The way that we humans have expressed ourselves has changed over the years. Back in the days when technology’s latest advance was the steam engine or perhaps the motorcar, people expressed themselves through writing journals, poetry, novels, and the like.
People would buy into the idea of social status, and the quality of your attire and the jewels you wore would help to express your value. However, as time has a habit of relentlessly beating on, these ideals soon changed. The subtleties of self-expression soon faded, and people wanted to perform on stage and become a star, ushering in the era of reality TV.
Then came the age of social media, blogs, and podcasts where anyone and everyone can have a platform, and I believe that this societal change and the rise in importance of self-expression has led to a much larger portion of the population embracing the formerly taboo activity of getting tattoos, myself included.
We as a culture love nothing more than expressing our love for our respective passions, and if you are a Twitter user, you will probably fight tooth and nail to have your opinion heard and understood. Well, a tattoo is a constant visual means of letting people know ‘I love this.’
It’s something that so many fandoms have embraced, and one such fandom is the Pokemon Franchise. There are countless Pokemon Trainers walking around with one or more of their favorite Pocket Monsters on their skin, and I, for one, think that it’s awesome. I should, because I’m literally one of them.
So with this in mind, I thought that I would help fight the good fight, help keep this societal change towards healthy self-expression moving in the right direction, and help all you Pokemon fans find a Pokemon-related tattoo that fits your style and preference.
There are so many to choose from out there, but I’ll try my best to only include the best of the bunch. So without further delay, here is our Best Pokemon Inspired Tattoo Ideas guide. Enjoy!
Before You Get Inked
I love a spontaneous tattoo as much as the next guy; honestly, I think that 50% of my tattoos were created through decisions made the night before, or even while watching friends getting tattoos. However, my first few tattoos certainly weren’t like that.
They were carefully planned out, hand-picked, and adjusted until I was 100% happy, and if you are in the same position where this will be your first tattoo, I would urge you to take a step back and consider a few things before you sit in the chair and bear the pain. Here are some things you might want to nail down to make sure your Pokemon tattoo is just right:
First up, think beyond what Pokemon you want to include in your design and think about what kind of style you want to use to bring your Pokemon tattoo to life. There are so many different styles out there, and the medium of tattooing is ever-evolving.
However, there are a few nailed-on styles that many tattooists tend to be a specialist in. Here is a list of the most popular styles so you can do a little research and find the one for you:
- Stick and Poke
- New School
Color vs. Blackwork
Next up, you’ll want to decide if your tattoo is going to be an array of colors, or a distinguished, more subtle blackwork design.
Now, if I can have my say here, if it’s a Pokemon tattoo, I would say that in most cases, you will want to go with a color design as these designs tend to offer the most authentic renderings of the Pokemon you know and love. However, that isn’t to say that getting a blackwork design is wrong; it’s a case of different strokes for different folks.
Take me, for example, I have one arm for blackwork designs, and then the other is strictly color. You may not want to do that, but that’s how I separate things. No matter what you choose, just make sure that you are happy with the design, try to think ahead to future tattoos, and try to picture what other designs will gel with the one in question. If you can’t picture any, then you may want to rethink things and maybe test out the design with more, or less color.
Size and Placement
Next up are size and placement. This is one that will largely depend on the design you have in mind, as some designs can’t exist if you don’t give them the room they need, while others can’t express enough detail if you make them too small.
I often say that it’s more about where you are in your tattoo journey that will dictate this. If you are off to get your first ever tattoo, chances are you won’t be getting a full back piece. Whereas if this is your 20th tattoo, then you may well be sitting down for a day-long session to get a huge design.
Ultimately, your tattooist will usually steer you in the right direction here and make necessary adjustments. However, just as a little tip from me personally, start small to medium and work your way up.
You don’t want to be halfway into a day sit and end up having to book in for multiple sessions and walk around with unfinished work, or worse, never get it finished at all because you couldn’t handle the pain. Just do what you think is right and know your limits.
