160+ Fascinating Compass Tattoo Designs And Meanings

A compass is an instrument which has been used for guiding travelers, explorers, space adventurers and sailors, since times immemorial. It has been of great help t them for guiding them safely towards their destinations with the right idea regarding the directions. Like numerous other objects which have been of vital important to human race, the compass too has become a part of tattoo art and the compass tattoo has a huge fan following among discerning tattoo lovers around the world. Like the compass itself with direction, guiding the bearer to the right path. This kind of tattoo, thus becomes the preference of such people who are looking for a direction in their life, which means that the symbolic meaning is an important aspect of picking this tattoo design, besides of course, its excellent visual appeal.

Today, it cannot be denied that the compass art tattoos are gaining more and more popularity all over the world, just like the other tattoos out there. The compass, AKA nautical compass, compass rose, or nautical star, is no doubt an enormously popular tattoo design. There is no question about it since these tattoos are oozing with gorgeousness that the wearers would love having them for the rest of their lives. Just in case you do not know, a compass has been a very useful stuff in the past and even up to this very day. Through this stuff, sailors, space adventurers, explorers, and travelers have been guided well when it comes to the direction where they are heading. This goes to show that a compass has been a great part of many people’s lives for a number of years now. Thus, it is no longer surprising why many men and women tattoo lovers in the world are opting for a compass art, which will be engraved on their body.

Watercolor Compass Tattoo by Jimmy

Compass Tattoos Meanings

During the past years, a lot of travelers from all over the world did not go for any travel escapades without the presence of their compass. It was one very important stuff that they used to carry every time they embarked for a travel journey. This served to be their weapon in knowing the right path where they should be going. Not only that, the compass was also the one that they used in order to return home safe and sound. That is how useful this particular thing is. Hence, you should not underestimate the power of a compass. Because of this, hundreds of adventure lovers and travelers from all over the world decided to have compass art tattoos engraved on their own body. This is the main reason why these people were said to be the origins of these extremely beautiful tattoos.

Apart from the adventure lovers and the travelers in the world, these tattoos are also very significant to a lot of fishermen and soldiers. There is no need for more explanations about it since the nature of the jobs of these people has something to do with the right direction, which a compass can provide. Historically speaking, Spanish sailors were said to be the very first group of people who wore the ever gorgeous compass tattoos. Even so, they were not the ones who made these tattoos extremely popular in the entire world. The people who did such thing were the Celts as well as some other people who came from Europe. They made these tattoos famous several centuries ago.

Popular Designs

There is a great diversity in designs available under the category of compass designs in tattoo art, which include star, angelbutterflyflower tattoos, name tattoos, arrow tattoosbirds tattoos and much more, each design featuring a deeper symbolic meaning. Discussed below are some popular designs:

  • Compass with North Star – A popular representation of the compass comes along with the North Star or the pole Star, the star of the north direction, which was used by navigators to guide them about direction since the beginning of time. The design boasts of great aesthetic value.
  • Compass with Direction – The basic purpose of a compass is to tell about the direction and many of the tattoos include the alphabets signifying the cardinal directions as in N, S, W and E, standing for North, South, West and East respectively. North is considered as the yard stick to find the directions as it was the one looked up by the navigators to get a fair idea of their location. A tattoo design with these direction looks extremely cool and is favored by youngsters.
  • Compass with Globe or Anchor – Since compass deals with marine travel, a globe added to a compass design is a good way to represent its significance in the voyage. Similarly, an anchor is another object used by the ships, which makes it a vital element to be incorporated in compass design.
  • Other Design Elements – Some other design elements which can be included in a compass design are celestial objects like the sun and the moon, while hour glass or clocks can be made alongside to represent time. For those looking for feminine compass designs, the tattoo artist can add girlish objects like flowers, butterflies, feathers, anchors, dreamcatchers and ribbons to the basic compass design.

