150 Beautiful Pin Up Girl Tattoos (Ultimate Guide, September 2022) (2022)

We discuss pin up girl tattoo design ideas and inspiration before showcasing some of our favorite tattoos in this style from around the world.

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Images of pin up girls have always had a solid place among the top choices for tattoos, particularly for men.

Nowadays, pin up tattoo designs are going through something of a revival, gaining widespread appeal among people of all genders.

With a vintage look and a firm cultural background, pin up designs are definitely an option worth considering when looking for ideas for your next tattoo.

Read below for more on the history of pin up girl imagery, suggestions for tattoo designs and placements, and more!

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History of pin up girls

Although mostly associated with the pop culture of the 1940s and 50s, the history of the pin up girl imagery goes back to the burlesque theater of the 1800s.

Stylized images of actresses were sometimes used to promote certain shows, and often ended up being used as decoration.

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The earliest example of what we’d consider pin up girl art was the famous Gibson Girl – the subject of a series of drawings by Charles Gibson for Life magazine in 1895.

With an impossible hourglass figure, large bosom, full lips, dark hair piled high, and – most importantly! – an attitude, the Gibson Girl became the first pin up.

Fun Fact: there was also a Gibson Man, though as you may have guessed, he hadn’t reached the same heights of fame as the Gibson Girl.

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1917 brought another development in the cultural phenomenon that became the pin up girl: wartime propaganda.

Pin up-like images of women were used in the U.S. on posters during the First World War, with the aim of getting more troops to join the fight.

The posters would include stylized images of women, often in military-style clothing, and inspirational slogans.

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Recommended Next: Don’t miss our guide to mandala tattoos next!

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It was during the Second World War though that the pin up really took off. The idealized images of an all-round ‘American sweetheart’, attractive, scantily but not indecently dressed, again became the core of the American wartime morale-boosting strategy.

Pin ups were used on recruitment posters, calendars, and decorated the walls of military barracks – serving as a ‘reminder’ for troops serving overseas, a perfect image of the girl they would be coming back to after the war.

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During the war, posters of pin up girls would be bought or torn out of magazines and pinned to the walls of barracks and submarines, and the insides of the solider’s lockers.

This practice is where the term ‘pin up’ comes from – a picture of a girl to be pinned up on the wall.

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The war had ended, but the pin up girls stayed and continued to be popular during the 1950s.

The launch of Playboy Magazine in 1953 meant that there was now essentially a whole publication dedicated to pin ups, since early Playboy photo shoots matched the pin up style.

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Pin ups in contemporary culture

Nowadays, pin ups remain something of a staple of vintage pop culture and are instantly recognizable symbols of all things 1940s and 50s.

The personas and styles of certain celebrities, such as Lana Del Rey, Dita von Teese, and Katy Perry, closely resemble the pin up style – contributing to the continued popularity of pin up images and culture.

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Of course, pin up girl posters, calendars, and other merchandise are widely available, though they’re now something more of an amusing novelty or niche interest rather than the widespread cultural phenomenon they had been back in the day.

The gender politics implications of pin up girls are complicated and often disputed. To some, pin up girls symbolize feminine empowerment and independence, citing the rise of the pin up as a challenge to patriarchy.

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Conversely, others believe pin ups to be misogynistic and a way of objectifying women – focusing only on the erotic or sexual aspects of the female form.

It may be helpful to consider these issues if you’re looking at getting a pin up girl design tattooed on your body – some people may find it controversial.

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Important elements of pin up girl art

Whether pinned up to the wall or tattooed, pin up girls have certain identifying qualities that make them what they are.

  • The girl – You can’t have a pin up without the girl, after all. The typical image of a pin up girl will involve a shapely woman with an hourglass figure, a narrow waist, wide hips, an ample bosom, curly hair, and rosy cheeks. Full lips and large eyes are also an important feature, as is the clothing – vintage pin up girls would be highly sexualized through their scant clothing, but without turning into pornography. Short skirts, alluring dresses, stockings, high heels, and maid outfits form the top of the list. The pose taken by the girl in the image is important, too – attractive and seductive, showing off her shapes, but without being overly explicit or serious.

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  • Color – The most recognizable, vintage imagery of pin up girls always involved vivid colors. This trend has been largely preserved in pin up tattoo art, as pin up girl designs tend to be bright and colorful. Of course this isn’t a rule, though – there are some great-looking all-black pin up tattoos out there.
  • Additions – Props and other elements were often featured in vintage pin up art – most famously patriotic elements in the wartime propaganda era of the pin up. As far as tattoo designs go, pin ups girls are often combined with other imagery, such as floral motifs.

