Tattoo Talks: 28 Eye-Catching Bartender Tattoo Ideas for Engaging Bar Chats

Tattoo Talks: 28 Eye-Catching Bartender Tattoo Ideas for Engaging Bar Chats

Shoutout to the tattooed (or soon-to-be-inked) bartenders having a think over their next bartender ink—we've got some fantastic bartender tattoo ideas for you that will intrigue, captivate, and ignite conversations with patrons and fellow bar staff alike.

Can bartenders even have tattoos? Absolutely. Gone are the days when having tattoos and piercings were seen as inappropriate and intimidating in the workplace—now, these forms of body art and self-expression are widely accepted in the bartending and service industry, where individuality is welcomed and even encouraged.

A tattooed bartender
Source: Gratis Graphics

 “Yes, tattoos are generally accepted in the bartending industry so long as they are not offensive, but it largely depends on the employer’s policies and the establishment’s dress code,” shares Joe Shaw, veteran bartender and founder of Bartender Planet.

Whether bartenders can have tattoos is a question of the past. “In fact, in most establishments it’s more common to find bartenders that have tattoos than those without,” Joe says.

Bartenders are front and center when it comes to customer interaction, so they’ve got to make sure they’re well-presented, professional, and ready to make that charming first impression. When it comes to bartender tattoos and piercings, it’s important to check with the establishment’s dress code and rules (obviously, offensive and inappropriate tattoos will not be allowed).

A bartender with tattoos—a common sight in an industry of creatives
Source: Pexels

“Even in establishments with strict dress codes, most tattoos can be covered up by wearing a long sleeve shirt, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt your chances of securing the job,” says Joe.

Bartenders’ arms are prime real estate for conversation-starting tattoos
Source: Flickr

As to why bartenders get tattoos—“Bartenders don’t get inked to be cool or to follow a trend,” says food, beverage, and travel writer Rich Manning. “They tend to be expressive, iconoclastic people with a penchant for creativity, who work in an industry that embraces their spirit fully.”

Many passionate bartenders decide to get inked, and while their tattoo designs can be anything under the sun, Broken Bartender and Ex-Bacardi Ambassador to Southeast Asia Mitchell “Kai” Lum says that you’ll find “three big themes within the bartender culture.”

These are pineapples (a sign for hospitality); cocktails, barware, and brands (Negroni, anyone?); and bar logos of places they’ve managed or worked for.

Besides the critical triumvirate, Broken Bartender has chosen some conversation-starting bartender tattoo ideas for your perusing pleasure (and future inspiration for your next ink!). Check out all 28 designs below.

Source: RawPixel

[Match your body art with statement pieces from Broken Bartender’s stylish clothing and cheeky accessories collection for bartenders with an attitude.]

1. Pineapples for hospitality

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bartender tattoo idea: Pineapples

No self-respecting list of bartender tattoos would be complete without the pineapple, the universal sign for hospitality.

This dates back to early America, when trade routes to and from the Caribbean Islands were perilous and slow. In those days, it was considered an incredible achievement if a host were able to procure and serve a ripe pineapple to their guests.

Bartenders love getting pineapple tattoos as a sign of their dedication to their craft and to the hospitality industry. Personalizing the pineapple is the fun part—throw a little personality on it and make it your own!

Why this design will get people talking

Guests at the bar won’t be able to resist commenting on your personalized pineapple bartender tattoo. While pineapple tattoos are a fairly common sight in the hospitality industry, customers and guests who are unfamiliar with its significance will be delighted to learn something new!

 

2. Read it right both ways

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bartender tattoo idea: Ambigrams

Ambigrams, words or pictures that can be viewed both right side up and upside down, are a trick for the eyes—and for the brain.

This tattoo style has to be cleverly done to fulfill the desired effect, like the “No Religion” ambigram tattoo pictured here. As for the message—you choose, but this could work, too. As we all know, it’s usually best to avoid tipsy politics- and religion-based bar chats (try telling bartender jokes instead!)! 