Then lastly, and in my opinion the most important part, picking the right artist for the job. You need an artist that you feel comfortable with, that creates a hospitable and inviting environment, and that is open and receptive to your proposed changes and tweaks.
You also need an artist that can see the vision that you have for the tattoo, and in this case, having a tattooist that is familiar with Pokemon could be a great call. Then lastly, you need an artist that works in the proposed style that you want.
For example, you don’t go to a fine-line blackwork specialist and ask for a bulky, traditional color piece. Well, you can, but you really shouldn’t, and most artists will often redirect you to a more suited tattooist.
If you are interested, the three artists that I allow to draw all over my body are Bad Tooth, Brittney at Zombie Doll Tattoo, and Giraffe Stairs Tattoos, who always do an amazing job and make the whole process fun and enjoyable. So get yourself an Em, Brittney, or Andy!
Okay, now that the tattoo-related admin is done and dusted, let’s nail down some selection criteria to ensure that the picks on this list are worthy of your time spent scrolling the length of this article. Here are my selection criteria listed below:
- No duplicate Pokemon designs; need to keep things varied
- All designs must be of the utmost quality, so no doodles and no hack-jobs
- All designs must relate in some way or another to the Pokemon franchise
- These designs must be well-placed and appropriately sized
- No simple designs that literally just show Pokemon sprites; I’ll try to keep things fresh and unique
Okay, Pokeballs at the ready, it’s time to head into the tall grass and find ourselves some cool Pokemon tattoos!
Best Pokemon Inspired Tattoo Ideas PokUniverse Team Pokemon Tattoos
My Personal Entry
We begin with my own Pokemon-related tattoo. It’s not the most unique or outlandish design you will see on this list but it suits me down to a tee. I wanted a Pokemon tattoo that captured the nostalgic feel of the GBC era where I first encountered the Pokemon series, and this Pokemon Yellow-inspired design does the trick.
It reminds me of my time spent in Kanto, the incredible gimmick that allowed Pikachu to follow you around in-game, and it also makes a nod to Ash and Pikachu’s relationship in the original Pokemon Indigo anime. There will be much more intricate designs to come, but for you fans who want something retro and minimalist, you are welcome to steal my look!
Individual Pokemon Tattoos
Starting off simple here, we have a tattoo that kind of looks like concept art for Mew and Pikachu, but truthfully, I included this one because this style could be applied to just about any Pokemon. It’s a great option for those that want a subtle blackwork design.
I’m a sucker for pastel colors and lots of them, so this bubblegum Mew design was something that I had to throw into this list.
This design is so cute and vibrant, and showcases one of the most powerful OG Pokemon around; what’s not to love? Also, the artist Bubblegum BooBoos does lots of other pieces like this, including more Pokemon designs, so you might want to check them out!
Be rootin’, be tootin, and by god, you best be shootin’. That’s the motto of the Poliwhirl featured in this design. If there is a reference here, I’ll be honest, I don’t get it, but I’m on board regardless. Plus, you have to admire the cute details like the Staryu belt buckle, for example. It’s cute, it’s colorful, and it earns a spot on this list!
Snorlax is a mood. He sleeps all day, he eats in excess, and when called upon, he’s a super powerful normal-type Pokemon. So when he wants to unwind, kick back and order some takeout (or hop in the noodles as if they are a jacuzzi), then I vote we let them do their thing. Awesome design, well worth checking out!
Is this twisted and sadistic? Yes. Is this perhaps a little inappropriate? Oh, absolutely, but you see, my personal brand of nihilistic humor simply won’t let me pass on this Psyduck-inspired tattoo where he was taken Rotom down to the pond. Gee, I wonder what happens next. Get Nurse Joy on standby, just in case.
Here is another fun blackwork option, and one you can apply to pretty much any Pokemon. Here we have Turtwig emerging from their Pokeball, and inside we have a terrarium of sorts, bursting with foliage and tall trees. You could do this with fire types with a volcano setting, or a shallow rock pool for water types. Honestly, the possibilities are endless.
