If you’re thinking about getting a semicolon tattoo, you’re in the right place.
Today, we’ll share some of our favorite semicolon tattoo designs, as well as delving deep into the meaning of this unique tattoo symbol.
Semicolon tattoo meaning
Chances are that if you’re looking at semicolon tattoos, you already know what they stand for.
Just in case, though, let’s go over the meaning of the symbol in tattoo art.
A semicolon is, as we all know, a punctuation mark, in the form of a dot over a colon. Its purpose in writing is to separate two main clauses with a more pronounced pause than a colon would provide.
Semicolon tattoos, however, are not just a reference to a punctuation mark. In this context, the semicolon refers to Project Semicolon – broadly speaking, a movement for the prevention of depression and suicide.
Project Semicolon was founded in 2013 by Amy Bleuel. Her father’s suicide and her own struggle with mental illness, depression, and suicide attempts prompted her to start a movement providing hope and support to those who need it most.
Thanks to social media and support from musicians and other celebrities, Amy’s project developed a global reach, creating a supportive environment and sending out a message of hope.
The semicolon is the project’s main symbol. The reason behind this is that a semicolon indicates a pause, not the end of a sentence.
In other words, when an author uses a semicolon, they choose not to end a sentence. In this metaphor, the person struggling with depression is the author – and the sentence is a moment in their life. The semicolon, therefore, stands for the decision to keep living.
As you’re browsing semicolon tattoo images, you’ll see the phrase “My story is not over” featured in many of them.
This sentence is closely connected with Project Semicolon, referring again to the notion of choosing to carry on living.
Who chooses semicolon tattoos?
Given their meaning and context, semicolon tattoos are particularly common among suicide survivors and their families, as well as anyone who supports Project Semicolon – for any reason.
Near the beginning of the movement, drawing a semicolon on your wrist was a sign of support for the project.
For this reason, many of the tattoos that followed are also being placed on or near the wrist.
Semicolon tattoo ideas
Although the semicolon is a very simple symbol, there are tons of ways to represent it in tattoo art. Let’s consider some of the most popular and interesting ideas for semicolon designs.
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Simple semicolon tattoo
There’s something beautifully elegant about a minimalist semicolon tattoo. Simple and discreet, this is the most basic, direct depiction of the semicolon.
One advantage of this choice of design is that it can be small enough to easily fit anywhere you like – even behind your ear or on your finger.
That’s because it’s an exceedingly simple design, with no particular detail to convey. It can therefore be safely scaled down to such minuscule areas.
Tiny, simple semicolon tattoos are also a good choice if this will be your first tattoo and you’re worried about how you’ll handle the pain. A tattoo like the two examples above would only take a few minutes to complete.
That being said, a simple semi colon tattoo doesn’t necessarily have to be small. Depending on where you want to place it and how discreet you’d like the tattoo to be, it’s all up to you!
Semicolon watercolor tattoo
The watercolor tattoo style takes inspiration from the look of a fresh watercolor painting. Most watercolor designs involve a black shape or outline with a vibrant, colorful fill or background.
So, if you’d like to inject a splash of color into your semicolon tattoo, consider a watercolor element. The watercolor style is a great choice of semicolon tattoo for men and women alike.
The design above follows the standard approach to watercolor designs. There is a solid black element – the semicolon – with blended, vibrant colors forming the background.
The watercolor element certainly draws the eye to the tattoo. It also adds a lighter dimension to the design, injecting joy and energy into the tattoo.
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Meanwhile, this design presents an alternative to the traditional watercolor, in that the black, solid shape is missing.
Instead, the semicolon shape is left ‘blank’, framed by the watercolor. Therefore, the negative space of the joyful watercolor is what creates the semicolon.
Similarly, this design uses watercolor negative space. However, in an interesting move, the artist added an extra element – in the form of the paint ‘dripping’, or running down the width of the wrist.
In this way, the watercolor is extended after the semicolon – perhaps indicating that the metaphorical story continues.