Recommended Next: Don’t miss our octopus tattoo guide.

Design ideas

Pin up girls tattoo designs come in a surprising variety of styles and forms.

Though the pin up girl is a complete image with a pre-defined look, many people opt for expanding upon the standard design or modifying the style. Common variations include:

  • Day of the Dead pin up girls – though it may seem like an odd combination of wildly different concepts (and on some levels, it is), pin up girls tattooed in a Day of the Dead aesthetic are a popular choice. You’re sure to have seen dark tattoos of women with skull-like make-up, floral shapes around their eyes, and their mouths sewn up – these are a reference to Day of the Dead, an important holiday in Mexican culture. Pin up girls tattooed in this style form an interesting juxtaposition of imagery and ideas. Think this design through carefully, though – there’s some macabre symbolism involved and cultural elements that maybe shouldn’t be appropriated without some consideration.

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  • Floral designs –pin up girls surrounded by flowers can look great and make for a cohesive design. The flowers can help to soften the typically erotic look of the pin up girl, making for a tattoo that’s slightly less sexual and more feminine.
  • Mermaid pin ups – pin up girls stylized to look like mermaids are a common choice, too. Just like with flowers, it makes sense: mermaid imagery in tattoos usually involves a sexualized female form in seductive poses, so it’s a short step from a pin up to a mermaid.
  • Custom background andprops – as mentioned above, the pin up girls of the 40s and 50s appeared in a variety of settings and outfits, with different props and surroundings. Think about whether you’d like to highlight any particular aspect of your life or your interests in your pin up tattoo – cars, boats, and musical instruments often appear as part of the pin up image.

Recommended Reading: Read our guide to garter tattoos next.

As with any tattoo design, the final choice will depend on you and what you want your tattoo to express. A classic retro pin up girl design will look awesome on its own, but putting your own spin on the old pop culture staple will make your tattoo even more unique.

Celebrities with pin up girl tattoos

There are plenty of celebrities with pin up girl body art – interestingly, it appears that most of them are women. Popular examples include:

  • Amy Winehouse – Amy Winehouse had several examples of pin up girl ink work on both of her upper arms.
  • Christina Ricci – Christina Ricci has an all-black, mermaid-style pin up girl tattooed on her left ankle.
  • Maja Ivarsson – Maja Ivarsson has a large all-black pin up tattoo on her forearm.

Placement Guide

Most pin up girl designs make for rather large, detailed tattoos. As such they’re usually not suitable for very small areas – although it will all depend on individual designs.

Your tattoo artist will be able to advise you on whether your placement idea will work for your chosen design.

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The arms and the legs are among the top choices for pin up tattoos, simply because of the space that these areas offer. Most pin up girl tattoos will take an elongated, vertical shape – making the arms and legs ideal placements. The ribs are also a great choice, especially for larger designs.

The largest pin up designs will work best as back tattoos. A sleeve or half-sleeve is another option, though in this case the tattoo will need to involve other elements, well-designed and measured to wrap around your arm.

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When deciding on the placement for your pin up girl tattoo, consider whether you want the tattoo to be constantly visible – especially since these kinds of tattoos can be controversial in some circles.

Back and upper arm tattoos, for instance, are usually concealed with clothing without you even having to try.

In contrast, forearm tattoos are likely to be on display most of the time and could be bothersome to cover up every day should you need to do so.

Beautiful tattoo designs of pin up girls

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Final Words

Though not necessarily suitable for every tattoo style, pin up girl tattoos make for surprisingly flexible designs, customizable with a range of color schemes, props, and additional elements.

Seductive but not vulgar, attractive but not explicit, with a rich history and strong ties to retro styles and vintage aesthetics, pin up girl tattoos are a great choice for both men and women wishing to make a bold statement with their body art.

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FAQs

What does a pin up girl tattoo mean? ›

They still represent female independence and power, especially, again, Rosie the Riveter. A lot of women will get these tattoos to symbolize their strength, power and independence. Aside from that, pin ups are, at their core, images of beautiful women, and that's something that will always be desirable.

What is a Sailor Jerry tattoo? ›

For a sailor, ships are both practical and metaphorical. It's where you go for work – but also for meaning and adventure. Sailor Jerry loved ships and held master papers on every major type of vessel. His legendary clipper ship tattoos represent both the call to adventure and the determination to be "Homeward Bound".

Who is the most famous pinup girl? ›

No history of American pop culture in the 1940s would be complete without mention of Betty Grable, the most popular pinup girl of the World War II era. Grable possessed the outstanding fortune of not only having an ideal body, but of arriving at the most fortuitous time imaginable.