Keeping the sadistic and twisted vibe from before going, we have this Magikarp-inspired tattoo where this unlucky Magikarp has been chopped up and served as sushi. Again, if you like this idea, you could swap out Magikarp for just about any water-type, but just because of the intense frustration that Magikarp has caused me when trying to train it into a Gyarados, I vote you keep it as is.
There are countless options out there when it comes to Cubone tattoos. Thanks to his sad backstory and cute design, they’re a nailed-on fan favorite. However, I went with this cool traditional design, complete with roses, a crying Cubone skull, and the script ‘Lonely.’ Oh my god, someone give that Cubone a cuddle, please!
It’s not really about the Pokemon here; it’s more about the concept. I’m sure at one time or another, we all had a denim jacket and took great pride in stitching patches onto it to showcase our deepest loves and passions. Well, how about you do this in tattoo form? When done well, these designs look so surreal and serve as standout pieces. I mean, just look at the attention to detail here. Are we really sure this isn’t a real patch?
At the time of writing, spooky season isn’t too far away, so maybe it’s time to get prepared with a Halloween-inspired Pokemon tattoo. I fully endorse this as it’s Halloween year-round in my home. This Mimikyu design is a great option and showcases this Pikachu-inspired ghost-pokemon brushing up on their incantations and wearing a cute little Pokemon-themed witch’s hat, lovely.
I always wondered how Pikachu remained the star of the show with cute Pokemon like Misty’s Togepi on screen, and I stand by the fact that Togepi is perhaps the cutest Pokemon Game Freak has ever conjured up. Dont believe me? Well, take a look at this design that wraps Togepi up nice and tight like a little Bon Bon. This tattoo would make even the most cold-hearted Pokemon fan’s heart melt. It’s incredible!
As you would imagine, there is no shortage of Eevee and Eeveelution tattoos out there. However, I picked this one as it’s a cool blackwork option, it’s a little less in your face than other designs out there, and it allows you to swap out the Eeveelution in the mirror for your preferred evolution. Mine would be Umbreon if anyone was wondering, but this Espeon design is pretty cool too.
Next, we have a design from my very own tattooist Brittney, who has done a great job of capturing the raw coolness of this member of the Squirtle Squad.
If you remember the original anime, then you remember the gang known as the Squirtle Squad. Just look at those shades, the stance; what about that doesn’t scream cool? Brittney also has a few other cool Pokemon designs, as well as designs covering some other fun fandoms, so go check her stuff out!
I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole ‘optical illusion in the form of a tattoo’ phenomenon, but this Golbat design caught my eye. It’s the blend of refined visuals and retro, pixellated visuals that lured me in. Which is exactly what a vortex is supposed to do, so I guess mission accomplished.
As a proud owner of a Grim Reaper tattoo myself, I get the appeal of making light of death, and this cute Duskull design does just that. I know the connotation here is that Duskull is a deadly ghost, but just look at their adorable little face; I just want to squeeze them.
If you were a kid that went down to the pond and collected tadpoles, or had a bug collection, then this design is right up your alley. Why would you use a Pokeball to catch Caterpie when you could just get them a nice, roomy jar to call home? I also can’t get enough of the floral arrangements and the Monstera leaves. So if you loved bug-pokemon in spite of their rather weak, non-competitive nature, then this is the tattoo you need!
This is another design where I don’t get how it came to be, and I may be missing the reference, but again, I don’t care because the design is cool. This one showcases Sudowoodo, a rather underrated Pokemon in my eyes, serving his best Count Dracula impression. Perhaps another candidate for a Pokemon-themed Halloween tattoo?
Another one that’s inspired by the Pokemon Anime Series. Here we have Dragonite doing his rounds and making deliveries, as is shown in the original anime and indeed in the first ever Pokemon feature-length film when Dragonite delivers Ash and the gang an invitation to Mewtwo’s Island. It’s a cool spin on a Dragonite design and one I fully endorse!