Why this design will get people talking

Ambigrams are like visual riddles, like a mystery waiting to be solved, right before your eyes. People will love trying to figure it out and view it both ways.

3. Full sleeve for the full effect

Source: Flickr

Bartender tattoo idea: A full sleeve

Tattoo-wise, there’s nothing quite as eye-catching or visually impressive as an expertly done full sleeve with one unifying theme, like this impressive Maori arm tribal tattoo sleeve. As we all know, full sleeves are one of the most sought-after and revered tattoo types.

Traditional tattoos like this one (and the popular Polynesian tiki tattoo) are a bold and gorgeous way of expressing one’s culture, background, and spirit.

However, you don’t have to go tribal with your sleeve. You can go in any direction you want and express any art style, but remember this—the arm is prime real estate when it comes to bartender tattoos, so think it through before it’s immortalized on your skin!     

Why this design will get people talking

Full sleeves turn heads. They’re hard to ignore. They’ll be on full display (unless you’ve hidden them away) as you serve them your superbly mixed cocktails.

4. Classical artwork, anyone?

Source: Flickr

Bartender tattoo idea: Classical artwork

That beautiful visage tattooed on the back of the hand resembles the ethereal face of sculpture and artist Michaelangelo’s Madonna in his masterpieces Madonna of Bruges and Pieta.

You don’t have to choose classical art—any tastes vary, so go with a style that you connect with the most, that captures your attention and holds it. 

For a beautifully done classical art piece, you have to find a skilled tattoo artist with a deft hand and an understanding of the art of the era.

Why this design will get people talking

A mere glance at the Madonna’s serene face (and at the skill of the artist—look at that shading!) as the barman hands the customer a drink is sure to elicit nothing less than a gasp or intake of breath. Conversation follows naturally from there, as people love to share their views on art and their personal styles.

5.   Make it interactive

Source: Pexels

Bartender tattoo idea: Interactive tattoos

One of the best tattoo ideas in this list, this interactive tattoo is an incredibly fun bartender tattoo idea that is bound to invite lots of fun (might be a bit too much for some!) and interaction with others.

While the tattoo in the photo isn’t in a spot that any decent bartender should be flaunting at work, having a piano on your arm would definitely invite some curiosity.

Another trendy interactive tattoo idea gaining popularity is tic-tac-toe board, which can provide some good old-fashioned fun. 

Why this design will get people talking

Interactive tattoos are meant to be interacted with, so get ready for people to be curious. No one should touch you without your consent (regardless if you have a piano on your arm!), so make sure to uphold your boundaries at the bar. One thing is certain—this bartender tattoo design will get people talking!

6. Beads or body art?

Source: DeviantArt

Bartender tattoo idea: Tattoos in place of jewelry

Wearing jewelry while serving up drinks isn’t a no-no, but all bartenders with experience know that certain types of jewelry (especially anything long or dangling) can mysteriously and dangerously find its way into customers' drinks (or at least dip in and out of!).

Don’t give up on wearing jewelry behind the bar just yet—adorning yourself with a tattoo in place of jewelry, like the beads in the photo above, is a great idea for bartenders. They get to wear the designs they love, there’s nothing to worry about—no clasps or beads that might fall or break—and bartenders can focus on creating delicious drinks for their thirsty customers. 

Why this design will get people talking

When someone gets a piece of jewelry tattooed on them, it normally carries with it a certain significance, and people won’t be able to resist asking about it. 

And it’s beautiful to behold! 

7. Barely-there finger quotes

Source: Flickr

Bartender tattoo idea: FInger quotes

This cheeky bartender tattoo idea is perfect for those who don’t want their tattoos to be front and center.

As bartenders' hands feature so much in their work, these finger quotes can come as an intriguing surprise.

In this case, “Sit vis vobiscum” is Latin for “May the force be with you,” and if you know, you know (Star Wars Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi would be proud)!

You can take inspiration from this and choose any quote that resonates with you for your own finger quote tattoo.