Lastly, above we can see yet another take on the watercolor semicolon. The relatively large shape of the semicolon is filled with watercolor splashes.
It lacks an outline or a frame, which gives the tattoo a vibrant and modern look.
Arrow semicolon tattoo
The arrow is a highly meaningful and versatile symbol. By combining a semicolon with an arrow in a single design, you can enhance the meaning of the tattoo and achieve an elongated shape.
On its own, the arrow in tattoo art typically represents determination, the achievement of goals, and a journey. It can also mean protection from harm and the notion of constantly moving forward.
Combined with the semicolon symbol, the arrow highlights the idea of the drive to keep living, the determination to survive even the hardest times, and hope for the future.
Usually, this combination takes the form of an arrow with a semicolon halfway along the shaft, as in the example above.
It’s easy to see the symbolism there – the semicolon indicates a pause, but the arrow keeps on going nonetheless.
The tattoo above, meanwhile, complicates the basic design by adding the word ‘warrior’.
Arrows – especially in Native American symbolism – signify protection and the way of the warrior, so these elements make for cohesive meaning when combined together.
Note that the ‘i’ in ‘warrior’ has been replaced with a small semicolon. This tattoo is therefore also an example of a semicolon ‘disguised’ in a larger design.
This example takes the basic design of a semicolon along the length of an arrow, complementing it with the phrase “My story isn’t over”.
As mentioned before, this sentence is closely associated with Project Semicolon and with the meaning behind the semicolon symbol.
We have a whole post – complete with a large gallery – dedicated to arrow tattoos, so make sure you check it out for more inspiration!
Semicolon tattoos with birds
Another popular choice is a semicolon complimented with a flock of birds, usually breaking away from the top part of the symbol.
The meaning of birds in tattoo art and in wider symbolism is complex and varied.
In this case, they usually represent human life, freedom, the connection between heaven and earth, as well as the link between the present and the future.
For more information on bird tattoos – including their meaning and bird tattoo ideas – check out this post.
Semicolon tattoo with a butterfly
Butterflies are another element that commonly appears in semicolon tattoos.
The meaning of a butterfly wonderfully compliments that of the semicolon. Butterflies represent the soul, hope, change, life, and resurrection.
There are plenty of creative ways to combine these two elements into a single, cohesive design.
The example above uses a semicolon to stand in for the butterfly’s body. The wing is rendered in gentle, black, curving shapes, matching the look and style of the semicolon.
This tattoo is based on a similar idea – the semicolon appears at the butterfly’s body. However, it takes a topside view of the butterfly, with much more detail on the wings.
The colorful shading on the left wing creates an interesting contrast with the outline-only flower pattern on the right.
This could indicate transition from one beautiful thing to the next, with a semicolon ‘pause’ in the middle.
Lastly, this tattoo does a bit more to ‘hide’ the semicolon within the design. The beautiful watercolor rendition of the butterfly draws most of our attention, and the semicolon body is only noticeable after closer inspection.
Semicolon heart tattoos
The heart symbol, as we all know, represents love, life, and passion. It’s therefore unsurprising that it’s a common addition to the semicolon in tattoo designs.
The heart doesn’t necessarily need to represent romantic love, either. It can indicate support, the love of life and the world, the feeling of being loved, or self-love and appreciation, for example.
A popular way to combine these two symbols is to tattoo the outline of a heart, with a semicolon along one of the sides.
It suggests enduring love and hope, despite the ‘pause’ given by the struggles of life.
Here, we can see another example of the same idea but represented in an entirely different style.
The eye-catching watercolor rendition of the heart is vibrant and light. The semicolon, meanwhile, is clearly visible, though a bit more discreet among the splashes of color.
For an even simpler rendition of this idea, consider replacing the top part of the semicolon with a heart. This approach preserves the meaning of the two symbols, all while combining them into one.
Hopefully, this post has provided you with plenty of inspiration for your very own semicolon tattoo. For even more ideas, check out the gallery below!