The Maneki-Neko or ‘Beckoning Cat’ is a Japanese symbol of greeting and the promise of great fortune. It’s generally placed in places where you feel comfortable, like your home or workplace. In short, it’s a wholesome Japanese custom.
So why not take this nice message and make it even more Japanese with an injection of Pokemon goodness? Here we see Meowth wishing us well and waving. Maybe he will use Payday and spread the wealth. Fingers crossed!
As much as I love a complex, detailed design, I’m a sucker for a silly minimalist design that takes no time at all to get done. This one is certainly the latter, but it’s still a quality design. This one shows Ditto, the sentient blob who can transform into whatever Pokemon he likes telling you ‘Be Whatever You Want!’ Now, if that isn’t the motivational quote you needed today, then I don’t know what is.
Then to wrap up the individual Pokemon designs, we have my favorite blackwork design I could find, and another creepy Halloween candidate. This one shows a very detailed and unsettling rendering of the ghost-type Pokemon Chandalure. The design has a gothic vibe of sorts, and while it won’t be to everyone’s taste, I think it’s top class.
Group Pokemon Tattoos
Moving onto the group Pokemon designs, and first up, we have this collage of surreal beast Pokemon designs. The standout one for me is the Vaporeon design with Magikarp hanging out of their mouth and Gyarados peering over the top, not to mention the subtle little nod to Wooper if you look carefully at the bubbles. These are really cool, and if you wanted to swap these Pokemon out for some others, you could create something really unique!
Of all the evolution cycle tattoos out there, the Gengar family tree is the one that pops up more than most, and for good reason because the designs all look incredible. This one was my favorite of the bunch, but there is a laundry list of options to choose from, so if you aren’t vibing with my choice, a quick google search will lead you to a cavalcade of other designs.
Much like the Gengar family tree, Eeveelution tattoos are very common online, but to shake things up a little and rep the original 151, you could try and replicate this design that only includes the original Eeveelutions, Jolteon, Vaporeon, and Flareon. It’s a fun spin on the usual Eeveelution tattoos out there, and a great way to show that you were around when Poke-fever was just kicking off!
In contrast to the Gengar Evolutionary chain, there are some three-stage evolution Pokemon that don’t get a lot of love, one of which is Tyranitar. However, if you are a huge fan of this Pokemon, then you are in luck. This one shows Larvitar, Pupitar, and Tyranitar braving a fierce sandstorm, and it’s done so perfectly that it makes me want to slap it on my arm right now!
Okay, so if you really want to do an Eeveelutions tattoo, that’s cool, but try to think outside of the box. Here’s a great example of someone that did just that by stuffing all of the Eeveelutions into a gumball machine.
I get that most of us know how to get the exact Eeveelution we want with careful training or using certain items, but this design brings me back to a simpler time when we had to work out just how Eevee’s evolutions functioned, you know, before the internet and game guides were commonplace. God, I’m old.
Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander get all the love when it comes to starter pokemon, but the generations that followed have given us some really strong, and super cute starters since. One such cutie pie is Piplup, a cute little Penguin Pokemon. How do you make a penguin even cuter, you ask? Well, you make their head the lid of a sippy cup, complete with a silly straw, and two additional Piplups on the side for good measure. Genuine cuteness overload.
Then lastly, for the groups, we have Ash’s original Pokemon party. Here we see Ash Ketchum hanging with his squad. Obviously not all of them, but I think they did Butterfree dirty leaving them out of this design. Putting that aside, though, It’s a great design and very well done.
Crossover Pokemon Tattoos
Want a pokemon tattoo but can’t settle on one fandom? Well, these designs are right up your alley, and we begin with a Pokemon meets Deadpool crossover. Here we see Charmander suited up in Wade Wilson’s garb, and doesn’t he look dashing? Just look at those chubby little legs. I get that those katanas are sharp, but how can I take him seriously? Go get him a chimichanga before he uses flamethrower on me, please.