Why this design will get people talking

It’s mysterious, to have a secret quote curling around your fingers, asking to be read and to be asked about, so don’t be surprised if you invite any curious questions.

8. Body mural

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bartender tattoo idea: Body mural

Our next bartender tattoo idea is not for the faint of heart (or for the stingy with skin space). It’s about all-out commitment to a big and beautiful tattoo (we’re talking about a body mural here!).

While someone is the proud owner of this incredible ocean scene on their arm, you can choose your own adventure, as they say.

Be brave. Think big! Again, check with your employer about specific rules on tattoos. In places that prefer tattoos that are not too visible, you can always cover up with a sweater or a jacket (though it would be a shame to hide a masterpiece like this!).

Why this design will get people talking

This tattoo design idea is big, it’s arresting, it’s full of life, and it’s impossible to ignore. They won’t be able to resist a look, a gasp, or a comment!

9.   Inspired by the sciences

Source: DeviantArt

Bartender tattoo idea: Science- and math-inspired tattoos

For your next bartender tattoo, why not go with something science- and math-based? These tattoos are clever and can be beautiful, too, like the Fibonacci sequence, pictured here in a lovely conch-like spiral on someone’s forearm (great spot for bartender visibility!).

The Fibonacci sequence is a mathematical sequence (in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers) that manifests itself in various natural and artistic forms, like the branches of trees, music sequences, flower petal arrangements, architectural structures, anatomical patterns, spiral shapes, and more.

While it makes for a gorgeous tattoo, there are so many other artistic inspirations to draw from in the world of science and math, from plants and animals to outer space and the world under the sea.

Why this design will get people talking

A science- or math-based tattoo is bound to garner interest because it’s not the usual subject matter for a tattoo and is therefore unique. Plus, you never know when you’ll encounter a fellow nerd or science whiz in the wild! They’re bound to strike up a conversation with you if they spot your intelligent ink.

10. Make it macabre

Source: Moa Király on Unsplash

Bartender tattoo idea: Slightly macabre and gothic tattoos

We’re going in a completely different direction with this next bartender tattoo idea. For those with darker interests, whimsical macabre and gothic tattoos (like the delicately drawn safety pin spearing that juicy eyeball depicted in the photo on the woman’s hand) are a fun way to express your devilish side.

While this is a great art category to play around and create in, bartenders or anyone in the service industry have to be careful—visible tattoos have to be inoffensive and appropriate for the workplace, so don’t go too dark with your next tat (or do, but be prepared to keep it hidden during shift hours)!

 

Why this design will get people talking

Tattoos depicting something slightly dark are often a favorite of artists whose minds work in different ways. An eyeball speared by a safety pin—or something of the like—will definitely invite interest.

11. Collecting logos

Source: Flickr, enhanced with Canva

Bartender tattoo idea: Bar logo tattoos

Many bartenders choose to get tattoos of bar logos they’ve managed or worked for—jobs and people that have left an impact on them.

Bar logo tattoos are extremely personal. They represent more than just work; they represent time spent, connections, relationships, and cherished memories.

Why this design will get people talking

People are curious creatures, and some might even recognize the bar logo, which can lead to interesting conversations.

When commenting on bartenders’ tattoos, however, bear in mind that for some bartenders, bar logo tattoos are similar to having tattoos of one’s ex on their body—they’re definitely a touchy subject! 

12. The power of a single word

Source: Harsh Aryan on Unsplash

Bartender tattoo idea: One word statements

Female and male bartenders looking for their next tattoo idea might want to think about going with strong, one word tattoos, like the one picture above.

In this case, we don’t know what “Choice” means to the person who got it tattooed on their forearm, but we can’t say we’re not intrigued.

Make a strong statement with one word that means something to you. One word that captures who you are or that encapsulates an experience or time in your life. One word tattoos may not be fancy (though you can definitely play up the design!), but they stand out from the rest.

Why this design will get people talking

Words have power, and they mean different things to different people. A single word can be a strong message, and it can be a powerful mantra. Your word of choice may just be something that resonates with someone else, so keep your eyes and ears open for anyone wanting a word on your word. 

