150+ Teardrop Tattoos With their Meaning

A teardrop tattoo isn’t for everyone and people who chose to get it usually have a good reason to. It’s the kind of tattoo that leaves a statement. There are a lot of different theories when it comes to this tattoo. Some people think that the tattoo just represents death and killings but that’s not the only reason why people get the tattoo.

There is a history of the tattoo and TV shows and movies certainly helped o bring a long the theory of people getting the teardrop tattoo while they were in prison. There is a lot of interest when it comes to these tattoos and people are intrigued more about what they see on TV than the actual history.

There is a natural fascination when it comes to prison and a lot of people like to hear the stories about what goes on in prison, that’s why prison shows are so popular. There is a certain culture that goes along with living in prison that people like to hear about. There are certain rituals that go on behind bars and that is every but as intriguing. If you’ve never known what it’s like to go to prison, then that’s where the curiosity comes from. Many people like to have that taste of danger without ever being in danger. They can sit on their couches, in the safety of their own home and still get the excitement of prison life.

We not only have a bunch of great pictures that can inspire you with your own tattoo but we are going to dispel some myths about the tattoo and educate you on why people get this type of tattoo:

There are actually a few rappers that have the tattoo and it’s typically part of a persona that they are giving off. These tattoos are also often seen in gangs.


Simple tattoos like this aren’t that noticeable.

Tattoos in Prison

When it comes to prisons on TV, something that we see a lot is the teardrop tattoo. Even though we do see it a lot in prisons because of that stereotype, the actual history of the tattoo is a little more realistic.

Face tattoos seem to become more popular as the years go by. It used to be something that only thugs sported but these days we even saw celebrities such as Post Malone and Justin Bieber wearing them as well. It’s not just criminals that enjoy the tattoo any longer. Whether it’s in prison or not, these tattoos come with a lot of meaning. When it comes to gangs or even men in prison, the idea behind the teardrop tattoo is that gang members have to perform different crimes in order to earn the ink that makes them belong either in prison or in the gang.

The Symbol of the Teardrop Tattoo

The meaning behind the teardrop tattoo out in the world is very different than in a prison.

Does It Matter What Side of The Face the Tattoo Goes On?

You might not think the side of the face matters but whichever side is chosen does have a different meaning. When it comes to United States prison, whatever side you have the tattoo on means something different. If you have the tattoo on the left side of your face it means that the person has committed murder. Now, tattoos on the right side of the face are usually associated with a death of a family member or friend. So that’s why it’s important to know which side of the face you are putting the tattoo. When it comes to murders, it is also stated that the more teardrops, the more murders.

You never want to make an assumption with someone’s tattoo especially if you are in prison. These types of tattoos are often personal and should be respected.

Outline or Solid Teardrop

You may have noticed that there are different teardrop tattoos, you can either get a solid one or an outline of one. So, what’s the difference? If we are talking about prison tattoos, it is said that thee outline means that the murder was attempted but not completed while the solid one is a completed murder.

Where Did These Tattoos Come From?

The origin of the tattoo comes from a Mexican gang member which was in the United States corrections system. The references of the tattoo date back well into forty years ago. Certainly, the roots of the tattoo go back much further than that but the tattoo first got a taste of mainstream attention when an article was published in the New Yorker in the ’70s.

What is the Tattoo Process in Prison?

You might be surprised to know how often people get tattoos in prison especially since it’s illegal to do so. The tools that are needed to make a tattoo are considered contraband and prisoners are disciplined if they are caught with these tools. It’s not hard to believe that it might get boring sitting around behind bars so some prisoners tend to get creative when it comes to giving each other ink on the down-low.

Where Do They Get The Ink From?

Again, they have to get creative but you might be surprised to find what people learn about when they are in prison. They obviously can’t get real tattoo ink while they are in there so they have to get creative. By melting plastic, Styrofoam, and even burnt ash mix with soap or shampoo will work. Definitely not the best items to put in your body but that’s what the prisoners are used to.

Now they need to figure out how to apply the ink. They would need a sharpened instrument in order to get the ink in the skin. Paper clips or safety pins have been used often to puncture the skin. From there, they rub the ink into the would to create the tattoo. It’s a simple way of getting a tattoo that you want and we have to give it to the prisoners for finding creative ways of doing it.