Honestly, I included this just to address that this is something that exists on someone’s body. Do I suggest that you go out and get this tattoo? Absolutely not, but I will fight tooth and nail for your right to do so. As Ralph Wiggum would say, I ‘Choo-Choo Choose you, Pikachu!
For me, this is a match made in heaven as I love both fandoms here. It’s a subtle one, as most non-Ghibli fans will only see this as a Snorlax with an umbrella. However, those in the know will immediately see the Soot Sprites and the little marks on Snorlax’s chest and recognize the nod to Totoro.
Any Disney fans in the house? Well, this one is for you. This one shows Mew sitting atop Stitch, but he seems to be okay with it. It’s also a cool decision to use Mew here due to the compatible color scheme with Angel from The Lilo and Stitch Series.
Forgot Pokemon Sword and Shield, and think Pokemon wielding Swords and Shields. This design places Eevee smack bang in the middle of Hyrule, kits them out with the Master Sword, a Hylian Shield, and a cute Link costume, and shows them in the heat of battle. If I was Ganondorf, I would be quaking in my little boots seeing this one!
Poke-Vengers, Assemble. I know that the MCU is moving on from the original Avengers, and Infinity War was the jumping-off point for a lot of these characters. However, when the crossover design is quite as impressive as this, I can allow it. Plus, if you want to mix things up, make an Alakazam Dr.Strange, make a Garvantula Spiderman, or turn Zigzagoon into Rocket from G.O.T.G. Get creative!
Easily my favorite crossover, mostly because I love Calcifer with all my heart! This blackwork design features the adorable second-gen fire-type Cyndaquil, only the fiery inferno on his back is replaced with everyone’s favorite sentient flame, Calcifer from Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle. Someone might have to stop me from getting this one; it seems inevitable now.
Another Halloween offering for you horror fans out there. This one sees a very worried Pikachu being pursued by the terrifying clown, IT, played by Mr.Mine in this design. I love this idea, and the subtle details like the red balloon being replaced with a Driftloon, and Pikachu’s little paper boat. Honestly, take a bow.
Your Hogwarts house can tell a lot about a person. I’m a Slytherin, if you were wondering. Then equally, your choice of Pokemon team can speak volumes about your character as well.
So how about marrying these ideas together and changing the Hogwarts house logos to represent iconic Pokemon like Growlithe, Pikachu, Ekans, and Pidgey? Truthfully, I would have swapped a few about here, but the premise and tattoo quality are superb.
Squitles in a half shell, Squirtle Power! What is cooler than a pizza-eating, skateboarding Squirtle cosplaying as Michelangelo from TMNT? Nothing, if you ask me!
This design is incredible, and that’s down to the abundance of little details throughout, such as the nunchucks in Squirtle’s waistband, the Pokemon-themed skateboard, and the cityscape backdrop. Shredder doesn’t stand a chance with this guy patrolling the streets!
Pokemon Tattoo Sleeve Ideas
Moving onto large designs and sleeves, this one is amazing. It shows Squirtle and Bulbasaur taking a bath in an ancient forest pool. The water is flowing out of a stone-carved Gyarados, and the pair look like they are having a swell time. The placement, wrapping, and overall attention to detail are stunning here; just a shame Charmander couldn’t join the pool party.
Traditional Japanese sleeves have always been very popular if you want to fill out your entire arm, but what about adding some Pokemon flavor to the design? This one has the typical black background with red lotus flowers throughout. However, instead of a dragon or Koi, we have a very intimidating Gyarados bursting out at you.
Speaking of adding some Pokemon flavor, there are few Pokemon that know their grub better than Snorlax, and this colorful oriental design shows the gargantuan Pokemon preparing a really tasty-looking bowl of ramen, with his little sous-chef Charmander on hand to keep things spicy.