13. Put a face on it

Source: Adrian Ordonez on Unsplash

Bartender tattoo idea: Portrait tattoos

Having tattoos of faces (not tattoos on your face!) is a pretty big deal in the world of ink, because you have to be an incredibly big fan of the person(s) whose visage is getting immortalized on your skin.

In this case, we recognize American heartthrob actor James Dean on the right, and is that world famous guitarist Carlos Santana on the left? Looks like it.

You don’t have to go with well-known individuals for your portrait tattoos—many people choose family members and even pets (the way to go, in our opinion!). Just remember to choose a good tattoo artist who specializes in portraits.

Why this design will get people talking

When done well, a portrait tattoo is impressive and can garner much admiration from anyone who lays eyes on it, not to mention curiosity as to the subject of the art. It won’t be too long before someone will ask, “Who’s that?” (a great conversation opener!) to one of your portrait tattoos.

14. What’s your zodiac?

Source: DeviantArt

Bartender tattoo idea: Zodiac signs

Not everyone is into astrology, but expressing oneself in the form of a bad-ass animal that you feel represents your personality and character is pretty cool. 

You can personalize it and make it a representation and extension of yourself, like the neatly done line-art capricorn tattoo above.

Why this design will get people talking

“What’s your zodiac sign?” is a question people often ask when getting to know each other. The night we met, my partner and I, both strong Scorpios, connected over the fact that our birthdays are right next to each other.

It’s easy to see how a glimpse of a zodiac sign tattoo could spark a chat between bartender and guests (as well as other staff members!).

15. Abstract ideas

Source: DeviantArt

Bartender tattoo idea: Abstract tattoos

When picking out a style of art for your next tattoo, you might want to skip over the more obvious and popular styles—like tribal, classic pin-up, or Japanese art (all wonderful art styles in themselves)—and think about going in a more modern direction, like abstract art.

Clearly depicting a samurai, this tattoo artist used unconventional, abstract techniques to create this visually arresting piece of art.

Why this design will get people talking

When skillfully done, abstract art can be exciting for the eyes—interesting because of how different it is from the norm, and expressed in a different way. People won’t be able to resist talking about the unique design of your abstract tattoo.

16. Travel with your tattoo

Source: Gregorio Nuti on Unsplash

Bartender tattoo idea: Maps. countries, and cities

While this map of the world tattoo is obviously a back tattoo (and shouldn’t be visible while you’re bartending, unless it’s a shirtless event, which would be unusual), its concept is simple and timeless.

Travel-loving bartenders looking for tattoo ideas for their next tattoo might want to consider a map of the world, a country silhouette, and even a city. If you love New York so much, why not be loud and proud about it and make it permanent?

Why this design will get people talking

It’s easy to relate to others when it comes to travel, and playing the where-have-you-traveled game always leads to conversation about interesting destinations and adventures. Everyone’s got a favorite travel story (or three!) that they’re always ready and eager to tell, so this is one conversation that can keep on going.

17. Say it in symbols

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bartender tattoo idea: Significant symbols

When designing your next bartender tattoo, consider using symbolism to express deep meanings, important moments, or special people through your body art. Symbols can be integrated into different designs and can make tattoos deeply personal.

In the piece above, we have the eight-point star (called an “octagram” and used in many mythologies), the wheel of a ship (relating to finding one’s journey and path in life), and an eye (used in many cultures to ward off evil and give protection), not to mention a number of triangles that could represent a many things.

Drawing inspiration from your own culture, background, and experience is the best way to design your own symbols tattoo.

Why this design will get people talking

One of the most commonly asked questions directed at people with tattoos is the old “But what does it mean?”

Symbols in tattoos are intriguing to people; they invite conversation, and they can also be understood across different cultures, bringing people together through stories.

18. A love for bartending

Source: Pexels, enhanced with Canva

Bartender tattoo idea: Favorite cocktails, barware, or brands

Speaking of symbols, bartenders who want to commemorate their love of bartending might get their favorite bartender symbols in ink (like the martini tattoo above).