Additionally, compass design can look great in basic black or can be done in some vibrant colors, depending upon the choice of the bearer, but the fact remains that this design looks eye catching anyways.

In case of compass art, it is the philosophical meaning rather than the looks of the design which matters more. The design should rather be looked upon as an inspiration to fulfill one’s goals by gathering strength of moving n the right path, in the right direction in one’s life.

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Beautiful Designs

If the other kinds of body tattoos can offer you a number of options when it comes to designs, then you will be very happy to know for sure that the compass also have a number of designs to offer to those men and women tattoo lovers in the world. All of these designs will definitely stir the interest within you since they are all gorgeous that you might want to have all of them on your body. Here are some of these common beautiful designs that you might to take into account:

  • Direction Design – This particular design is the one of the most common choice of many since it is a very simple tattoo design. As its name suggests, this design will involve the four main directions that are represented with letters namely the E (East), W (West), S (South), and N (North). The yard stick is of the compass according to the navigators is the N (North), which is why the main hand of the compass is constantly pointing on this direction when it is not used. Such design is undeniably cool, which is the main reason why it is the most preferred design of a lot of youngsters out there who love to be tattooed.
  • North Star Design – One other design that is believed to have a very huge aesthetic value with north star design. The north star is also known as the pole star, which is the star that you can find when you turns to the north direction of the compass. Since in the past years, such star is extremely useful to all the navigators in the world since it is very helpful in guiding them towards the right direction when they are navigating.
  • Globe Design – The globe design is also another beautiful design that you can take into account when you are thinking of having compass art on your own body. The globe will symbolize the voyage that you will be having, making it perfect for those people who want to travel anywhere part of the world.
  • Anchor Design – The compass with anchor design is very popular among the sailors and seamen in the entire world. The main explanation for this is very obvious. It is simply because an anchor is a very important part of a ship. Without the anchor, it is impossible for the ship to stop anytime they want to, and it might be carried by the wind towards the wrong direction without the help of the anchor. In case you want to show to the other people how proud you are as a sailor, then having this design to be engraved on your body is a great thing to do.
  • Compass with Rose Design – Another very popular design is the rose and compass design. Who would say a flower is not compatible with an compass. It is definitely compatible, specially if you choose a rose flower. The entire design would represent sacrifice, honor, and love. If you want to show your love to someone or something, then the rose and compass design would be perfect for you.


A compass is something essential for a traveler, which he must carry when he embarks on a journey as this particular instrument will not only take him on the right path, but also ensure his safe return home. Therefore, the compass is of great symbolic sign for travelers and adventure lovers, in particular. These tattoos are equally popular among the military men, sailors and fishermen as their jobs too are related with the sense of right direction. In fact, it is believed that the Spanish sailors were the ones who got inked with compass art for the first time, while the tattoo was popularized by Celts and other races of European origin some centuries ago. There is a wide variety available in designs, each one being related with different symbolic meanings. Some of these mentioned as follows:

  • Originally, the compass art derives its meaning from the symbolism of the compass itself, as just like the compass, the tattoo is believed to help the bearer combat tough situations in life and reach his goal safely. The compass, too guided the user through rough waters and helped him reach home safely. In fact, compass art tattoo is believes to work like a protective talisman. Besides the sailors and navy men, it was also worn by the family members of these people, as a good luck charm for wishing their loved ones a safe journey and praying for them to get back home safely.
  • In medieval Europe too, the sailors used compass as a tool of navigation on their ships, which related this tattoo design with safe navigation and return home. Similarly, compass was a navigation device in ancient India too, where it got the name of Matsya Yantra. The compass made its way to medieval Africa from China. In all these cultures, the compass became a popular feature of tattoo art.
  • Gradually, as the compass found its use in military services too, even soldiers started preferring this particular tattoo design as a symbol of protection and safety.