What year were Pin Up girls popular? ›

The Vargas girls became so popular that from 1942–46, owing to a high volume of military demand, "9 million copies of the magazine-without adverts and free of charge was sent to American troops stationed overseas and in domestic bases." The Vargas Girls were adapted as nose art on many World War II bomber and fighter ...

What is the most popular female tattoo? ›

Butterfly Tattoo

Butterfly tattoos are some of the most popular inkings for women. That's because the butterfly represents transformation, nature, and freedom.

What is a good first tattoo? ›

While upper arms, forearms, thighs, and calves are all great locations, Brodsky says elbow and knee tattooing can be “kind of spicy, but it's still doable.” Tattoos on the torso hurt worse, she explains, because the skin is softer and lighter.

What does 13 in a tattoo mean? ›

MS 13 (Photo Wikimedia) The MS 13, also sometimes seen just as MS or 13, is a symbol of the Mara Salvatrucha gang from El Salvador. Typically these tattoos can be found anywhere on the body, but are most often found in highly visible places like the face, hands or neck.

What does a swallow tattoo mean? ›

Many sailors tattoo the swallows because they believe that swallows will provide them with protection that will ensure their safety while they are on the sea. Many people who travel a lot, use their swallow tattoos to seek protection and safety while they are on the road.

What does the handshake tattoo mean? ›

Shaking hands tattoos, or friendship hands as they are often called, are an old school tattoo design that is great for a filler tattoo. They're small, simple and quite awesome! Representing anything from friendship, love and brotherhood to respect and loyalty a handshake tattoo is great piece of classic ink!

What is the hardest style to tattoo? ›

The most difficult form of realism in tattooing is probably portraiture, because it requires the artist to capture both the likeness and character of a real person.

Who was the 1st Pin Up girl? ›

After the war ended in 1945, the most famous pinup was Bettie Page. She is credited as the first pinup to successfully transition from illustration to photography. Before Bettie Page, all pinup art was in the form of illustrations based on unknown women.

What are pinup girls called? ›

What is another word for pin-up girl?
cover girlmodel
foxcutie
honeycutey
eyefullooker
dishdoll
32 more rows

How do you pick a pin up name? ›

The names that are the most fun and stick the longest are creative and original, names that have a quirky twist, names that reflect a love and knowledge of the 1940s and 1950s, names that are clever and show that thought has been put into them - names that compliment the personality of the Pinup persona they represent.

What is a pin up hairstyle? ›

Pin up hair is a hairstyle that's considered an updo hairstyle. The hair or part of it is evenly rolled up or styled in smooth, big waves. Pinned-up hairstyles are perfect for vintage-lovers out there. These styles works best on longer hair, but can still be achieved on shorter hair.

Why is it called a pin up? ›

Burlesque performances, although taboo to certain audiences, were seen as a form of entertainment that was not overly gratuitous. Burlesque performers began to multiply. The term pinup came into play when performers left behind photographic business cards to be pinned up on the wall or stuck into mirror frames.

What is the most common first tattoo? ›

Ankle tattoos are perhaps the most popular designs for first times and based on the many tasteful and subtle examples out there—we can tell why many tattoo virgins go for the ankle.

Where do tattoos hurt the least? ›

Least painful to tattoo

The least painful places to get a tattoo are areas of your body with fewer nerve endings. Think outer shoulder, calf, buttocks, and outer arm.

What tattoo means strength? ›

As mentioned earlier, the lotus flower is an ultimate symbol of personal emotional, and physical strength. The lotus design is suitable for both men and women and represents power, strength, endurance, and one's ability to overcome life's struggles.

What do two lines tattoo mean? ›

The 2 lines tattoo meaning includes heavy and light facts. For instance, the band can symbolize the loss of a loved one. Besides that, it may also be used for representing strength. Do you want to understand the 2 lines tattoo meaning in detail? If so, you're in the right place.

Who should not get a tattoo? ›

While those with frequent, large and severe eczema should speak with their doctor before speaking to a tattoo a shop. People with eczema can have more sensitive skin, which could lead to allergic reactions to the pigments in tattoo ink.

Where should my first tattoo be? ›

The shoulder isn't too bad for a first tattoo. While it is technically on your shoulder blade, the muscle provides a bit of cushioning for the needles. The shoulder is ideal for a first tattoo because it allows for someone to get a large scale tattoo without committing to having visible tattoos.

What does 3 dots tattoo mean? ›

The three dots tattoo represents “Mi Vida Loca,” which translates to “my crazy life.” It often means the struggles of the underprivileged and the minorities. It's a way of saying, “my life is crazy, but I'm thankful for it,” or “life may be crazy, but I'm still here.”

