Tattoo Inspiration for Every Soul

Shell Tattoo Meanings And 25 Jaw-Dropping Design Ideas

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Whether you’re obsessed with all things ocean or simply wish to possess a permanent reminder of the best summer of your life, you might consider getting a subtle shell tattoo somewhere on your body. We’re bringing you a myriad of shell tattoo meanings and dainty designs to help you make up your mind.

Shell tattoos can mean many things, and you can always place your own special meaning on whatever shell tattoo you end up getting. With that out of the way, though, shells typically represent protection, peace, and overall health, as well as your admiration of nature and your desire to protect everything and everyone around you. What do you think of shell tattoos?

1. A conch shell tattoo on the upper arm

Credit: @die_monde

Shells are a great way for you to get a meaningful tattoo without going overboard. Whichever type of shell you decide to go with, you can count on both cultural and spiritual significance. A conch shell, for example, represents creation, power, and authority.

2. A tattoo of two shells on the hip

Credit: @delamartattoo

Two shells are better than one! The best way to go about getting a shell tattoo might be to pick a few that represent who you are and place them somewhere on your body where nobody can see them. Hip tattoos are perfect for that because they’re concealed – until you decide to reveal them, of course.

3. An alabaster shell tattoo on the upper arm


Alabaster shells are quite rare which might be one of the reasons why they’re a popular tattoo motif. After all, alabaster shells are seen as symbols of protection, healing, and health, and they’re oftentimes used when people want to commemorate tough times and loved ones who battle health problems.

4. A fine-line shell tattoo


If you’re not the biggest fan of detailed designs, you might be interested in getting a fine-line shell tattoo. It’s a great way for you to channel your inner sea goddess without going all out and getting a tattoo of a collection of shells. A fine-line shell tattoo represents your strength, resilience, and responsibility.

5. A nautilus shell tattoo on the forearm


Nautilus shells are strikingly beautiful and that’s why they’re some of the most popular shell tattoo motifs, too. A nautilus shell represents growth, expansion, and renewals, and can be a great way to celebrate new beginnings, new phases in life, and positive changes.

6. A hand-poked shell tattoo

Credit: @relodipokes

When you decide to bite the bullet and get a shell tattoo, don’t shy away from exploring different styles. Depending on your personal preferences, you might want to add even more meaning to your shell tattoo by going to a hand-poke tattoo artist. Hand-poked tattoos are made by hand (obviously!) and are oftentimes favored because they’re less invasive and they hurt a lot less than “regular” tattoos.

7. A spine tattoo of a collection of shells

Credit: @mirandaroseart

What about a spine tattoo of a collection of shells? Spine tattoos are super sensual and seductive, especially because they’re known to move with your body and accentuate the beauty of your back. So, you can opt for a spine tattoo of all of your favorite shells and see what happens.

8. An ammonite shell tattoo on the bicep


Ammonite shells are seen as symbols of change, development, and transition, and they’re oftentimes associated with the ancient Egyptian God Ammon.

9. A cockle shell tattoo on the ankle

Credit: @orlandokingstattoo

Scalloped or cockle shells are some of the most well-known shells out there! One of the most famous depictions of this iconic shell is seen in Boticelli’s famous painting, The Birth of Venus, and it’s the reason why we associate it with love, lust, and fertility.

10. A drill shell tattoo on the arm

Credit: @tattoobyaida

Drill shells are quite recognizable, too, although you might not recognize them by name. Depending on what type of shells you’re into, you might be interested in getting a detailed, delicate tattoo of a drill shell somewhere on your body.

11. A conch shell on the forearm

Credit: @delamartattoo

If you want to channel your inner femininity, power, and even feminine rage, you can get a tattoo of a conch shell on your forearm. It’s a great way for you to show off your tattoo without committing to having it on display at all times.

12. A tiny shell tattoo on the wrist

Credit: @soja.ttt

What about a tiny shell tattoo on the wrist? Whichever shell you decide to go with, you can make it as small and simple as you want. Wrist tattoos are almost always on display and that’s why you might want to opt for a more delicate design rather than a statement piece.

13. A nautilus shell on the ankle

Credit: @ray.arttattoo

Ankle tattoos are awesome because they don’t stretch when you move and they don’t sag when you get older. A nautilus tattoo on your ankle will almost always look the same and will make you feel like you’re ready to hit the beach and feel the sunshine on your skin at any given moment.

14. A cockle shell on the forearm

Credit: @the.tinyvegan

We already mentioned that forearm tattoos are perfect for people who want wearability and versatility. With a forearm tattoo, you don’t need to worry about not being able to conceal it in a professional setting or reveal it when you want to show it off.

15. A conch shell tattoo on the arm

Credit: @celesteciafarone

Conch shells are believed to be able to banish evil spirits, avert natural disasters, and scare away poisonous creatures. Contrary to popular belief, conch shells are powerful and potent and can make you feel like you’re on top of the world.

16. A soft and subtle shell tattoo

Credit: @mid.ttt

If you’re in your soft girl era, you might be interested in getting a subtle shell tattoo. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to go with a dotwork tattoo, a shaded tattoo, or a tattoo made with diluted ink.

17. A matching cockle shell tattoo

Credit: @sarmienttto

Shells are sometimes seen as beautiful treasures of the sea, but they’re much more than meets the eye. People believe that certain shells can protect them from evil spirits and serve as a bridge between the physical and the supernatural realms. So, you might want to get a matching shell tattoo with your besties to ensure you don’t get attacked by the unknown.

18. A linework shell tattoo

Credit: @romantic.gestures

If you’re a modern minimalist, you might be interested in getting a linework tattoo. Linework tattoos typically consist of a single line and are pretty abstract which means you might need a moment to figure out what they represent. If that’s your thing, opt for a linework shell tattoo.

19. A sticker sleeve tattoo with shells and a starfish

Credit: @letsbefrank_tattoo

Sticker sleeves are becoming more and more popular because they’re a great way for people to collect tattoos over a period of time. So, you might want to start an ocean-themed sticker sleeve with a cute little shell tattoo on your forearm.

20. A clam tattoo on the arm


Clams are oftentimes overlooked, but that needs to change. Clams represent strength, power, and patience. With a clam tattoo, you will get an omen of an upcoming situation requiring patience and be prepared for whatever life throws at you.

21. A softly shaded shell tattoo

Credit: @hidebyhide

Softly shaded tattoos are awesome for people who prefer a subtle look. Whether you’re getting a tattoo for the first time ever or coming back to continue your sticker sleeve, you can experiment with different styles to see what works best for you.

22. A collection of shells on the forearm

Credit: @mirandaroseart

Now, you can’t go wrong with a collection of shells, especially when you’re obsessed with all things ocean and can’t decide which shell to go for. Whether you opt for a forearm tattoo, a shoulder tattoo, or even a thigh tattoo, make sure you have plenty of space to work with, though.

23. A triton shell tattoo on the bicep


Triton shells are seen as messengers and protectors of the sea and the ocean. That being said, they’re a popular tattoo motif because they’re strikingly beautiful and they go well with whatever ocean-themed motif you opt for, too.

24. A tattoo of a shell with a pearl

Credit: @laurence.t.l

We can’t forget about pearl shells! Pearl shells are believed to attract prosperity, protect you from negative energy, and soothe you when you’re going through a tough time. Pearl shells are stunning, too, and they make for great sticker sleeve tattoos.

25. A cockle shell tattoo on the bicep

Credit: @delamartattoo

We’re ending the article with another cockle shell tattoo! Whether you devote it to your significant other to show your love or use it as a reminder of all the love you deserve, you can’t go wrong with a cockle shell tattoo.