Today, the popularity is no longer confined to soldiers, sailors and navigators, but has found its way to win the hearts of youngsters, who love this tattoo design not only because it looks cool and stylish, but also because it has a deeper symbolic meaning to reflect their attitude. The tattoo is meant for such people who are feeling lost in life and are looking for the right direction, for which the compass art can serve them as an object of inspiration. For those who are feeling out of direction in their personal or professional lives, the compass design seems to be the best option in tattoo art. Perhaps, this is what is making compass design a much loved tattoo design among people around the world, both young and old, men and women, though the design was originally popular only among people form professions of adventure. The tattoo has also received a celebrity status, on account of being endorsed by some global celebrities. Justin Bieber is a popular celebrity who has been seen sporting a compass design, which has taken it to the heights of popularity.

Sun and Moon Inside Compass Tattoo
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Compass design is the new cool among the tattoo enthusiasts and mostly, the arm is the best suited location for getting tattoo. Other spots for placement are elbow, back, chest, ankle, hip, leg, wrist, thigh, back of the ear, back of the neck and side. The choice of location to get the tattoo really depends on the bearer, but it needs to be done at a point where it looks prominent, because the very purpose of getting a tattoo done is to make it visible to others. At the same time, one needs to be sure about the design an placement before getting the tattoo as it involves a great deal of money, time and the bearer has to undergo a lot of pain for having the tattoo done. Moreover, a tattoo is permanent and becomes a part of a person for a lifetime.

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Placements Guide

Yes, it is all up to you where to place your tattoos on your body. Even so, this is not the case at all times. Sometimes, it is best to think about the tattoo placement well before starting the tattooing process. It is very important that you know the best placements for such tattoo. In this regard, here are some of the common placements:

  • Tattoos on Arms – Your arms are said to be the perfect locations. Great numbers of sailors and travelers in the world are placing on their arms. It is simply because they want the tattoo to be very obvious to some other people around them. You can decide if you will place it on the right arm, left arm, elbow, wrist, or in any other parts of the arms.
  • Tattoos on Chest – A lot of tattoo lovers also consider placing the tattoo on their chest. It is because they want to show how much they love this tattoo, that they place it near to their hearts. However, this location will not be that obvious just like the arms. The tattoo will only be visible when you are topless.
  • Tattoos on Hips – Another good location that you can consider is the hips. This is the common tattoo placement choice of many women tattoo lovers in the world. What do you think is the main reason for this? Well, it is definitely because such placement can emphasize the beauty of their own hips, making it to be one of their body assets.
  • Tattoos on Back – In case you do not want your tattoo to be very obvious, then you can consider it being placed on your back. When you want it to be seen by the other people around you, you can just cover it with your shirt.
  • Tattoos on Wrist – The number one body part that you can place is your wrist. You can have it in both of your left and right wrists. But if you only want one tattoo, you can decide whether you want it on your left wrist or right wrist. There is no way it will not look great on that placement.
  • Tattoos on FeetYes, it would also look great right there on your left or right foot. In fact a lot of ordinary people and celebrities are having this particular body placement.
  • Tattoos on Legs – Legs are also perfect locations for a compass tattoo. Legs are normally longer, so the particular illusion that you want to show with your tattoo can surely be achieved. However, you must see to it that the people around you do not mind seeing tattoos since legs can be obvious locations for a tattoo.
  • Tattoos on Stomach – Another perfect placement for this tattoo is stomach. This is a common option of many women tattoo lovers in the world. With the design that you choose, the mechanical versions of your body parts that can be located inside your stomach can surely be shown on the tattoo.
  • Tattoo on ThighIf you want to have your tattoos not that obvious to some other people, you can choose to place them on your thighs. Of course, it is now up to you if you want to put tattoos in both of your thighs or just on the left or right part.

Final Words

Compass tattoos are definitely one of the most popular body tattoos these days. Even those people who are not sailors, travelers, and adventure lovers are opting for these tattoos because of the higher level of beauty that these tattoos can provide to the wearers.


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