Paras, now there’s a gen-one Pokemon that gets practically no time in the spotlight. Well, I’m going to change that by showing off this incredible Paras-inspired sleeve. Here we see this fungi Pokemon just chilling on the forest floor, counting down the days until he evolves into Parasect and can really do some damage. This one is crazy colorful and well worth checking out!
Keeping the oriental theme going here with this next entry. This one is about as traditional as it gets, with the black background, the blend of green, yellow and red, and the customary swirling clouds.
However, instead of a dragon, we have a Charizard up in the clouds, remodeled with dragon scales to offer a more authentic look. Although, not to be a stickler, but Charizard isn’t a dragon-type. Jeez, guys, do your research.
Then lastly, for sleeves, we have this Jesse x James sleeve design that pays homage to the hardest working and most resilient criminal duo around. We all know that this Team Rocket pair have their spats, but the truth is, they love each other, and I think this design showcases that pretty well.
Miscellaneous Pokemon Tattoos
Moving on to the final section, the ‘best of the rest.’ First, we have a design for all those Poke-fans that really want to double down on the nineties nostalgia. This tattoo is like a time capsule that shows a Pikachu-themed Tamagotchi. Just throw in some Pogs and a cassette tape loaded with N-Sync songs, and you would have a complete 90’s themed sleeve going on.
Is there a particular battle that you remember vividly from your time glued to your Game Boy Color? Well, why not immortalize that battle in the form of a tattoo?
This showcases a battle between Charizard and Blastoise. Now, you’ll need to ignore the fact that both Blastoise and Charizard don’t evolve until level thirty-six, and the fact that Charizard would get bodied in this match-up, but in terms of the concept, it’s a super cool idea.
There are lots of folks out there that just want to get a simple Pokeball tattoo, and hey, I get it. However, if I could just nudge you towards something a little more personalized, check out these starter-themed pokeballs, which perfectly represent the Pokemon that are presumably inside.
Here we see examples for Blastoise and Charizard, but you could honestly do this with any Pokemon, so you do you!
Where is the love for the side characters that popped up time and time again in the anime series? An iconic one was the multitude of Nurse Joys that Brock drooled over every time the gang reached a new city. Nurse Joy has saved my butt countless times with a quick trip to the Pokemon Center, and if you want to show your appreciation, then you might want to consider a design like this one!
Then lastly, we wrap things up with these starter designs that represent the elements fire, water, and earth. This is cool and gives me real Avatar: The Last Airbender vibes, but if you do this one, complete the set. Throw a flying-type pokemon in there to represent wind.
Question: Are Tattoos Painful?
Answer: Is getting a needle stuck in you hundreds of times a second painful? Yes, the simple answer is yes. However, there are lots of factors that will change how painful it is.
The tattoo’s placement plays a part; whether you are well-rested and have eaten will play a part, and your general threshold for pain is also a key factor. You’ll never really know how sore a tattoo will be for you personally until you give it a go. However, a little advice, start small and work your way up.
Question: What Are The Most Common Pokemon Tattoos?
Answer: The good thing about Pokemon as a series is that there are literally over 1,000 Pokemon, so it’s quite easy to come up with a unique idea if you want to.
However, despite this, there are some common trends and designs that a lot of fans tend to land on when picking their Pokemon tattoo, and I’m not criticizing, because I have seen my own Pokemon tattoo countless times online and even met two people who have the exact tattoo. Here are some common Pokemon tattoo trends:
• A Pokeball
• Gen-One Starter tattoos
• Eeveelution tattoos
• Retro pixel Pokemon tattoos
• Pokemon Evolutionary Stages Tattoos
Question: How Do I Know I Want A Tattoo?
Answer: This is something that you will tend to instinctively know. If you have your doubts or are nervous about having a design on you forever, then this is usually an indication that the design you have in mind might not be for you. A rule of thumb I tend to use, or at least used to use before I had so many tattoos, was to keep a design in your thoughts for at least six months, and if you get through that period and you still want to get that tattoo, then I say go get it!