There’s something about roses that compels so many people to get them permanently etched onto their bodies — just ask Dua Lipa, Cardi B, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Jaime King, Lily Collins, Lili Reinhart, Halsey, Hilary Duff, Paris Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, and Bella Hadid (among so many, many others). And who can fault them? Roses are a classically beautiful flower that have a timelessness to them. A black rose, though, is an interesting one, because it’s like an opposing take on one of the most common tattoo designs: the red rose. Whereas the imagery of a red rose conjures up notions of love, affection, and conventional romantic beauty, a black rose tattoo flips the motif on its head.
Void of life and color, black rose petals bring with them a sense of macabre and tragedy (re: the black rose in American Horror Story: Murder House). In Victorian England when people began creating a secret language of flowers to communicate their feelings (because they couldn’t just Tweet them back then), black roses were said to symbolize death and grief, an idea that has clearly stuck around through to today. Given that, black rose tattoos sometimes serve as reminders of mourning and remembering someone or something lost. But where there is death there is also birth, and so a black rose can also represent a farewell to something bad and a new beginning of something good — or so the Victorians thought.
If this is all getting a bit too English teacher for you, then just ignore the symbolism of it all. A black rose tattoo doesn’t necessarily have to have those specific symbolic meanings to you — or any meaning, for that matter. Simply finding a tattoo design pretty, interesting, or aesthetically pleasing is as good a reason as any to get one inked.
There are countless designs and placements to consider when finding one that suits you and your skin. Black roses are inherently gothic in nature, which is why you might see black roses paired alongside skeletons, spiderwebs, thorns, and other dark and moody imagery. If you vibe with dark academia or gothcore, a black rose tattoo might just be right up your dark, gloomy alley.
Whatever your reason for being drawn to the image of a black flower — meaning, aesthetic, or maybe even cost (black ink is definitely the most economical) — there are many ways for a black rose to take shape in a tattoo, be it fine line techniques, bold patterned designs, or watercolor styles. If you’re in search of some black rose tattoo ideas, NYLON put together a list of 21 unique black rose tattoos, below.
Black Rose Tattoo Ideas