Suns are a classic symbol found in artwork all over the world. The sun provides light, warmth, and life, so it is revered by many cultures and societies, from prehistory to modern day. Suns are featured motifs in a variety tattoo styles. Mayan and Aztec tattoo designs frequently feature sun motifs because both societies followed a sun god.
In Japanese culture and Japanese tattoo designs, the sun can represent the yang aspect of the yin yang philosophy. Yang traits are creative, masculine, and associated with heaven, heat, and light. Tattoos with yang aspects often feature fire, red colors, or the sun. Interestingly, much of asian culture favors a sun goddess, believed to be the head of all deities.
In Norse mythology, Freyr (or Frey) was the ruler of sun and rain and the god of fertility and reproduction. As such, he was believed to be the bringer of bountiful harvests and prosperous years. Interestingly, Freyr is portrayed as a peaceful god, a warrior god, and the king of elves.
Helios, the Greek and Roman god of the sun, was the brother of dawn (Eos) and moon (Selene). Helios rode a golden, horse drawn carriage across the sky, guiding the sun across the sky. There are also Egyptian, Hindu, Polynesian, and Native American gods that are associated with the sun, as well as countless others.
Another reason people get sun tattoos is to symbolize their love of sunshine, summer, and tropical weather or places. In America, Florida is nicknamed the Sunshine State. Lovers of Florida, or native Floridians, might get a sun tattoo as a symbol of their state pride. In a less specific sense, anyone who loves being in sunshine is likely to be drawn to a sun tattoo.
Suns, especially beachy sunsets, are often used to portray a tropical or island location. These tattoos might be mementos from a beautiful vacation, like a souvenir to remember the trip, or inspiration to work towards a future trip. In the same way people often have photos of a desirable location on their work desk, even places they have never been, so too people get tattoos of their ideal locations. These tattoos can give the wearer a sense of peace and tranquility that they carry with them everywhere. A person can also have a sun tattoo to illustrate their, or a loved one's, sunny personality. A sunny disposition is one that is bright, upbeat, positive, and cheerful. Sun tattoos can represent a religious belief, a place, a family heritage, a dream location, or even a personality.
Perhaps the real reason why sun tattoos are so popular is because the sun symbol is highly adaptable. Sun designs can incorporate virtually any artistic style. There are celtic suns, tribal suns, minimalist suns, art nouveau suns, psychedelic suns, graffiti suns, and old school or new school suns, just to list a few.
Both men and women are drawn to sun tattoo designs, although the styles they choose differ. Men tend to choose masculine, fiery, and strong designs, while women are drawn more towards feminine, delicate, curly, and colorful tattoos. Colors, too, differ from design to design. Although the traditional tattoo is thought be yellows, oranges, and reds, it is not uncommon to see sun tattoos that incorporate entirely different colors. Purples, blues, blacks, rinks, greens, and browns can all be used to personalize a sun tattoo. Sun tattoos have been a popular design motif for a long time and will most likely continue to be popular.