They enjoy showing their affinity to their best cocktails, their signature drinks, a favored spirit brand or two, a shaker, bar spoons, and maybe even some garnish.

Why this design will get people talking

People love quirky tattoos—they invite curiosity, questions, and interesting conversation. And when folks are at the bar, liquid courage often makes them more curious (and often bolder), so don’t be surprised if they ask about your tattoo.

Bartending-related tattoos often have a story attached to them, and bartenders might even share it if asked!

19. Biomechanical surprise

Source: Flickr

Bartender tattoo idea: Biomechanical tattoos

Enter the age of the cyborg. We’re already there with the latest technologies that are basically already a part of us—incredibly powerful mobile phones that can do everything, wearable devices that know the inner workings of our vital organs, and more. 

It’s no surprise then that biomechanical tattoos like the one above are all the rage, designed to look like skin ripped away to reveal the robot within.

Why this design will get people talking

Biomechanical tattoos are visually intriguing (especially when expertly done with depth and shading), so don’t be surprised if you get many comments (and compliments!) from guests and fellow staff alike.

20. Color shock

Source: Flickr

Bartender tattoo idea: Vibrantly colored tattoos

While not everyone’s choice of ink (black tattoos still seem to be the most popular), vibrantly colored tattoos like the gorgeous one above know how to make a strong statement.

These bright, eye-catching pieces could be anything—flowers, in this case—and could be placed anywhere.

It’s important to remember, however, that colored tattoos tend to fade more easily with sun exposure and time, so think carefully before committing to a colored piece. Future touch-ups might be necessary to retain their vibrance, but they sure do stand out!

Why this design will get people talking

People are like magpies—we enjoy bright and shiny things. In a bar, a vibrantly colored tattoo on a bartender would be very hard to miss (and almost impossible to not comment on!).

Get ready to answer questions (and field compliments!) about your gorgeous, bright tattoo. 

21. All dogs (and cats!) go to heaven

 
Source: DeviantArt

 

Bartender tattoo idea: Pet tattoos

I think we can all agree that this is one of the best and most popular tattoo ideas on the planet—immortalizing our dear furry friends and furkids in beautiful and artistic tattoos like the one above. What a goodest boy!

Pet tattoos carry such deep significance and are often the most favored of all tattoos. To ensure your dog’s or cat’s (or other animals—we don’t discriminate!) memory is saved and cherished (and so you don’t end up with a crappy tattoo), we suggest you take some time to shop around for a tattoo artist that can best capture their essence in a style you like.

Pet tattoos aren’t reserved only for pets who’ve crossed the rainbow bridge—your furry best friend or fur baby would make the perfect subjects for your next bartender tattoo!

Why this design will get people talking

When it comes to pets, people (ourselves included) lose their minds with love and affection. A tattoo of a beloved pet or fur baby will make anyone (except those in possession of the hardest of hearts) melt—you’ll definitely get plenty of “aww!’s, compliments, and some hearty conversation to follow, because who doesn’t want to talk about pets? 

22. Depth perception play

Source: Flickr

Bartender tattoo idea: 3D tattoos

Using shading techniques, tattoo artists are able to create art pieces in 3D, playing with our sense of depth perception. This Mayan arm piece is incredible—it looks like it’s embossed on his arm!

For your next bartender tattoo, get creative with depth perception. If you have a design in mind, you can work with the tattoo artist on making your masterpiece come to life on your skin. 

Why this design will get people talking

When done right, tattoos that deceive the eyes with depth perception tricks are mesmerizing works of art—you’re going to get a lot of comments on this type of tattoo!

23. Immortalize a scene or a memory

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bartender tattoo idea: Memories

People often get faces of loved ones or significant words as tattoos, but what about capturing memories? Those special and pivotal moments that remain vivid in our minds, immortalized as experiences, every detail and engraved in our memory.

WIth the help of a talented tattoo artist, you can turn your most cherished memories into works of art that you can physically see and wear.

