some approved painkillers might come in handy. Let’s take a look at some ideas for back tattoos for men:
Traditional backpieces are one of my favorite tattoos of all time. They take a special kind of relationship between artist and client to complete as many hours need to be spent to complete a back.
I love the focal point of this tattoo which is a sacred heart. This tattoo has a fair amount of religious imagery which is common for traditional backpieces. The line work is so clean and the black shading is very bold and well-saturated. I like the extra smaller tattoos around the bigger pieces. Flames, blood drops, and traditional stars make excellent fillers! All of the individual pieces fit the flow of the back perfectly
Dragons make for such killer full backpieces and are commonly seen in Traditional Japanese tattooing. Dragons are associated with strength, wisdom and the force of good, and this tattoo captures those traits perfectly.
The design is so bold and striking. I love the large areas of saturated black in the scales and the beautiful bright flames. If you’re a fan of this tattoo, check out our 20 Chinese Dragon Tattoos
3. Tibetan Mask
Tibetan Masks symbolize living a life filled with compassion and love – the perfect tattoo for the biggest canvas on your whole body.
This tattoo is extremely well executed. The best part is the way that the petals of the chrysanthemum frame the back. The shading is so soft and the teeth look so pointy and realistic. I especially like the addition of the skull on the headband of the mask
4. Sci-Fi Tribal
This tattoo stood out to me because of its marble-like texture. It is so striking and fits the flow of the body perfectly.
The line work along the sides of the tattoo is very clean and precise. The black is extremely well-saturated, and I like the painterly texture in the open parts. The artist labeled it as “Sci-Fi Tribal” and I think that description fits it perfectly. If you like this style of tattooing, I suggest you check out our list of 21 Stunning Blackout Tattoos
5. Realistic Skull
You’re not a die-hard fan of tattoos if you don’t have a skull tattoo. I am absolutely obsessed with this back tattoo. The imagery works perfectly together with the grim reaper representing death and the roses representing life.
The artist took a lot of care and consideration in designing this tattoo to fit the client perfectly. I love the contrast between the heavily saturated black and the lightness in the skull and the roses. I especially like the addition of the spit strands coming off of the teeth.
Wings are a timeless tattoo to get on your back, where wings would be if you were an angel. I’ve seen quite a few in my life time, and most have not been very well done. But this one is the exception!
The artist cleverly worked with asymmetry with the drips coming off of the wings. I adore the texture of these wings – it feels like I can reach out and touch them and it will be course, rough feathers. The tattoo fits the body perfectly and will age well with time
7. Colour Traditional
Another really cool American Traditional back piece with religious imagery, I can’t get enough of these. The brightness of the colors and the heavily saturated black work really well on this client.
I love the way they have framed this tattoo with the angels around the top of the back and the more decorative bottom section. I especially like the texture of the cross and the way the artist illustrated the waves. A clean, bold, and impressive tattoo!
I absolutely love the flow of this tattoo. The artist strategically incorporated a lot of different elements into a clean and concise tattoo.
I especially like the heavy Medusa at the top of the back and how perfectly it ends off with the snake wrapping around the dagger. I enjoy the soft shading and the amount of open skin left in this tattoo
9. Fine Line
The thing I like the most about this tattoo is that it is not symmetrical, but the two sides speak to each other. It has a Greek theme to it which is becoming increasingly popular in the world of tattooing.
These tattoos are all extremely clean. I like the soft illustrative shading and the boldness of the text. It suits the rest of the tattoos that this client has on his arms very well.
This tattoo is a slightly more feminine approach to a geometric back tattoo and it suits the client so well. The artist really took flow and form into consideration when designing this tattoo.
I really like the scarab beetle on the top of this design and the limited use of line work throughout. The mandalas on the shoulder blades balance perfectly and the one in the center has been done with beautiful, delicate dot work shading. I especially like the extra detail of the big dots ending the piece
This is one of the coolest blast-over tattoos I have ever seen. Blast-over tattoos are literally a tattoo on top of an existing tattoo, as opposed to cover-ups that aim to cover the old tattoo.
I have a traditional bulldog tattoo and it has quite a similar vibe to this one. I love the cheeky little teeth peeking out the side of his mouth and the spikey collar. The black is very well-saturated and the bold lines are extremely clean
This tattoo is simply stunning and likely packed with meaning for the client. I would imagine a tattoo of this size took upwards of six hours to complete, so kudos to the artist and the client!