What does OTF tattoo mean? ›

But we can all assume it's not the one you had in mind. OTF Tattoos came to the front of the stage due to Lil Durk's record label and rapping group 'Only The Family', which was formed back in 2011.

What does the tattoo 143 mean? ›

Design- 143 (girls) Meaning- Stands for "I love you" Placement- left ring finger | Cousin tattoos, Tattoos for daughters, Love yourself tattoo.

Do tattoos burn calories? ›

In fact, you'll actually burn calories during a tattoo because your metabolism speeds up in response to tension.

What does a teardrop tattoo not filled in mean? ›

In West Coast gang culture (USA), the tattoo may signify that the wearer has killed someone and in some of those circles, the tattoo's meaning can change: an empty outline meaning either the wearer attempted murder or that a fellow gang member or friend died and when filled in, the wearer sought revenge.

What does a tear drop mean? ›

What does teardrop tattoo mean? A teardrop tattoo is a small tattoo in the shape of a teardrop near one or both eyes. It is closely associated with gang and prison culture, where it often indicates one has served time, one has been humiliated, or one has killed. Others may get such a tattoo to represent sorrow or loss.

What does a snake biting a hand tattoo mean? ›

Some tattooists have even stripped it of its original connotations of friendship and peace, replacing them with the opposite — treachery and betrayal — by swapping out one of the hands for the head of a snake. These snake handshake tattoos are a treacherous spin on a time-honored maritime motif.

What does hold fast mean tattoo? ›

A hold fast tattoo is a symbol for those that work or did work as a deckhand. This symbol is similar to a hula girl representing time stationed in Hawaii or the ship with full sails meaning they've rounded Cape Horn.

What does a tattoo of a woman mean? ›

It can be an image of beauty, femininity, romance, a heroine, a muse, desire, independence, or good luck.

What makes a tattoo good? ›

A good tattoo should have fully saturated black, color and shading. When it heals, there shouldn't be gaps or shapes in the tattoo that indicate it wasn't filled in properly. The lines of a tattoo should be crisp, straight and consistent throughout the tattoo.

Do tattoo artists like when you talk to them? ›

Some artists love to gab while tattooing but others prefer to be quiet. Let the artist take the lead or ask them what they prefer. Do bring a book to read or movie to watch provided you can do it without moving. Do let your artist take the lead on whether or not to talk.

What style of tattoo holds up the best? ›

Simple, minimalist tattoos are enduringly popular, but bold tattoos tend to last the longest. You can count both the size and the thickness of the lines as two of the reasons why these tattoos age well. "Bold, black text and traditional American tattoos still look badass when they fade," Villani says.

What tattoo styles go together? ›

Most Popular Mixed Style Tattoos

Geometric and Illustrative styles mix well together, so they're seen used together in a number of tattoos. Illustrative and Neo-Traditional, as mentioned before, are often used in combination with each other, as well as Neo-Traditional and New School, or Illustrative and new School.

What is the tattoo of 2022? ›

"Spiritual tattoos — hamsa, mandala, chakra, tree of life, Buddha, lotus, etc. — is a trend that took over 2021, and it's definitely sticking around for 2022," he said.

What kind of tattoos do guys find attractive? ›

Most guys agree that the shoulder, the upper back, or the hip are the hottest places for women to have tattoos (all being rated a 3.3 on a five-point scale). On the flip side, a face tattoo is (pretty unsurprisingly if you ask me) the least attractive to both men and women, being rated a 1.4 on the scale.

Are tattoos still popular in 2022? ›

Getting a new tattoo. Last year saw trends like blackwork and gray shading tattoos rise in popularity, but 2022 will be getting a little more nostalgic — and abstract — when it comes to body art.

What is a tattoo pin up? ›

The name 'pin up' came from the idea that men would pin photos or posters of these seductive women on their walls to gaze upon, in months spent apart from real life women. Below, we've put together a pin up tattoo design dictionary, spelling out the history behind some of these pretty faces. 19-05-2020.

Where do you put pin up tattoos? ›

Placement Suggestions. Since pinups are usually shown in full length, you may wish to place your pinup girl tattoo on an elongated part of your body. The shoulder and upper arm for men is an ideal place for your glamour girl. Women may also wish to consider a leg placement for a pinup themed tattoo.

Where did pin up girls come from? ›

In 1895, Charles Gibson, an illustrator who drew for Life magazine, was credited with drawing the first pinup girl. His renderings of well-endowed women with hourglass figures and full lips became known as Gibson Girls. Gibson based his illustrations on American girls he came across in his travels.

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