There are many ways that prisons create tattoo machines. Some use repurposed pencils, scavenged magnets, sharpened guitar strings are some options that have been used for a tattoo needle. Often guards will confiscate these from the prisoners and we have to admit that the prisoners really go a long way to try to get a tattoo.

There is of course a risk of getting a prison tattoo. Because of the poor hygiene in prisons, they take a risk of getting infections and bloodborne pathogens.

What You Need To Know Before You Get A Tattoo:

There is a lot to consider before you get your tattoo especially if this is going to be your first one. A teardrop tattoo is usually a facial tattoo as well so you want to make sure that you are sure you want to make that commitment. Some people have gotten the teardrop tattoo on their fingers but that’s certainly less common.

Before you set up a consultation with a tattoo artist, you need to make sure you have your core idea down pat. When you go there, that’s the time to get the finer details out of the way. But teardrop tattoos are pretty small and straightforward ideas so the consultation will likely be short. You can even bring in a picture of what you are looking for to make the process easier. The consultation is also used to determine pricing on your tattoo.

A mockup is usually done at some point whether right at the consultation or sometime before your appointment.

A lot of things come into place when your tattoo is being discussed:

  • Where you want it placed.
  • How much of your body you want to cover with it
  • How much time you are with the artist
  • How well colors will show up on your skin

What To Look For When Choosing An Artist

So, you’re ready to get a tattoo, that’s a big step and now that you know what design you want, that’s half the battle. The next thing you need to do is find an artist. You might think that you can just walk into any tattoo parlor out there but that would be a mistake. Not all tattoo artists are created equal and you need to understand that before you pick one.

A great suggestion would be that you ask around to your friends to see what experiences they have had and if they have any recommendations.

There are some things to keep in mind when you look for an artist and a tattoo shop:

  1. The Artist and Shop Should Be Licensed

Different countries and different states will have different rules when it comes to licensing so if you aren’t sure, try to look it up. A quick Google search will help you with that.

The shop and artist should also have certification to do tattoos, so check into that as well. Artists will usually display that on their wall in the shop or on their website.

  1. Make Sure The Shop Is Clean

You want to make sure that the artist and the shop are clean so watch out for general hygiene and health habits in the shop. You don’t want to be getting a tattoo in a dirty establishment because that’s how infections happen. The best shops to go to usually smell like disinfectant and will have spotless floors and workstations. If it smells bad in the shop, you need to get out of there.

If it does pass your inspection, then you need to talk to the artist about their practices. Artists are required to use special tools while tattooing. Single-use needles are required so that there is no cross-contamination. They are also required to use razors, bandages, gloves and swabs.

  1. Check Out Their Professionalism

You want to see how they operate professionally. When it comes to getting a tattoo, you have to remember that you are trusting someone to tattoo something permanently in your body, so it’s really important that you trust the right person. You want to be comfortable with the artist and the work that they do.

If your artist isn’t excited to tattoo your idea, then they are probably not the right person for the job. They have to at least be able to understand why you love it so much. Artists also aren’t required to work with you just because you want to work with them.

If you don’t feel comfortable with them, then you shouldn’t work with them. Just find someone who makes you feel comfortable and who wants to tattoo your design.

Teardrops On The Finger

You might see some teardrops on the finger from time to time. The most common teardrop tattoos are on the face but sometimes you will see them on the finger. The people that get the tattoo on the finger have usually gone through a personal struggle, tragedy or trauma. It represents possible mourning or depression in the person and it’s all very personal to the wearer.

The teardrop can have many different meanings, it’s not always about gang symbols and prisons. These tattoos have a lot of meaning to them and when it comes to making this personal choice, you have to know why you are doing it. That’s a decision you make for yourself.

Teardrop tattoos are definitely one of kind and it’s going to draw attention because of people’s pre-conceived belief in what the tattoo means. Some will know that it means a loss while others will believe it’s for gang crimes. You have to take that chance that people might have the wrong assumption of what your tattoo means.

At the end of the day, it’s your tattoo so don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about it. as long as you are happy with your tattoo, that’s all that matters.

We hope you found some great ideas here and we would love to hear about which ones you loved the most.