The design fits the body extremely well, with the building coming to a point at the top of the back and the wide steps at the bottom. The line work is so detailed and intricate, but it has enough room to breathe so that it doesn’t end up looking cluttered. One of my absolute favourites on this list!
13. Church Scene
This tattoo is absolutely incredible. The figures all look like they have been carved out of stone and the building has so much depth and dimension.
It fits the shape of the body perfectly. Hands and faces are notoriously difficult to tattoo and each of these is beautifully executed. The fabric, and detailing in the cathedral are delicately tattooed. An absolute masterpiece!
Back tattoos don’t have to be huge to make a statement. For a lover of plants, this is the perfect tattoo.
I like how it flows with the curves of the back muscles and how it comes onto the chest. I like that the leaves have some texture to them and aren’t just solid black as it gives them a more natural feel. If you like this tattoo, I suggest you check out our list of 22 Beautiful Plant Tattoos.
15. Abstract Cactus
I am a sucker for abstract tattoos. They definitely have a playful and free feeling to them and this one is no exception.
I love the symmetrical background and the asymmetric cactus in the foreground. The very bold lines contrast beautifully with the thinner detail lines. It is fun, textured, and interesting to look at!
Who says flowers are only for women? Magnolia flowers represent perseverance and endurance.
This tattoo is a perfect example of how great flowers can look as a back tattoo. I especially like the addition of the thorns and the organic leaves. I like the contrast of thick and thin lines and the soft dot work shading.
Another cool abstract back tattoo! Some people may think that these tattoos are a bit haphazard and child-like, but they are in fact very difficult to do.
I love the flow that this design has, with the heavy top and bottom balancing each other out. I like the thick, bold lines juxtaposed with the fine dots. The big, red circle is so eye-catching and unique!
This is such a badass, clean tattoo. I love how the chain wraps around the shoulder and ends on the side. I also like the extra piece coming off of the sides of the chain links – I would imagine getting it with that would hurt like hell!
I just love how geometric back pieces fit so well on the client. The use of panels can work with any body shape.
I like how the artist chose to frame the existing mountain and wave tattoos. The gradient from dark to light shading across the whole tattoo adds a dynamic element and prevents it from looking flat. I especially love how it comes up and onto the back of the neck, ending it perfectly
Script works extremely well along the spine for both men and women! I appreciate that this artist chose a bold line weight – it packs a punch and speaks to the chosen font. The line work is extremely clean and this tattoo is placed perfectly
I absolutely adore calligraphy tattoos and this is no exception. The line work is very clean and the black is solidly saturated. This tattoo makes such a statement and I love that the client chose to have it so big and bold.
I got tattooed by the same artist who did this Dark Lettering back piece, so naturally, I had to include one of her incredible designs.
Lettering works extremely well as an upper back tattoo, especially if the word has an uneven number of letters as you can emphasize the middle letter, making it stand out and shape the top of the back perfectly. I love the contrast between the black smudged letters and the open skin. The addition of the spider webs and the moon gives it a creepy feeling.
This tattoo reminds me of the story of Icarus who flew too close to the sun.
The placement for this tattoo is fantastic. I love how the artist chose to illustrate the fabric wrapped around the figure. The muscular definition is incredibly realistic, and the feathers are soft and delicate. There is good contrast between the figure and the wings
Lightning was the weapon of choice for Zeus, and lightening bolt tattoos represent intuition, strength, and enlightenment.
This tattoo captures those traits perfectly with bold lines and dynamic placement. I especially like the smaller lines coming off of the streaks of lightening and the flow that this tattoo has
25. Large Rose
This tattoo makes such a statement. I love it when clients take a design that’s usually done quite small and blow it up to this kind of size.
I like how it flows across the entire back and the addition of the dark black shadow bringing the rose forward. I like the addition of lots of thorns on the stem and the softer shading throughout with minimal line work
I believe this tattoo is a cover-up which makes it even more impressive. The tiger is ferocious and there is a lot of additional cool elements to it.
I especially love the claws and the teeth in this tattoo, they are so detailed and sharp. The contrast between the orange in the tiger and the blue in the skulls is spot-on and vibrant. I love the Neo-Traditional take on the fur and the blank eyes.
27. Traditional Abstract
I love this tattoo because of how interesting and dynamic the design is! There is so much to look at that you won’t get bored of this one.
I especially like the small details like the plant coming out of the tiger, the stones around the grass, and the bricks next to the staircase. The color palette is super clean and traditional. I like the bold lines and the large areas of saturated black