Why this design will get people talking

You don’t often see a whole scene out of real life depicted on skin, and there’s no doubt it’ll make people wonder about the inspiration and real story behind the art.

24. A flair for the dramatic

Source: Flickr

Bartender tattoo idea: Transformation

This bartender tattoo design is one of the best on this list. If you’ve got a flair for the dramatic and want something out there, something with a bit of shock and awe, something that will set you apart—this one’s it.

Transformation tattoos like this one are extremely clever and fun. His hand tattoo, when placed over his face, transforms him into a skull-faced monster with a snake for a tongue—and it’s not only well executed, it’s scarily good.

 

Why this design will get people talking

This will be a popular one at the bar—it’ll make customers jump! This is one tattoo idea that people will definitely want to know more about (after they’ve recovered from the shock!).

Transformation tattoos don’t only need to be scary; they can be any theme you desire. It’s like having your own masquerade mask or disguise!

25. Make it functional

Source: Flickr
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bartender tattoo idea: Functional tattoos

This one is for the bartenders who like to have their to-do lists on hand—literally. Whether you’re ultra organized or desperately needing help, this awesome tattoo idea could work for you.

Use it for work, use it for home, use it for the groceries—this might be the most helpful tattoo ever designed! Make it your own in any way you wish, but use it.

Functional tattoos are not limited to to-do lists, but I daresay it’s a brilliant idea and everyone should get them!

Why this design will get people talking

When they see this, people will be curious and will want to go out and get their own. Writing on one’s arms is something we’ve all done since childhood days, so there’s something nostalgic and comfortingly analog about this type of functional tattoo. 

26. Unexpected real estate

Source: DeviantArt

Bartender tattoo idea: Elbow tattoos

Elbows are awkward places, so why not turn them into the site of your next tattoo?

While you might not be able to look directly at your own elbow (except for in the mirror!), everybody else will be able to see them.

Elbow tattoos, like the one above, are hardcore—the elbow is one of the more sensitive spots on the arm for getting inked. 

Why this design will get people talking

As we said, the elbow is an awkward place to get a tattoo, but it’s always visible (unless you’re in long sleeves), and that can invite some fun conversation with folks at the bar.

27. A classic touch

Source: PickPik

Bartender tattoo idea: Sailor tattoos

Some might say that old school pin-up or sailor tattoos have had its day, but classics never die!

A cleanly done colorful sailor tattoo, like the oldie but goodie knife-through-the-heart “I love you” tattoo above, can cut a unique figure among the more hipster and modern style of tattoos we see today.

If this style resonates with you, here’s some inspiration for your next bartender tattoo!

Why this design will get people talking

Simplicity speaks volumes, and sometimes it’s the simple and honest designs that get people interested and talking. Details and drama work for some people, but others prefer to keep it clean.

28. Illusions, illusions

Source: Flickr

Bartender tattoo idea: Illusion and special effects tattoos

Speaking of drama, our last bartender tattoo idea for your viewing pleasure is not for the quiet of spirit or faint of heart—it’s the illusion tattoo. It’s not a trick of the eye, it’s not real (or is it?)—it’s an extremely well done optical illusion tattoo, like this scarily real tattoo of a man whose skin is ripped and cut in parts to reveal writing beneath.

Illusion and special effects tattoos certainly don’t need to be of the macabre ilk, but most of them are. Your illusion tattoo can take any different artistic direction. You’ve just got to be bold enough to wear it on your skin!

Getting this type of tattoo is a big decision. Also, don’t forget to check with the establishment you work for regarding rules. The shock and awe effect might not be welcome in some establishments, but you can easily pull on a long-sleeved shirt or jacket. 

 

Why this design will get people talking

This needs no explanation; these illusion and special effects tattoos will blow people out of the water with how incredible—and real!—they look. People won’t be able to take their eyes off them, and you'll be the talk of the night. Every night.

 

[Pour pints and proudly display your tattoos in Broken Bartender clothing and accessories designed for a bartender with a sense of humor.]

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